Stefan Flagg, Chair
I was born and raised in the 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.
Nick Hart, Vice Chair
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.
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.
Dan Douglas, Treasurer
I began learning what conservation meant as a young kid. I was raised in a somewhat rural area just South of Louisville, KY, and used public land in and around Cedar Creek and McNeely Lake almost every day. A local development (golf course) created a tremendous impact to the area with a massive fish kill, loss of habitat, and introduction of large volumes of people entering the area that had been untouched by man other than agriculture areas up to that point in my life. The restitution the developers were forced to implement by KDFWR after the fish kill frustrated me (they were forced to restock the lake and creek, but not given any species requirements. They stocked with gizzard shad which quickly overtook the lake and KDFWR had to perform their own mitigation to remove them) and I could not comprehend how things like that were allowed to happen. I grew up fishing and hunting rabbit and squirrels. We regularly struggled to find public land available in the region and when we did, it was not typically the successful hunting my papaw and uncles often talked about. They had been from Eastern Kentucky originally where the public land was more abundant and had less pressure.
A few years back I took my first trip to hunt public land in the Rocky Mountains. I did an elk hunt in the Red Deer River area in Alberta, Canada. While it was a successful hunt, I also paid attention to the development in the area- even as remote as that is- that seemed like it was creeping into the preserve. Locals were allowed to run cattle in the area, “wild” horses were rampant which actually turned out to be livestock that local ranchers had turned out into the preserve when they could no longer afford to feed them, and utility cuts were there in a few places. Seeing public land, even that remote, being impacted again made me worry that more needs to be done to keep wild places wild. When my son was born, I started thinking more big picture when I tried to envision what our public land would look like for him and his kids in the future, and I decided to try to take a larger role in conservation.
Colonel (Retired) Michael A. Abell, Event Coordinator
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.
Paul Skees, 1st District Director
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.
Nathan Kunze, 2nd District Director
I was born and raised in Daviess County and live there today with my wife and three young children. I grew up fishing in farm ponds with my grandfather but did not start hunting until my twenties. I enjoy deer and turkey hunting every year but my favorite activity these days is taking overnight canoe & camping trips with my kids on the Green River.
I joined BHA several years ago because I believe in their mission of protecting our public lands and waters. We are blessed to have so many opportunities to experience the outdoors in Kentucky and I want to be a part of preserving that for future generations.
Derek Towles, 3rd District Director
Derek Towles is a full-time firefighter/EMT in the Louisville area who also is currently employed part time by GoWild which is an outdoors social media and ecommerce app. Whenever he is not working, he is more than likely hunting, fishing, trapping, or doing something to support those hobbies.
Born and raised in the Louisville Kentucky area, he grew up in a hunting and fishing family. His family has a family farm and he spent many weekends out there hunting and fishing with his dad. He also did a lot of fishing with his grandfather. Derek states that he was blessed to be raised in a family that valued the outdoors and was able to grow up doing what others dreamed of. When Derek was in his early 20s though, the outdoors became more than just a hobby for him. He started challenging himself, learning new skills and hunting in new places, not just the family farm, but public lands in his area and in other states. This is also when he picked up waterfowl hunting, fly fishing, and trapping. Around this time, he also started too ventured out West and began to learn all about backcountry hunting for big game on public lands.
The outdoors became his life, and everything he did focused on the outdoors and feeding his passion for gathering his own food. Derek prides himself in the fact that he hasn’t purchased meat from a grocery store in over five years. This love for the outdoors is why he became a member of Backcounty Hunters and Anglers and several other conservation organizations. He believes in the mission of BHA and is very passionate about not only maintaining our public lands and waters, but also doing everything we can to keep and acquire new lands and waters for hunting and fishing. He is also a huge advocate for conservation and wants to work to benefit the habitat and populations of the animals and fish that we pursue.
Scott Parkey, 4th District Director
Scott was born and raised in Rockcastle Co. with the Daniel Boone National Forest as his playground, where he wandered the hills and the hollows, camped around the cliff sides, and developed a sense of appreciation for the ruggedness and wildness of our public lands.
Scott has been a high school teacher and football coach for 25+ years. He and his family live, work, and play along the beautiful lands of the Green River in Taylor Co. They seek out all outdoor adventures like hunting, fishing, foraging, backpacking, kayaking, and hiking our American Public Lands.
Through the years, his appreciation and passion for conservation, preservation, and education of the gift of public lands and waters have only intensified. BHA provides us the opportunity to make a positive impact on our piece of the world so future generations can enjoy the peace, tranquility, and recreational activities our public lands provide.
Andy Schneider, 5th District Director
Andy was born and raised in Boone county Ky. He started his passion for the outdoors at an early age with learning to fish from his father. After graduating from NKU with a degree in construction management he began his career in the construction industry. After years of fish and a help of a friend Andy began to hunt deer and upland birds in his early thirties. This is we’re he learned how important public land and waters are. So he will help fit to keep what is important to us all. Public land!!!
Nick Heebner, 6th District Director
I grew up in southeastern PA with my family and close group of family friends that were all active in the outdoors with fishing, shooting sports, and ATVs. My introduction to public lands came from regular camping trips with my family and friends. This love for being outdoors really grew when I was a student at Penn State, taking weekends and frequent trips into state forrest and game lands to hike, camp, run, and mountain bike. I had been interested in trying to get into hunting for a while but without a mentor it was difficult. However, after moving to Western PA, I decided to just give it a shot. After a year or so making a lot of mistakes and not knowing what i was doing, I finally shot my first deer with bow in 2013. I'm the type of person to jump head first into things. I say that because around the same time I was getting into hunting my wife decided to bring home two german shorthaired pointer puppies. As anyone who knows bird dogs will tell you, once you get into hunting behind dogs, it quickly consumes you. Now, over 10 years later, my wife and I most look forward to spending our hunting trips and fall weekends following the noses of our dogs, shotguns in tote, anticipating the next pointed bird.
Without the access and stewardship of our public lands my life would look a lot different. This is what draws me to the mission of BHA. We need to protect these places and the habitat our wildlife depends on.
Samantha Lewis, 7th District Director
Nic Craig, 8th District Director
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.
Oscar McQueen, 9th District Director
My name is Oscar McQueen. I live in the community of Gray Hawk Kentucky which is located in Jackson County. My home is very near the Daniel Boone National Forest and Mill Creek WMA. I became a member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers due to it mission being important to me protecting public lands. I work as a paramedic and EMS educator. I spend much of my free time in the outdoors with my wife, teenage sons, two young nephews and niece - with much of this time spent on public lands and waters. The idea of public land conservation is important to me because I spend much time with my family enjoying nature. I believe it is important to protect the public lands for the future generations. I have realized that there are threats to public land through politicians wanting to sell that land as well as the general public not understanding what a valuable resource we all own in public lands. I think it is important to show the public what a valuable resource our public lands and waters are.