Ashley Kurtenbach – Chair, Spearfish SD
In a perfect world, there would be endless amounts of public land with no posing threats to losing it, I could spend every second outdoors and make a solid living doing it, and consume bacon cheeseburgers and fries without getting fat… we can all dream, right? With public land issues arising more and more, and potential loss of these lands, I aspire to use my passion and experience in aiding to help with conservation and keeping our public lands in public hands.
I am Ashley Kurtenbach, a born and raised Iowa farm girl, and love brought me across South Dakota to the Black Hills area. I spend my spare time as an avid hunter of big game and upland birds, fitness fanatic, and outdoor enthusiast, and public lands play a large role in what I love doing in my free time. I couldn’t be happier to work with an organization like BHA, and I bring a dynamic drive and work ethic to the SD committee to protect these lands for us and for future generations to come.
Justin Whitehead – Secretary, Mitchell, SD
I grew up on a cattle ranch near Sturgis, SD. When I wasn’t working or roping, I spent much of my time fishing, hunting, and trapping with family and friends. I was a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic in the South Dakota Army National Guard and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After returning from Iraq, I earned a degree in Ag and Biosystems Engineering from South Dakota StateUniversity. During my time at college, I started to hunt and fish mainly on public lands and learned new methods such as ice, fly, and bow fishing, muzzleloader and archery hunting. I also took advantage of the great waterfowl and pheasant hunting opportunities of eastern SD. These hobbies fed me through college and continue to be the main food source for my family. I currently live in Mitchell, SD with my wife, Michelle, and two sons, Gage and Clay, who all share my love for the outdoors and conservation. My latest adventures have been DIY horseback and backpack elk hunting trips in the Black Hills of SD and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. There are not many experiences so hard sought and rewarding as carrying an elk off the mountain on our public lands. I have great respect for wildlife, wild places, and the opportunity to pursue them. I am a life member and volunteer for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and vice-chairmen of South Dakota’s newly-formed BHA Chapter.
Jesse Kurtenbach – Treasurer, Spearfish, SD
As a young boy Jesse was fortunate enough to spend his early years chasing his father around Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife refuge in Montana. Vivid memories of feeding swans, catching grayling, and trapping beavers resound from childhood. Like many, all of this time spent in the field chasing his father around was just preparation for when it was his turn to spend time in the great outdoors. Fast forward and Jesse has become an avid backcountry hunter and spends as much time possible in the western states chasing big game. The importance of our public lands has been drilled into his existence by a father who has spent the last 40 years in conservation. Doing his part to protect the future of these lands for future generations is the driving force behind the commitment to BHA.
Jon Duesterhoeft – Co-Chair, Sioux Falls, SD
Begin raised on a family farm in central Minnesota afforded me many opportunities to dabble in hunting. However, it wasn’t until college when the bug really hit. I owe it to my dad for dragging me around the Northern Great Plains to hunt deer and pronghorn. I fell in love with the prairie and moved to South Dakota almost ten years ago. South Dakota is an amazing state for a generalist like myself. Everything from doves to turkeys, teal to tundra swans, and big fox squirrels to elk are readily available on public land across the state. I advocate for access, habitat, and land-use policies that mean my daughter, and all future generations, will continue to enjoy our great American heritage.
Josh Miller - BOD, Spearfish, SD
Josh was born in Eastern South Dakota and raised in Western South Dakota where his parents exposed him to the great outdoors. His love of South Dakota began as a child while camping all over the Black Hills. He spent his childhood exploring the mountains and plains searching for serene places and in pursuit of deer, antelope and birds. He enjoyed camping near lakes and streams, in hopes of catching any mixed bag of fish.
Josh is a graduate of the Black Hills State University and is now an Elementary School Teacher in Spearfish, SD. He is to this day an avid hunter and fisherman, traveling across the country to pursue his passion. Josh is a member of BHA, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Mule Deer Foundation, and conservation of our wild lands and watersheds has become a passion of his. He receives great joy in sharing the great wonders of our wild lands with his family and friends.
Phil Kahnke - BOD, Salem, SD
I grew up in southern Minnesota as a duck hunter. My earliest memories are a combination of me slogging through the public cattail sloughs near my hometown or having my dad carrying me when it was too deep. The memories and interactions I had at those early ages have stuck with me and I continue to be a public land duck hunter to this day, ever the more so passionate.
I attended college at St. John’s University in Minnesota and earned a BA in Economics. I wanted to keep my career in the outdoors and began a management career with Cabela’s a few years out of college which eventually landed me in Mitchell, SD. The opportunities afforded in this state are seemingly endless for the year round sportsman.
My interest in public land preservation began in correlation with my interest in backpack hunting for elk and mule deer in the mountains. I had heard very little of the concerns prior to being involved in that community. I’d love to be able to help spread the word to other areas of the hunting community as well.
Patrick Rubendall - BOD, Tea, SD
My name is Patrick Rubendall. I was born and raised in eastern South Dakota. I am 53 years old. I grew up hunting, fishing, and exploring my family’s land along the James River. The only land I had ever hunted was land my family owned. Public Land didn’t exist to me. Fast forward to my late forties. After MANY poor life decisions, along with irreconcilable differences with my family, accessibility to the land I grew up on was no longer available to me. This was inevitably a crushing blow to me! In 2010 I ended a 20 year marriage, as well as a 20 year career. Life had spiraled out of control for me. Alcohol and drug addiction had taken its toll, and would eventually take everything from me. I destroyed relationships, blew my retirement money, and nearly lost my life. I gave away all of my guns, archery equipment, dozens of deer mounts, tree stands, ect. Then, by the grace of God, on 12/11/12 I began my new life of sobriety. The summer of 2015 my youngest son talked me into hunting again. That year was so challenging for me because I had never hunted public land before! I consider myself a good woodsman. Dealing with other people in the same woods as me was the challenge! That first year I passed up a few bucks, but didn’t harvest a deer on public land. In 2016 I killed the biggest buck of my life on public land and it was unbelievable! So grateful for that opportunity! The outdoors is where I find peace, and it’s a major part of my recovery and always will be. I’m engaged to a wonderful woman now, and I have 2 sons aged 25 and 21. My passions are traditional archery, Bass fishing, and fighting for public lands and waters!
Tim Hagg – BOD, Humbolt, SD
I grew up outside of Mitchell SD and currently reside outside of Humboldt SD. In my free time, you will likely find me doing anything outdoors including hunting, fishing, shooting guns, or helping on the family farm.
Public land is important to me as it is predominately all that I have hunted for the majority of my life and want my experiences to be available for not only my families future generations but all Americans as well.
Michael Tollefsrud - BOD, Spearfish, SD
Growing up in Spearfish, South Dakota I was blessed with the opportunity to hunt, fish, and hike right out my back door. When I was very young my older brother refused to do anything outdoors so my dad drug me along. We went on hikes that I still feel today turned me into the hunter and hiker I am today.
I have spent the last 6 years fighting fire for different BLM offices around the western US finishing my career with the Ruby Mountain Hotshots in Elko Nevada. There I traveled around to some of the most beautiful and majestic public lands trying to save them from burning. When I first heard that fire was not my biggest threat to loosing my public lands it scared me more than fire ever had. I am very proud to be apart of BHA and am excited to keep fighting the fight to peek public lands public!
Sam Kezar - BOD, Lennox, SD
I am a Husband, father, arborist and avid archery hunter. I grew up hunting on a small chunk of family land in northern Minnesota surrounded by endless acres of public land. The places to hunt were endless. After grad school when I had time to get back into hunting I quickly realized that places to hunt were not as easy to find as back home.
Public land and public land access are very important to me along with wildlife conservation and land management. The ability to recreate across this great country on public land is an immense privilege and well worth protecting.
My career is as a consulting arborist and working with trees. But my passion is hunting and the outdoors.
Tyler Kroh - BOD, Brookings, SD
Robert Mahaffey - BOD, Rapid City, SD
I was born in Wyoming, then moved to Washington State at a young age. Growing up there I learned to Steelhead fish as well as spending numerous days each fall hunting blacktail deer with my dad. At age 14 we moved to Eastern South Dakota where I fell in love with waterfowl hunting, trapping and archery hunting. I was blessed to have grown up when everyone gave you permission to hunt private land. Over the years gaining permission became harder and harder due the growth of pay to hunt hunting operations. At an early age I learned to appreciate the opportunities of public land. In 2015 our family moved to Colorado for employment opportunities. That was when I was first introduced to BHA. I became a Habitat Watchmen for Colorado BHA overseeing the Pawnee National Grasslands. I was immediately impressed with all of the projects and programs that the state chapter had to offer. In 2018 we moved back to SD where I was fortunate to be able to join the South Dakota BHA Board. We currently live in Rapid City where my wife and I own our own business. We have 4 amazing kids and they all have a love for the outdoors. I’ve made a commitment to educate and recruit others to join BHA as we as a board fight every day to keep public lands in public hands.