Southeast Chapter Leaders

Ty.jpgTyrell Woodward - Regional Director

“I am excited for the future of BHA and my personal involvement. The more I invest in the organization the more I get out of it. I am continually finding that there are more and more like-minded hunters and anglers who also call BHA home.” –Ty Woodward, Colorado BHA Southeast Group Regional Director[1]

Ty was born and raised in Lamar, Colorado. He grew up hunting small game and upland birds (pheasant, quail and doves) along with fishing the lakes—for walleye, crappie, catfish, small and largemouth bass—in southeast Colorado. Ty moved to Colorado Springs for college and started hunting elk, mule deer, and Arkansas River Valley whitetails, in addition to working as a seasonal employee for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and in the hunting department at Sportsman’s Warehouse.

He heard about BHA through the MeatEater podcasts with Steven Rinella. “After listening to the podcasts and discussions with guests,” Ty said, “I decided that an organization with the caliber of hunters/conservationists represented in his podcast was worth my involvement and money.”

Ty has a BS in Biology from Colorado College and a MS in Wildlife Biology from CSU-Pueblo. He was a CPW seasonal technician for nine years and currently lives in Florissant, working as a Private Lands Wildlife Biologist, with a focus on Forested Habitat, for CPW, NRCS and the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. “I currently hunt elk, whitetail, mule deer, turkeys and small game, including pheasants,” Ty says. He hunts with both rifle and bow.

“I would also like to note that I am excited to be able to pass along the traditions of hunting and fishing to my children as they grow older like my dad did for me. I have the support of a wonderful wife which allows me to spend time in the woods each year and increases the gratification of filling the freezer with game meat,” Ty adds. “I am excited for the future of BHA and my personal involvement. The more I invest in the organization the more I get out of it. I am continually finding that there are more and more like-minded hunters and anglers who also call BHA home.”

Ben Montgomery -  Assistant Regional Director1cSoutheast_CO-Ben_Mongomery.jpg

“As a prior resident of Texas, where publically available land is rare, the threat of the loss of public lands and access to those lands is an issue that greatly concerns me.” –Ben Montgomery, Colorado BHA Southeast Group Assistant Regional Director[2]

Ben was born and raised in rural central Missouri, near the Missouri River. “I began fishing as a young child (too young to remember),” he says. “I started with rod and reel, fishing for bluegill and crappie in the Missouri River bottoms.” He learned to fly-fish at eight, catching rainbows in the spring-fed streams of the Ozarks, and was hunting at age nine, primarily for small game, mentored by his father and brothers. Ben killed his first deer at 11 and today primarily hunts the high wilderness areas of the American Rocky Mountains. “My passions are elk and waterfowl,” Ben says, “though I hunt everything from rabbit to turkey to black bear.”

Although Ben is mostly a trout angler these days, given the opportunity he will gladly spend a weekend fishing for crappie. He hunts with both rifle and compound bow, but also shoots a recurve. Ben graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and currently works as a Systems Engineer with the Defense Contract Management Agency in Colorado Springs.

He lives in Peyton, and says: “As a prior resident of Texas, where publically available land is rare, the threat of the loss of public lands and access to those lands is an issue that greatly concerns me.” 

john_barkowski.pngJohn Barkowski - Assistant Regional Group Leader

John was born and raised in Orland Park, Illinois (south suburb of Chicago), and traveled often to visit family in Colorado. He grew up hunting (bow and rifle) and fishing with his dad, grandpa and family friends on the Chippewa River in Ojibwa, Wisconsin, as well the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In the fall, hunting included white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, pheasant, doves and Canada goose. Species for fishing included bass, walleye, muskies, crappie, perch, trout and northern pike.

After high school, John moved to Marquette, Michigan, where he graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Science from Northern Michigan University (NMU). Upon graduation, he moved to New Orleans and worked on a variety of recovery projects from Hurricane Katrina. His outdoor time in the south was spent chasing redfish and speckled trout mixed in with mule deer and antelope hunts in Wyoming and an elk hunt in Montana. 

He moved to Colorado during 2015 and is currently pursuing his masters degree in forest ecology as well as a certificate in advanced silviculture and currently works for the Colorado State Forest Service conducting surveys for the forest inventory and analysis program. “I’ve always been a member of hunter-conservation groups,” he said. “I co-founded the student chapter for Ducks Unlimited at NMU and have been a member of both RMEF and Mule Deer Foundation.”

Wanting to do more, John refers back to a statement he heard in college, which resulted in him changing majors: “Nature exists within the balance of itself but humans continue to threaten its existence.” With that notion in mind, he joined Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and started his pursuit of protecting public lands.

John currently spends much of the season chasing elk, mule deer, whitetails, antelope, bear and turkey. “I’m looking to expand that list with other North American and African species, and improve my fly fishing skills,” he says. John and his wife live in Colorado Springs.

Brad Athmer - Event Director

brad.jpgBrad grew up on the southern Illinois plains between the Kaskaskia and Mississippi Rivers in Freeburg, Illinois. “From an early age my father and grandfather had me on a pond, lake or river with a fishing pole in my hand,” he said. “I started hunting at around six years old. Squirrels, rabbit and upland birds were what I began hunting.”

Shortly after high school, Brad joined the U.S. Marine Corps. “After bouncing around the United States from San Diego, California, to Pensacola, Florida, to Jacksonville, North Carolina, I was afforded the opportunity to go explore other lands,” he said. “Okinawa, Japan, was the place I called home for three years.” During this time, he enjoyed every opportunity to explore the wild jungles and lands of Southeast Asia. 

Upon completion of active duty service, Brad took a job with Intel Corporation, which led him and his family to Arizona. Since then they have moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Brad is pursuing a degree in Aviation Management. He joined BHA in 2016 and has been a Life Member since April 2019.

“A long network of friends brought me into the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers family and taught me the value of our public lands,” Brad said. “The strong traditions of hunting and fishing I experienced growing up in rural Illinois fueled my passion for the outdoors and adventure.” Most of Brad’s hunting has been with a rifle, but he is getting in to bow hunting.

Southeast Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and other public lands have become Brad’s new outdoor adventure destination. “I look forward to getting out exploring and hunting all small game, waterfowl, and big game,” he says. “I am a novice fly fisherman at best but look forward to honing my skills in the many Colorado rivers.”

Screen_Shot_2019-10-30_at_9.43.29_AM.pngKyle  Vistuba - Membership Recruitment Coordinator

Kyle was born in Texas but raised in Colorado. “My dad first took me fishing when I was 5,” he said. “First tried some dove hunting when I was 10 and started hunting big game when I was 12 with pronghorn and deer.” Kyle attended the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS) and has a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Environmental with an emphasis in GIS. His free time on weekends, when he isn’t hunting/fishing, is spent working at a bike and ski shop.

“I do enjoy small game hunting, but spend most of my time hunting big game, including elk, deer and antelope,” Kyle says. “Recently had a successful mountain goat hunt. Spend summers fishing for trout and recently discovered how fun ice fishing is.” Most of his hunting is done with a rifle, but Kyle also uses a muzzleloader and bow. He first heard about BHA on the Meateater Podcast and lives in Colorado Springs.

Drew_T_Pic.jpgDrew Trujillo - Sponsorship and Media Coordinator

Drew was born and raised in Falcon, Colorado, just outside of Colorado Springs. He grew up going on elk hunts with his father and grandfather and went fishing occasionally, but sports was a priority for him growing up. Drew attended Mitchell High School in Colorado Springs where he played football and baseball, then attended King University in Bristol, Tennessee, and played starting shortstop for three years.

“It wasn’t until after I was done playing college baseball and moved back to Colorado Springs that I found my passion again for our public lands,” he said. “I wouldn’t be who I am without the influence of both my father and grandfather. My father is my best friend and someone that I will never be able to thank enough for what he has done to help me find the outdoors again after my playing days. Thank you Dad!”

“I am a year round outdoorsman here in Colorado,” Drew added. He hunts turkeys in the spring and spends summers scouting and fishing high alpine lakes. “Picked up fly-fishing recently and fell in love even though I’m definitely still a beginner,” he says. Drew also hunts elk, antelope, mule deer, whitetails and bear with bow and rifle along with chasing waterfowl. “Ice fishing has become one of our favorite activities as a family,” he said.

“The people that I have already met through BHA in this short time I have been involved have become some of my closest friends and great hunting partners,” Drew says. “We are very excited for the future of BHA here in Colorado, we have built an extraordinary team and can’t wait to see what’s in store for us! My nephew, Isaiah, has been the biggest influence for my family to protect public lands for him and future generations and he is a strong motivator for the effort I put into what we do here with Colorado BHA.”

Drew heard about BHA through both the Steven Rinella and Randy Newberg platforms. “Had a great conversation at an event here in Colorado Springs with Ty Woodward, our regional director,” he said. “Got involved as soon as I could after that!” Drew worked for the LA Clippers and Colorado Springs Sky Sox before making the move to the commercial insurance industry. He lives in Colorado Springs with his “beautiful partner in crime, Elizabeth Borris.”

Drew also appeared on Fox News discussing/promoting Colorado BHA’s “Campfire Stores: A Public Lands & Military Event” in Colorado Springs, which was held on Thursday, August 1 (at Stargazers Theater). Also see: “Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Team Up With Veterans For Campfire Stories.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 8/13/19.