Stefan Flagg, Chair
I was born and raised in mountains of Eastern Kentucky. My Dad and I had a shared love of fishing and we traveled around the region together in pursuit of bass. My first exposure to public lands came while attending Morehead State University that sits at the northern end of the Daniel Boone National Forest. The ability to walk from your dorm room and connect to the Sheltowee Trace trail was life changing. It was during this time that I met my first deer hunters and made my first few failed attempts at hunting. It was not until a decade later that I made another attempt at hunting and found it to be both challenging and relaxing. As my interests expanded from deer to turkey, like many others, I developed a goal of traveling west to hunt elk. In 2016, I made my first trip to Colorado and was lucky enough to harvest a cow elk. This trip changed my idea of what America is what it means to be an American. I returned home and joined BHA with a goal of helping to establish a chapter in Kentucky to ensure that future generations have the opportunities afforded to me. I am a member of other conservation organizations, but I have found the membership and the mission of BHA to be the most aligned with my own goals and I am fully committed to our success.
Colonel (Retired) Michael A. Abell, Vice-Chair
I was born and raised in metro Washington D.C. in the 1970s, which was a real treat, but thankfully I got to spend summers with my Grandfathers in the rural areas of western Maryland, southeast Kentucky and northeast Tennessee. I graduated with a college degree in Biology and intended to become a game warden. A twist of fate landed me in the U.S. Army as an Infantry Officer. I loved serving my Nation and was fortunate enough to serve all over the world, in peace and in combat. The Army also allowed me time to earn multiple postgraduate diplomas, the last of which is a Master’s of Strategic Studies. After 26 years of total service, it was time to hang up my jump boots and put on my hunting boots. Now I am a freelance writer, hunter, fisher, gatherer, competitive archer and advocate for improving the future of my fellow sportsmen and women in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. My wife Aline and I are both BHA life members. We have hunted and/or fished public lands and waters all over the lower 48, Alaska and Hawaii. Those wild public places are a national treasure. They must be retained or improved for future generations. We intended to see that it happens.
Griff Baute, Secretary
I am a proud native Central Kentuckian, born/raised, that can trace my Kentucky roots back to the Native Americans that lived here originally. My Dad taught my sister and me to fish and target/trap shoot. I had an uncle and cousin to take me hunting at times, because my immediate family did not. I got involved with Scouting, then later in life leadership positions in mountain biking, cycling and triathlon clubs. I quit hunting when I was 15 due to not being ready to witness a processor field dress my deer in front of my eyes at my Dad’s insistence, however later in life I found I loved my best friend’s venison summer sausage. I kept stealing it out of his freezer until he convinced me it was time to start hunting again to have my own venison summer sausage to eat instead of his.
I strongly believe like all my fellow KY-BHA members that the greatest thing we can do is pass all of our outdoors legacy and traditions down to beginner adults and children everywhere. To this end, I am Life Member/Officer in many outdoors groups, am a Hunter/Bow Hunter Education Instructor, and a middle school archery coach. Being outside, I always find serenity in the beauty of nature and in God’s creatures to the point it touches my soul. I feel, like many of my fellow outdoor brothers/sisters, that it is therapy for the soul every time you can get outside to hunt, fish, hike, target shoot or just do anything outdoors at all.
Grant McAlister, Treasurer
I grew up on the shores of Lake Cumberland, where I learned to fish and hunt on our nearby public land, Daniel Boone National Forest. During my high school years, I joined our high school’s conservation organization, which was heavily devoted to the maintenance and improvement of our area’s public resources. This passion for service has grown into a long lasting support for various organizations which promote and protect our hunting and fishing heritage as well as conservation of our public lands, its access, and its improvement. I found out about BHA a few years ago and quickly pledged my financial support as a life member, but longing to do so much more. After bugging so many of the staff, I finally was introduced to the group who would become the founding crew of Kentucky Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.
When not volunteering or working, I spend my spare time hunting, fishing, and training my stubborn wirehaired pointer, Greta. My wife, who shares my passion for all things outdoors and conservation, and I live in Bowling Green.
Paul Skees, BOD - 1st District
I first followed my dad afield on a rabbit hunt with our Beagle hounds at age five. That same year I lost the vision in my left eye. Yet, my parents encouraged me to continue enjoying hunting and the outdoors. After my son’s birth, my perspective changed. Although I had been primarily hunting public land since childhood, I had largely taken them for granted. I came to the realization that public lands are an American birthright and hold a position of prominence in what is a uniquely American experience.
I am a sixth-generation Kentuckian and a lifelong houndsman. I live in Paducah with my soulmate, Liza and our two sons, Brody and Nao and a pack of hunting hounds. I have a Master of Science in Organizational Communication and work as a Database Marketing Administrator in the casino gaming industry. I joined BHA in 2016 because their public lands mission, values and goals mirror my own.
Amber Leach, BOD - 2nd District
Amber was born and raised in West Virginia, in the home of parents who were avid hunters, anglers and staunch proponents of the 2ndAmendment. Her father owned a deer processing business where she was charged with salting hides every year for chore money, exposing her very early to the world of hunting. It was also common to spend a Saturday helping to skin squirrels for stew (that she never learned to love), watching her dad work his magic as he reloaded ammunition, chasing trout in a mountain stream or scouting the woods for prime opportunities. At the time, Amber had no way of knowing what a gift her parents were giving her but being raised in the outdoors has deeply rooted in her the importance of preserving our public lands and waters for future generations.
As an avid fly-fisher, Amber sees our own negligence and apathy echoed back by Mother Nature every time she steps into her waters. This has given her a sense of urgency to help protect those waters by raising awareness about the issues facing rivers, lakes and streams across the world today. Amber firmly believes that each of us can make a difference, even in the smallest of ways that might sometimes be perceived as insignificant.
Last year, Amber founded Kentucky’s only chapter a non-profit organization that mentors foster children through the sport of fly-fishing. Not only do they teach kids to fish and connect with nature, but they also emphasize many components of conservation. Their goal is to help grow kids into responsible anglers, not just kids capable of landing a fish. They help to clean the bodies of water they utilize, kids learn about invasive species of fish, proper fish handling techniques and a myriad of other things that often go untaught. Their goal is to imbed a ‘leave no trace’ approach to enjoying nature.
In this new position with BHA, it is Amber’s desire to promote water health, sustainability and proper usage in Kentucky, the place she’s called home for nearly two decades. As a first-generation conservationist, she’s quickly learned that the road ahead has the potential to be long and bumpy. But she also knows that the collaboration of just a few like-minded people can make all the difference in the world.
Nick Hart, BOD - 3rd District
A first-generation Kentuckian, Nick Hart is an Environmental Health Manager for Louisville Metro Government. Formerly, he was employed with Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control in the enforcement division, and worked with the Louisville Legal Aid Society prior to that. For 10 years Nick was a raft guide on the New and Gauley rivers, and continues to seek out adventure on public lands and water. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, his hometown.
My family did not hunt and fish, but they gave me the gift of the outdoors. A friend gifted me a rod and reel for college graduation, and taught me how to fish. My wife’s family gave me the gift of the hunt. Like the community who has shared their time, patience, and knowledge with me, I hope to help foster the since of community BHA members share in celebrating the fellowship of the outdoors.
Ben Bishop, BOD - 4th District
My name is Ben Bishop. I grew up and still reside in central Kentucky. From the time I was able to accompany my dad in the field, I was hooked on all things outdoors. Hunting and fishing every chance that I had. Up until a few years ago, I had always hunted on private land. My first experience hunting on public land was a black bear hunt in the southeastern portion of the state. I was in shear awe of this pristine land. Though I was unsuccessful in my attempt at a bear, I had found something new that I could try to help preserve and maintain. Now to this day I enjoy all sorts of hunting from squirrel and rabbit, to ducks and geese on our public lands. In addition, I am always in search for more adventures that they hold.
Josh Rodamer, BOD - 5th District
I was born and raised in Northern Kentucky, spending most of my childhood fishing and exploring what the Ohio River deposited along its muddy banks. It wasn’t until adulthood that I discovered hunting and developed a renewed appetite for wild places and outdoor adventure. I hold a Master of Arts in Communication with my graduate work focusing on legitimacy in our federal government. I joined BHA in 2016 after learning of the work performed by this group and their mission through the Brian Call’s podcast, then called the Gritty Bowmen. I was grateful to find a group that valued conserving and protecting all of the wonderful places created by God. Today I enjoy archery, hunting, fishing and exploring wild places with my two young children. Occasionally, we even convince my wife to tag along. Professionally, I work in emergency services, which has blessed me with a schedule to spend more off days afield or engaging with conservation organizations.
Michael DeLong, BOD - 6th District
I was born in Findlay, Ohio and have covered quite a bit of ground; Florida, Connecticut, and New Jersey before ending up in Kentucky in 98’. After graduating high school I promptly enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. My Marine Corps career moved me from Paris Island, South Carolina through the school of infantry and onto Marine Corps Security Forces school, before ending up in Washington DC. I was privileged to serve The White House Military Office and work directly for The White House Communications Agency until my EAS day in 2004.
Four years in Washington DC had me longing for my Old Kentucky Home. I returned to Lexington in the fall of 2004, married my beautiful and wonderful East Kentucky bride and made short work of a family of five.
I have always been drawn to the outdoors. My earliest memories were chasing walleye in north western Ohio. Florida is an absolute outdoor paradise, I was blessed with the freedom to explore with a fishing pole and cast-net in hand. Connecticut is where I took Hunter Ed and was introduced to the world of Whitetail. New Jersey, although living in a densely populated urban environment I was able to sneak away to the shore and fill my soul with striped bass and flounder.
Kentucky holds a special place in my heart. The opportunity for outdoor recreation is unlimited. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has done an outstanding job, but they can’t nor shouldn’t do it alone. I believe these places we love require effort from their caretakers. I strongly believe in sweat equity, what we get out of our public lands and waters we must be willing to put back in.
I am blessed to be surrounded by a wonderful group of like-minded individuals within the Kentucky BHA chapter. My goal is to preserve, protect and promote our public land, water and Wildlife for not only my own children but also for future generations to come.
I am a hunter, gatherer, fisherman, traditional archer and all around outdoor enthusiast. I am also a member of Compton Traditional Bowhunters and The Foundation for Wildlife Management.
Nic Craig, BOD - 7th District
I grew up peeking under logs and rocks in search of snakes and salamanders in north Alabama. I was exposed to conservation issues at a young age hearing heroic tales of Lamar Marshall and Wild Alabama working down the road in Bankhead National Forest. It struck a chord which eventually materialized as a degree in zoology with a focus in biodiversity and conservation from Auburn University. I'm a software developer by trade and an adult onset hunter as of the sping turkey season of 2017. I'm currently cutting my teeth on upland and waterfowl with May, my small munsterlander.
Larry Lewis, BOD - 8th District
I was born and raised in Morgan County, Kentucky. I have been hunting and fishing since I was old enough to safely handle a firearm, shoot a bow, or cast a line. I have had the privilege of grouse hunting public land in New York to elk hunting public land in Colorado and mixture of deer and bird hunting on public land all the way in between. Growing up in the foothills of the Daniel Boone National Forest (and surrounded by it), I have been fortunate to always have public lands and waters within walking distance of my home.
I always remember as a kid having the privilege of being able to hunt, hike and fish all around DBNF and Cave Run Lake. As I got older, my passion turned to hunting upland birds and hunting behind my bird dogs on many grouse coverts, on and around the DNBF. While I still pursue the king of the game birds here, I also hunt on WIHA in Kansas for quail and pheasant. I enjoy that we have an abundance of public land across America. One of the many reasons that I look forward to being 8th district director for BHA is to keep these lands open and free for us to enjoy in our back wood adventures.
I look forward to being a small part of the group that helps work with our local forestry and Fish And Wildlife in District 8 to ensure that every kids and adults have the opportunity to access public land to hunt and fish on in the future across the Commonwealth.
Pete Ralston, BOD - 9th District
I was born and raised in central Kentucky. I still reside here with my wife Michelle and my two daughters. I am currently on active duty for Kentucky National Guard. My earliest memories of the outdoors were fishing trips with my dad to Shelbyville Lake. As a teenager, every weekend was spent on Lake Cumberland with family. In my early 20’s, some friends introduced me to turkey hunting on the local public lands. I was instantly obsessed with the outdoors, and I soon started deer hunting in addition to turkey hunting. Life, work, and family pulled me away from hunting, but we were able to continue our weekend family trips to lake Cumberland. Fast forward 20 years, and I was able to spark my hunting and fishing passion again thanks to my wife Michelle.
I found Backcountry Hunters and Anglers through some friends and social media. I was looking for an outlet to be involved with the outdoors that was more than just paying dues and raising money for a banquet. I love the “boots on the ground” approach. I volunteered for my first BHA workday and instantly knew I had found my tribe. My wife and I both became life members, and I now have the privilege of serving as a District Director. I look forward to the work ahead with a great organization!