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.
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.
Alex was born in the suburban sprawl of the Piedmont region in North Carolina. His only exposure to hunting growing up was in the form of stories. Classic texts the likes of "Where the Red Fern Grows" sparked an ember that was finally able to blossom in adulthood. Alex went to undergraduate college for Ecology and Field biology in the mountains of North Carolina where he developed a passion for fly-fishing and hunting on public lands. He now has his master’s of science in GIS and works primarily on hazard mitigation analysis.
From an early age he always dreamt of owning a hunting dog. Ultimately, his pursuit of running bird dogs in large open swaths of public land sent him out west. Alex has been in the Durango area since 2011 and his passions for conservation, while all encompassing, are focused on education, wild bird habitat and forest health, conservative trail placement, public land access, and recreation impact mitigation.
While Alex’s primary pursuit is upland game, he also has years of archery elk experience. More recently he has taken up rifle and muzzleloader hunting in order to free up more time for running dogs. He first joined BHA soon after arriving to Colorado and reading books by David Petersen, a local Durango author and founder of the first BHA state chapter, here in Colorado.
Mentorships and education are very important topics for Alex. His life-long mentor and uncle from Pennsylvania helped him appreciate the experience enough to want to pay it forward. Alex is currently an apprentice hunter education instructor and led a Turkey Hunting Seminar with BHA in the spring of 2021. Alex is excited to organize more events in the future.
Wild birds have it tough and the old saying “what’s good for the bird is good for the herd” is near and dear to Alex’s heart. The entire East Coast has lost most of its Ruffed Grouse habitat due to poor forest management. Alex’s most enthusiastic point of conservation has to do with habitat. Seeing how habitat loss has caused the decline of so many species has made him want to do more to protect the good habitat that is left. It isn’t just bird habitat that gets Alex riled up either, but also deer, elk, sheep, pollinators, bats and amphibians.
Habitat is a broad topic, it isn’t just the quality of the ecosystem health on a ground level, but also the impacts of human activities on that ecosystem that need to be monitored and managed. At the end of the day, the things that Alex cares about require a force of like-minded individuals. He wants to help empower BHA members to do good boots-on-the-ground and pencil-to-paper conservation work.
“Alex has a serious passion for hunter education, R3, and shaping ethical sportsmen/women,” Southwest Colorado Assistant Regional Director, Luke Kline, said. “He has been involved in SW CO meetings in the past and helped with multiple events (including hosting the turkey hunting seminar here in SW CO). He will be an asset to our team.” “I heartily recommend him,” added Southwest Colorado Regional Director Dan Parkinson. “Alex is an earnest and thoughtful outdoorsman and a dedicated advocate for wild places and wildlife.”