Colorado BHA Southwest Regional Director (& BHA life member), Dan Parkinson, was born and raised in Denver/Lakewood and says, as a boy, the area seemed to on the western edge of civilization. “As a child I roamed the fields of seemingly wild places west of our home and dreamed of hiking/backpacking from our house over and through the mountains—just to see what was out there,” he says.
Dan’s parents encouraged each of their children to “get out there and explore the fields and mountains,” and some of his fondest family memories are of camping and fishing trips in the mountains of Colorado and the West. “Mom and Dad planted the seed of appreciation for wild places and wild things in me and it is a gift that I hope to share with others,” Dan says.
Aside from some plinking, field archery and an occasional rabbit hunt, Dan didn’t really start hunting until a college buddy got him hooked on archery elk hunting. “The perfect combination of backcountry challenge, adventure and wonder and awe,” he says. His angling preferences have changed from dedicated bait-bobber fishing for “anything that you could eat,” as a kid, to small stream fly-fishing for wild trout.
Dan and his wife, Laurie, moved to Durango in 1982, where they raised two children, Tommy and Erin, and built a family cabin on the nearby Pine River. Dan worked for years as a small-animal house-call veterinarian serving a large area of southwest Colorado.
Later, as owner and managing veterinarian of Riverview Animal Hospital, Dan developed a special interest in pain management. He retired in 2013, but still lectures around the country, assisting veterinarians in efforts to improve patient comfort and safety. Dan also provides specialized end-of-life care for pets in La Plata County through TenderHeart Pet Hospice.
Dan and Laurie live on the Pine River near Vallecito where Dan hunts elk, deer, turkey and occasionally grouse, ducks and geese. “I am an avid traditional archer who prefers the simplicity of the longbow, but will occasionally use a shotgun,” Dan adds. He’s also leading Colorado BHA’s Volunteer Signage and Bighorn Observation Program.
Cody was born in California. He honed his early fishing skills going after corvina in the Salton Sea and channel catfish in the canals of the Imperial Valley. “This area has lots of small parcel BLM lands that are great for quail and dove hunting,” Cody said. “My dad was able to teach me all the basics here, but my love for hunting and angling began when we moved to Colorado.”
As Cody was preparing to start high school, his father—drawn to the mountains of southwest Colorado—moved the family to Dolores. After moving to Colorado, Cody adds, “The Lower Dolores River became my angling playground, and the western San Juan’s Lone Cone, Dolores Peak, Lizard Head and Bolum Pass became my backyard for hunting deer, elk, turkey and grouse.”
He attended college at Western State College in Gunnison, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies and minoring in Wildlife Biology. “Since moving to Durango in 2004, I have expanded my range to include much of the Weminuche Wilderness,” he said. Cody works for the U.S. Forest Service and is on the USFS national engineering team.
Previously, he was assigned to the San Juan National Forest for ten years as an Engineering Technician. He still hunts deer, elk and turkeys, and shoots the occasional grouse for camp meals. “I spend a couple weekends each year hunting waterfowl and occasionally fly fish to get out and enjoy the wild and scenic country of our waterways,” he says.
Cody hunts big game with a bow and is teaching his young son to hunt and fish. “I started hunting waterfowl in the winter and found that it provides a great opportunity to share hunting with my son,” he said. “Local reservoirs and the San Juan River in New Mexico provide plenty of opportunity.” Cody has also organized multiple Durango area Pint Nights and helped a group of local members put together a Hunting Film Tour showing.
Cody is a fifth-generation Coloradan. He was born and raised in Gypsum and learned to hunt from his father and mother. “I started hunting as soon as I could draw my bow of 5 lbs and look through iron sights on my Crossman bb gun–age 5,” he said. “As a kid, the small open spaces shaped my days—fishing the Eagle River, exploring adjacent State Wildlife Areas, and the BLM land north and south of town.”
He called in his first bull elk after turning 7, ran traplines with his dad during the winter and shot willow-branch bows in the summer. “At night, I fell asleep listening to a cassette tape by hall of fame bowhunter, Larry D. Jones. I memorized the Boone & Crockett scores and stories of all the elk and mule deer bucks in ‘Colorado’s Biggest Bucks and Bulls’ and devoured Peter Hathaway Capstick books like candy.”
Cody currently practices public lands and natural resource law in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and North Dakota. He lives in Durango and hunts big and small game, and fishes rivers and high alpine lakes. Cody hunts with a compound and longbow. “The San Juans provide sanctuary for myself, my wife and our growing family,” he says. “The empty spaces and the wildlife therein are equal pillars of my personal ethos.”
Luke was born in southwest North Dakota, but grew up on Colorado’s Front Range. He spent his summers, and many winters, fishing for walleye and northern pike with his father and grandfather in western North Dakota near their family ranch. His first hunting experiences were small game, pheasant and deer.
“My father and grandpa were my original mentors and taught me my early knowledge of hunting and fishing,” Luke said. “Later on, I wanted to pursue different quarry and would take advice from anyone willing to give it.” He moved to Durango in 2007, where he enjoys hunting and fishing the rugged San Juan Mountains.
“I have added a host of species to my repertoire, including elk, bear, trout and just about anything else that is legal,” he added. “I mainly pursue elk, mule deer and turkey. I love fly-fishing for anything that will take a fly.” Luke prefers to hunt with his bow, but still gets out with a rifle and shotgun.
He is currently a student at Oregon State University pursuing a BS in Natural Resources with an emphasis in Fish and Wildlife Conservation. His wife, who is a wildlife biologist, was his motivation for returning to school to pursue his passion. Luke works for the Natural Resource Conservation Service as a Soil Conservationist promoting conservation on private lands.
“I love public lands, but private lands are vital to wildlife habitat and connectivity, so I feel a passion for assisting landowners with conservation efforts,” he said. Luke was drawn to BHA while attending school in Oregon because of the values and missions of public lands and ethical harvest. Luke became more involved with BHA to protect public lands and promote hunting and fishing to the next generation through local advocacy.
“I joined BHA after the Malheur Standoff in Oregon and saw that members of the BHA community vehemently opposed the Malheur occupation, as did I,” he added. “This was not the first time I heard of BHA, but it was the original reason for joining.” Luke lives in Durango with his wife and dogs.
Chris was born in southern California but raised in Dolores, Colorado, from the age of five, where his family lived within walking distance of two reservoirs stacked with smallmouth bass, black crappie, northern pike, rainbow trout and channel catfish. Chris and his brother spent countless evenings fishing the shores of Summit and Puett reservoirs.
“While my brother served as my direct educator and hunting partner, our father was the driving force behind both of our desire to get lost on and enjoy the opportunities that our public lands provide,” Chris said. “While I believe I have developed my own sense of ethic and conservation, I credit my father and his eagerness to share the outdoors with his boys for my love of the mountains.”
Chris started hunting with a rifle and harvested a cow elk on his 13th birthday. “When my older brother got his driver’s license we shifted our public land use from the state wildlife areas to the National Forest,” he said. “As far back as I can remember we have been pursuing elk and mule deer during the Colorado archery season and early rifle seasons.”
“I have since developed a love for archery and prefer to chase rutting bulls in September, but still take a poke now and then with a rifle to keep the freezer happy when archery season doesn’t go according to plan or when various opportunities arise due to population dynamics and management needs,” Chris adds.
He went to high school in Dolores, graduating with 24 other students, and his passion for the outdoors led him to Western State College in Gunnison where he earned a degree in Wildlife Biology. During college Chris volunteered with Colorado Parks & Wildlife at Roaring Judy fish hatchery and worked on various projects with Gunnison’s sage-grouse, Red fox studies, small mammals and many others. His summers were spent in Dolores working as a seasonal wildlife technician focusing on resource utilization such as timber sales and oil and gas extraction.
Chris then spent 8 years working as a wildlife technician for the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service before accepting a position in Wyoming with a private consulting firm. He worked on Greater sage-grouse projects in addition to raptor research and banding efforts focusing primarily on Ferruginous hawks.
After a year in Wyoming, he ventured back to Colorado, accepting a crew leader position with Conservation Legacy, a non-profit working to prepare young adults for careers in conservation fields while simultaneously improving habitat and resources. He also worked for the Dolores River Restoration Partnership, treating noxious and invasive weed species along the Dolores River from Dolores, Colorado, to Moab, Utah.
When this position ended, Chris made the transition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in New Mexico. He completed a term position working across the state of New Mexico on all of the National Wildlife Refuges, with Bosque del Apache serving as his base. Currently, Chris works in Durango as a Wildlife Biologist for an environmental consultant focusing his time on species surveys and assessments, NEPA evaluations, reclamation efforts and many other ecologically-related tasks.
“The past few years we have focused our efforts on over the counter archery elk tags in southwest Colorado, honing our calling, stalking and decision-making skills, leading to a very successful 2018 archery season and a very happy looking freezer,” Chris said. “This year we will be hunting both Colorado and Montana over the counter archery elk tags.”
“We pass the time outside of archery season fishing, hiking, scouting, hunting grouse when we can and waterfowl in the brief window as they migrate through our area,” he added. “We also manage to sneak in some time on the Animas, Gunnison, Dolores and San Juan Rivers chasing the adrenaline rush that comes with netting a trout on the fly.”
“I not only hunt to feed myself and my family but also my soul. I find clarity in the outdoors and the adrenaline rush that comes with elk hunting and when you are ‘in his kitchen’ somehow purifies my system,” he said. “The greatest gift that has come from my passion for archery is an ethical patience. Being someone who can walk away from a close encounter that didn’t pan out due to poor shot presentation or any number of problematic situations yet still look at it as a successful hunt and still revel in the shakes that come post encounter is a win for anyone with this passion.”
Chris joined Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in 2017. He was introduced to BHA through the Backcountry Journal. While most of his time is spent in Colorado, he lives in La Plata, New Mexico (just south of Durango), with wife, Kelsey, and black lab, Chief, whom he still has hopes for becoming a duck dog.
“The breadth and depth of Chris’s knowledge of wildlands and wildlife, developed over a lifetime of hunting and fishing and studying these species and their habitat, speaks volumes about his passion for BHA’s boots-on-the-ground public lands and wildlife preservation mission,” Colorado BHA co-chair David Lien (a former Air Force officer) said. “We need many more like him!”