Adam Leitschuh, Chairman
Adam was born in Colorado but spent majority of his youth growing up camping and fishing in the Sierra Nevadas of Northern California. Shortly after high school, Adam started hunting and moved to Idaho to go to college at Boise State University. During summer and winter breaks, Adam hunted in California until he gained residency in Idaho to afford tags on a college student’s budget. Adam spent his free time around school, work and rugby schedule scouting, camping, hunting or fishing on public lands. After graduating with a construction management degree, Adam moved to North Dakota for the first time where he worked on several projects across the state over several years. Work then took him to Montana where he lived for a couple more years and met his wife. His wife’s career with the Air Force then brought him back to North Dakota.
In the past ten years Adam has had the opportunity to hunt multiple Western states full of public lands including Wyoming and New Mexico and Eastern states such as Ohio, which is at the opposite end of the public lands spectrum. Growing up surrounded by public lands and waters and traveling and moving around the country, Adam has experienced firsthand how easy it is to take public lands and waters for granted when it’s there. Without people acting, that may not always be the case. No matter where a certain area of public lands or waters is and no matter how small or large, it deserves our attention and protection.
Russ Senske, Co-Chair
Russ joined Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in 2015 because of his passion for keeping public lands in public hands. From a young age Russ had an affinity for the outdoors and natural resources. Originally from northern Wisconsin, he grew up hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and camping on private, state and national forests.
Russ attended Northland College, located on the south shore of Lake Superior, because of his passion for the natural resources field and the amount of public access for hunting and fishing. Russ majored in restoration ecology and biology and continued hunting and fishing in his free time. While attending college, he started Northland College Sportsmen’s Club, which still continues today.
Currently, Russ lives in Bismarck, working for the Department of Transportation as an environmental scientist. He is fortunate to spend much of his time hunting and fishing on public lands throughout North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.
Darrin Underhill, Secretary
Growing up in the Brainerd Lakes area of central Minnesota, Darin was provided with the opportunity to hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors on both public and private lands. College brought him west to the Fargo-Moorhead area in 2007. The public lands access in North Dakota allowed Darin to enjoy waterfowl and pheasant hunting. In the fall of 2017, he went on his first elk archery hunt in northern Colorado on public lands. It was that trip that made him realize how fortunate we are within this country to have access to public lands and all of the opportunities that they have to offer us as hunters, fishermen and women, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. It made him recognize that these lands are worth protecting in order for all Americans to enjoy.
J.R. is an avid outdoorsman who grew up in Eastern Montana. He moved to North Dakota to attend college where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Mary in Bismarck. Whether he was walking for upland birds, fishing for walleye, or hunting for deer or elk with his bow, for as long as he can remember, J.R. has been spending time outdoors with family and friends. Over time, he has realized he took for granted the many opportunities he had growing up with large tracts of readily accessible public land and ample wildlife. Since then, J.R. has been passionate about preserving public lands, wildlife and access to them. He believes the work that groups like BHA are doing will help ensure his children will have as many quality opportunities to experience wild places as he has had.
Andrew grew up on a hobby farm in central Minnesota hunting and fishing anything that was in season, mostly on private land. After moving to North Dakota for college, Andrew instantly fell in love with the vibrant waterfowl the state had to offer and started pursuing all of the seasons available while enjoying the countless acres of public lands the state has to offer. During that period, Andrew experienced the ups and downs of public land hunting and the feeling of accomplishment that goes along with successful harvests. Andrew has hunted and canoed extensively in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota, and he has also canoed parts of the Red River of the North and the Little Missouri River, both in North Dakota. Andrew has hiked and hunted in parts of the Sheyenne National Grasslands and the Little Missouri National Grasslands and has seen the impacts of development on these areas. He understands the need for responsible multi-use agreements and development of the state and nation's public lands. Currently, Andrew lives in Bismarck with his wife and daughter and owns a small construction company and hunting and fishing related website.
Dave grew up in the agricultural landscape of Iowa and learned at a young age the implications of limited access to limited resources for those who yearn to spend their free time in the great outdoors. After graduating from Iowa State University, Dave moved to an outdoorsman’s paradise called North Dakota to begin his career as a wildlife biologist for 27 years. Unfortunately, Dave watched the same history of commercialization and loss of access that he witnessed in Iowa unfold in his new home. This is the same plague that has decimated hunting in many states for those with modest means.
"In order for future generations to enjoy any semblance of what we have been so blessed to enjoy, it is imperative that we defend those special places remaining, which belong to all Americans, from those who only think with their pocketbooks or care only about the bottom line."
Darren grew up on a ranch in Eastern Montana. When he wasn't working, Darren spent a lot of time hunting and trapping. While going to MSU in Bozeman, he was able to hunt elk and fly fish for trout in some of the best trout streams in the world. Since moving to North Dakota with his wife and three boys in the mid 90’s, he became an avid upland bird hunter. Darren became a bow hunter while in North Dakota, hunting deer on the public lands in western North Dakota. As he has gotten older, he has come to appreciate the public lands and the opportunities they afford every American. North Dakota is also where Teddy Roosevelt's roots in conservation started.
"We need to maintain conservation efforts, not only for us, but especially for future generations. BHA is a great organization to do just that."
Born and raised in the Gallatin Valley of southwest Montana, Jarrod cut his teeth learning how to fish and hunt in the backcountry of the Tobacco Roots and the Gallatin National Forest. He was three years old when he accompanied his dad on his first hunt and five years old on his first backpack fishing trip. Jarrod credits the vast and wild public lands and the experiences found on them to helping shape him as a person.
Jarrod lives in the northwest corner of North Dakota in Williston with his wife and dog, Diesel. This area happens to be in the heart of oil and gas country. While he works in a support industry for oil and gas, Jarrod also strongly believes in the responsible extraction of these resources and use of the land. When not hunting, fishing or hiking, you will find Jarrod and his wife shooting their bows at either of the facilities for the Missouri Basin Bowmen, which Jarrod also serves as a board member. The driving force for his commitment to BHA is protecting OUR public lands for the generations to come.
Jack is a retired civil/geologic engineer who is married and father of two sons. He began his hunting career at the age of nine, shooting geese and ducks and he began hunting whitetails on public lands when he was old enough to pull a recurve bow. Jack then made a trip to the North Dakota Badlands in 1975 archery hunting mule deer and antelope and he was hooked. Since then he has hunted and taken elk, antelope, mule deer and whitetail on public lands in North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, mostly with a bow and arrow. Jack spent three years in college as a fishing guide at his brother's lodge in the Yukon territory, transporting and guiding fishermen up a whitewater river to an outpost camp eight miles upstream. He spends most falls pursuing game in as many western states as he can draw a tag, and have had the great thrill of having his sons accompany him on some of those hunts
Pieper retired from the U.S. Forest Service in 2011 as the supervisor of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands located in both South Dakota and North Dakota. He occupied this position for nearly ten years and was responsible for the day-to-day management of four national grassland units comprised of 1.2 million acres of public. Pieper has been a line officer for nearly 20 of his 35 plus year career with the Forest Service, serving as a district ranger on the Shoshone National Forest, Comanche National Grasslands and Black Hills National Forest. Pieper’s passion for the grasslands led him to the grassland supervisor’s position located in Bismarck.
As a Vietnam veteran, Pieper used his G.I. Bill to fund his education, culminating with an advanced degree in forest management from Colorado State University. Although trained as a forester, Pieper’s recreational pursuits frequently found him on the prairie and rivers of the Great Plains. Now he can often be found in his flat bottom boat on the Missouri River with his Lab Sammy Queen from spring breakup until ice over pursuing his passions.
Encouraged by his sons, Pieper and his wife joined the BHA family. Pieper said, “After having the great opportunity to work – and recreate - on public lands my entire adult life, I am deeply concerned over their future and will do all I can do to ensure that future generations continue to enjoy this great national legacy”.
Pieper has articulated his support of the BHA mission and is greatly impressed with the passion of the membership, especially that of its younger members.
Pieper and his wife, Deb, have three sons, all of whom work in natural resource fields. The Pieper family is frequently in the field on public lands and waters enjoying all that these resources have to offer – solitude, tranquility, scenic beauty, diverse habitats, wide open spaces, wildlife and fish. “Let’s not only maintain this great gift, but improve upon it for future generations”.
"Having my sons share my passion for hunting and watching them experience success on public lands is what has increased my passion for preserving and protecting public lands for the this generation and generations to come. Having seen how public lands have been threatened politically, including ongoing attacks on conservation funding, has fueled my passion to proactively protect our public lands heritage. I am proud and excited to be part of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and look forward to protecting and preserving our greatest public resource.