Michael Panasci - Chair
Michael grew up in the small logging town of Millinocket in northern Maine. Wildlife and the outdoors were a passion of his for as long as he can remember. He would spend hours alone exploring the woods and the Penobscot River behind his house as a young child. He never had a hunting mentor, but would jump at the chance when the occasional opportunity arose. Once he was able to hunt on his own (and sometimes before), he hit the woods and water as often as he could. Before he could drive, he would break down his shotgun into a backpack and ride his bike to some woods a few miles from his house to seek ruffed grouse.
Michael received a B.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut. While in CT, he became an avid archery whitetail hunter and took advantage of the state’s urban deer problem. A few field jobs out west subsequent to graduating college expanded his horizons to the opportunities provided by public lands. Soon, western hunting was within reach after moving to Lubbock, TX to start a M.S. in Wildlife Sciences at Texas Tech University. However, having developed as a hunter in Maine, TX hunting was a complete culture shock for Michael, and it took some time to figure out. He completed his M.S. and is now at the end stages of his Ph.D. in Wildlife Sciences at Texas Tech. He’s married and has a 2 year-old daughter and a newborn son. He lives for archery hunting white-tails, but also pursues wild hogs, sandhill cranes, waterfowl, rabbits, and anything else that provides good table fare, which is the source of 99% of his family’s meat consumption. He also archery hunts western public lands in CO and WY annually.
BHA was a natural draw for Michael, and his passion for hunting and science-based conservation led him to get involved in leadership at the state chapter level. He sees a TX chapter as filling a major niche on the national stage, primarily in relation to the land access challenges that TX sportsmen face. He also hopes to improve and expand public hunting opportunities in TX and more closely align wildlife policy with the North American model. He’s committed to not allowing the financial interests of a tiny minority to trump those of hundreds of millions of Americans, and is adamant that the American public should not be fooled into thinking that it is also in their own best interests.
Abe Bullman - Vice Chair
Abe grew up on a cattle ranch in northeast Texas where he learned the importance of conservation and developed an appreciation for our wildlife in Texas. A lifelong hunter, angler, and outdoorsmen, Abe has devoted a significant portion of his life to exploring our public lands both in Texas and the western U.S. He enjoys all aspects of hunting public lands from scouting in the heat of summer to the cold winter mornings spent waiting for the right buck or a flock of ducks to come close.
Abe's passion for public lands has led him from the casual observer to a full-blown advocate. He’s committed to leveraging all of his available resources to maintaining our public lands and defeating the effort to privatize and limit access to our public lands. Abe also co-hosts the Storm Water Creek Podcast, which is another avenue to help promote the conservation and use of public lands. BHA members often join the podcast to share stories and advice with the goal of helping listeners become more active in the outdoors and to educate them about both the opportunities available because of public lands and the threats faced by those lands. Abe is thankful to his wife, Tracy, for allowing his passion for the outdoors to grow and for supporting his advocacy efforts.
Colin McDermott - Treasurer
Colin received a B.S. in Accounting and a M.S. in Finance from Texas A&M University. He began deer hunting at an early age thanks to family influences and is fortunate to have access to a small track of private land in the Texas Hill Country. It was during his college days when he learned about the incredible public land opportunities we have in TX and across the U.S. He started chasing ducks on U.S. Army Corps of Engineer property and soon realized there were endless public land opportunities in our western states. Since those days, Colin’s been chasing big game and other quarry on public lands for 20 years. Fortunate to have discovered these public land opportunities while a teenager, this exposure has allowed him to develop an appreciation for our country’s public land resources, and the vast opportunities for both hunting and recreating on them.
Colin is passionate about BHA’s mission and he’s honored to be involved in leadership at the state level. He believes the Texas chapter has an important role in increasing national recruitment figures due to both our state’s hunting culture and our propensity to travel across the west seeking additional hunting opportunities. Colin has personally experienced the land access challenges that Texas sportsmen face and he hopes to improve and expand public hunting and river access opportunities in Texas. He’s committed to maintaining public opportunities both in Texas and across the U.S. for his children and others who are not fortunate enough to be able to rely on private land for outdoor recreation.
Colin Nelson - Secretary
Born and raised in the coastal plains of South Texas, Colin is a 5th generation Texan with an affinity for people and the outdoors. Growing up in the small town of Bay City, Texas, Colin was blessed with the opportunity to fish both fresh and saltwater at a fairly young age. At age 9, Colin began hunting dove and small game with his late Father and very quickly fell in love with bird hunting. Shortly after moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in 2000, Colin’s Father was diagnosed with ALS which quickly ended their time together in the field. Roughly 5 years after his Father’s passing, Colin returned to his childhood passion of dove hunting and began seeking other hunting opportunities in North Texas.
From hog hunting in central Texas to pheasant hunting in South Dakota, Colin has broadened his hunting horizons and looks forward to following in his father’s footsteps by adding big game to his list. Today, Colin is an avid duck hunter residing in Frisco, Texas with his wife and Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Dixie. Colin is a passionate defender of our public lands and coastal waters. He considers it an honor to serve his fellow outdoorsmen in the great state of Texas as Secretary of the Texas chapter. Colin looks forward to working alongside his fellow board members to further establish Texas as a leading chapter within BHA, as well as continuing to support the rights of all sportsmen and women for generations to come.
Rich Rosenthal - Policy Chair
Rich grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania to a family of non-hunters. As a young teenager, Rich was able to start his lifelong passion for hunting and the outdoors only through access to public lands. Having access to public lands, not only to hunt but also to fish, hike & camp were influential in his early upbringing.
Post college, Rich relocated to the Philadelphia, PA area and co-founded a Software/IT Services company for which he has served as the President/CEO for the past 24 years. The company started from nothing and now has customers in 17 countries and employees in 7 different states. During his time in Philadelphia, he was able to experience directly what the lack of accessible hunting lands means. Although there are plenty of farms with lots of whitetails, geese and small game in the suburban Philadelphia area, most landowners were not open to allowing hunting access to their property.
In 2016 after seeing 2 children graduate college, Rich and his wife Sharon relocated full time to San Antonio, TX. Recently Rich was able to experience 2 successful western hunts in Idaho on public lands for elk & mule deer.
The Texas hunting model is unique with less than 2% federal- & state-owned lands and much of that not available for hunting. This situation led Rich to join BHA and he is excited about the opportunity to help provide young people with the opportunity to access our public lands.
Austin Brown- Corporate Relations Coordinator
Austin grew up in the Texas panhandle in the cattle and oil rich town of Amarillo. He’s always been into the outdoors, beginning with family camping trips and his first fishing experiences chasing rainbows in Red River, New Mexico with his grandfather. The love of the outdoors continued as he became an Eagle Scout in his teens.
Austin lives in north Dallas with his wife Lauren, who is also an avid hunter. He describes himself as “late onset” as hunting was not something his family did. As he discovered the existence and opportunities on public land as a young adult, he dove in head first and now has 2 western elk hunts behind him and the next one in the works. Austin also co-hosts the Stormwater Creek Podcast and is usually only a sentence or two away from talking about public land, duck hunting, or his dog Max. Most of his time outside of work is spent scouting, hunting, or fishing, as he and his wife aspire to acquire all of their household’s meat from wild game and fish. Austin is very happy to be involved with BHA and has helped with both youth and adult hunter recruitment trainings and seminars. He’s passionate about keeping the hunting and conservation traditions alive and thriving and also about keeping our public lands accessible.
Brandon Shook - Events & Fundraising Chair
Brandon is a 6th generation Texan who lives in Austin with Kristen, his wife of 9 years, and his 2 beautiful, outdoor loving daughters. He grew up hunting and fishing all over Texas on both private and public lands. Brandon loves chasing whitetails and fishing for reds and trout along the Texas coast.
He is passionate about educating people, especially fellow Texans, about the value of being able to access and explore our public lands across the nation.
Brandon is fired up to help maintain BHA as the premier force among sportsmen groups in helping to preserve and protect our public lands across the nation. He’s enthusiastic about growing the membership of BHA in Texas and building the Texas chapter into a formidable voice influencing state policy-makers and politicians. He hopes to convince others that now is prime time to get off the bench and start getting our hands dirty in bringing awareness about our rights as public land-owners to the Lone Star State. Brandon hopes to partner with fellow Texans to finally become good shepherds of the public lands that we own.
Joel Smith - Director of Public Outreach
Joel grew up fishing with his family on the Texas coast and has always had a love for the outdoors as well as target shooting. Not having been raised in a family with a hunting heritage, it wasn’t until his late twenties that his love for hunting took root. He bought his first hunting rifle at age 30, and his first real opportunity to hunt whitetails presented itself the following year. Once that first buck walked out of the brush into a clearing, he was hooked for life. Over the next 7-8 years, he continued to develop lifelong bonds with hunting partners. Encouraged by the locavore movement, Joel’s passion for procuring his own food lead him to learn to process his own meat and develop his skills at cooking all sorts of wild game. He also developed an interest in gardening to minimize his ecological footprint.
As an adult onset hunter, Joel is also passionate about helping to remove the barriers to entry to the hunting world that some people find so hard to overcome. He prides himself on being available to anyone who might want to investigate the opportunities to provide meat organically for themselves through education and firsthand experience. Mostly self-taught, Joel scoured hunting literature, online forums, podcasts, and hunting friends and family for tips and advice. He started his journey with private land opportunities but, in the last few years, has discovered the myriad of public land opportunities on the Texas Coast for ducks and geese. From these small game successes, he has ventured into hunting whitetail and feral hogs on public lands in Texas. In 2019, he plans to expand his hunting realm to the inter-mountain west for elk, where the protection of our public lands is critical for public hunting opportunities.
Joel, like many others before him, was connected to BHA through MeatEater. He knew his advocacy for public lands was critical for new hunter opportunities and success, and his passion led him to volunteer with TX BHA’s Houston public outreach efforts. As a board member, his goals are to help with adult hunter recruitment programs, support hunter retention, help broadcast the public lands conservation message to more Texans, and to be a great voice for the conservation ethos espoused by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.