BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Brad Sparks was born and raised in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He began hunting while in college for whitetail deer and Eastern turkeys. This hobby became an addiction and changed his life forever. During some postgraduate work, Brad was able to do a rotation in Alaska at the Alaska Native Medical Center. After going on his first do-it-yourself hunt as a nonresident, he knew this would be his home someday. Once he completed his postgraduate education in 2008, the Alaskan dream became a reality for Dr. Sparks. Brad loves learning about and pursuing Alaskan big game in this amazing state. While not hunting several weeks a year, he enjoys photography, hiking, traveling, fishing, ATVs and snowmachines. As a founding member of RHAK, Brad wants to help restore the resident’s preference to our big game animals!
RHAK Vice President
JR Gates grew up in southcentral Alaska where his eight grade science teacher told stories every day about flying around the vast expanses of Alaska hunting, fishing, and experiencing all that life in this state had to offer. His imagination was captured and JR completed his private pilot training within a year of graduating high school in Seward, Alaska. Now, JR and his wife Rachel raise their 3 children in Anchorage, where he runs a small business and lives every day thinking of a new place to explore or a logistical challenge to overcome as he passes on his love for Alaska to the next generation. His favorite saying is “there are too many lifetimes to live in this state!” JR enjoys moose hunting with his bow, solo sheep hunts, Kodiak deer hunts with friends, or whatever adventure gets him into a corner of Alaska that he has never seen before. The hunting highlight of his career was watching his eleven year old daughter harvest her very first animal last spring, a fluffy 6-foot black bear. As a founding board member of RHAK, JR feels that the current regulatory system is too easily enticed into needlessly restricting residents when there is non-resident money involved. Without a strong organization and advocacy group like RHAK, hunting liberties and opportunities will continue to erode and his kids may never be able to take off on a crisp autumn morning in their own efforts to experience all this amazing state has to offer.
Mark and his high-school sweetheart, Lori, married and made the big jump to Alaska from California in 1980. They arrived by canoe, descending the mighty Yukon River from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. They moved to the remote bush of the eastern interior the next summer, lining their laden canoe scores of miles up a Yukon River tributary and building their log cabin from dead-standing spruce with only an axe and bowsaw. The rugged bush life must have agreed with them, for they spent over 30 years in the remote bush more than one hundred miles from the nearest faraway village, living a subsistence lifestyle of hunting, fishing, trapping and gardening, and raising a family of three children and several generations of beloved sled dogs. Mark's time in the bush taught him a profound respect for the fish and wildlife resources he has been dependent upon for so long. He is passionate about giving back to Alaska and protecting hunting opportunities for resident Alaskans and their families. The Richards' now base out of Fairbanks for most of the year. Mark enjoys giving wilderness living presentations to high schools and helping with hunter education classes, along with promoting RHAK's message across the state.
Rob moved to Alaska as a toddler, when his parents drove the ALCAN highway in search of hunting and fishing adventures. Rob’s father learned to fly shortly after they arrived, which opened up this great state to exploration and adventure. As the eldest son of a furnace repairman and sheet metal worker, Rob learned to work hard and persevere to protect his family and the Alaskan way of life. Rob began hunting and fishing at an early age, harvesting his first caribou at age 8. Besides sitting in the “right seat” of his father’s Cessna before he could see over the dash, Rob’s ground school started at Dimond High School, taking what is now called Aviation Science. Rob attended the University of Oregon for his undergraduate work, followed by Gonzaga University School of Law. After graduation, Rob clerked in the United States District Court for the District of Alaska, for Chief Judge Singleton, then worked in a local law firm, finally opening his own law practice in 1998. Rob enjoys flying, hunting, and fishing with his children. Rob’s son Matthew has been his main hunting partner since Matthew harvested his first caribou at age 8. His daughter Olivia is his fishing buddy, as she loves to catch anything that will bite the hook. For many years, Rob also hosted Alaska Outdoors Television, sharing hunting and fishing experiences on Fox and the Outdoor Channel. Until the controversial Board of Game passage of the Board's very own Proposal 207, Rob was like most Alaskan hunters; he looked at the new regulation booklet every year and then went on with his hunting and fishing. But the passage of Proposal 207 opened Rob’s eyes to a process that is broken; a process that fails to protect the harvest by Alaskan Residents. Rob wants his son and daughter, and generations of sons and daughters, to enjoy the privilege of hunting, fishing, and flying in Alaska. Rob is proud to be one of the founding members of Resident Hunters of Alaska, dedicated to helping Alaskans preserve the resources for future generations. Before RHAK, Alaskan resident hunters did not have a voice; now we do!
RHAK Board Member
Bob moved to Alaska in 1977 with his family and started college the same year in the University of Alaska system in Anchorage. He skinned his way through college working part time at a taxidermy shop while spending as many days as he could out enjoying hunting and fishing adventures while going to school. Graduating with a BS in biology from UAF he landed a dream job with ADF&G as a wildlife technician in the Anchorage office putting his biology degree to use in South Central Alaska where the first teeth he pulled were on Kodiak brown bears immobilized from the back of a Bell helicopter with a dart gun, flying numerous big game surveys including doing the age/sex composition surveys for sheep in GMU 14C. During this time the Federal/State split on how subsistence was going to be managed demoralized Bob and he left ADF&G for dental school, completing his postgraduate training at the University of Washington. After returning to Alaska from dental school, Bob and his wife Cynthia settled in the Valley and began to seriously enjoy the great outdoor experiences Alaska has to offer. They purchased the family Piper Cub from Cynthia’s father and still have it today, Bob having recently rebuilt it himself over six winters, giving reliable transportation to remote areas of Alaska that few people see.
Brian Watkins was raised in a hunting family in Pennsylvania. Hunting was ingrained into his family's heritage and he decided to take it one step further. Chasing the dream of hunting and fishing in North America's greatest state, Brian made the move to Alaska from Pennsylvania with a suitcase, bow, and a rifle. His passion is do-it-yourself hunts throughout the entire state, and his latest was a tough hunt on Raspberry Island for Roosevelt elk. As you can see from his bio picture, he was successful! Brian believes it’s important to give back to the state. He volunteers time and resources helping new hunters get started, advises fellow hunters on proper preparation, and believes wholeheartedly in continuing opportunities for future generations of Alaskans to hunt our vast state.
RHAK Board Member
Born in Montana and growing up in the rural mid west, Tyler Loken learned his carpentry trade and his love for the wild. Tyler came to Alaska at 19 and for almost 20 years has learned, enjoyed and respected Alaska’s wild. He sees high-dollar and look-at-me hunting eroding the true sense and responsibility that comes with hunting in our great state. “There is balance and room for all, but the Alaskans that live here, work here, pay taxes here, fill their freezers here, should not take second string to commercialized hunting.” Tyler enjoys spending time with his daughters and bowhunting. He serves on many building industry boards and committees and is a member of the Anchorage Fish & Game Advisory Committee.
RHAK Board Member
Adam Grenda was born and raised in northern Idaho and lived for hunting, fishing, and a life outdoors. At age 17 Adam got his Coast Guard six-pack license, and for the next several summers between college semesters he guided in Alaska as a fishing guide and then returned to Idaho in the fall to hunt and study. In 2009, he first stepped foot in a de Havilland Beaver. Adam then knew what he wanted to do for his career. He completed his private pilot license in less than a month, and moved on to get his instrument, commercial, flight instructor and float plane ratings. He began flying Beavers on floats for various fishing lodges for the next several summers, accumulating thousands of hours of flight time. Adam graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Recreation and met his wife, Tana, in Idaho in 2014, after she had also just returned from Alaska getting her air traffic control degree from UAA. After they got married, Adam and Tana moved to their dream location in King Salmon, Alaska, where he is a pilot for the federal government. They bought their dream airplane, a Piper Super Cub, to venture on all of their own dream hunts and adventures. Adam loves planning, researching and preparing for his hunts and looks forward to the logistical challenges that Alaska offers. At the 2018 Board of Game meeting in Dillingham he met Mark Richards from RHAK and began to see that residents do not have a priority in Alaska. Adam’s life revolves around hunting and he is passionate about resident hunting rights in the state he plans to reside in forever.
RHAK Board Member
In 1974 I was 11 years old when my Dad, sister and myself packed our bags and left California to move to Alaska. Most of our relatives thought Dad was crazy to move two young kids so far away from family and home, but for us, it was an adventure of a lifetime – and still is! As kids, dad drug us up and down every river or creek that crossed the road from Anchor Point to Fairbanks. The places we went, the things we saw and the fish we caught are as vivid in my memory today as they were the day we experienced them! 45 years have passed since those early days and a lot has changed. I’ve had the opportunity to hunt and fish in just about every region of the state. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the extraordinary! Alaska is still an amazing place that has plenty of surprises and opportunities for all residents to experience. The only requirement is the freedom to go and the willingness to see what’s over the next hill. Those hills will always be there but the freedoms and opportunities for residents are something that cannot be taken for granted and complacency must be overcome. Most of us are so busy working and raising families, that it’s easy to overlook or even realize that hunting opportunities for resident Alaskans are being slowly “shaved” away one small opportunity at a time. RHAK has become your voice – the voice of the working Alaskan who just want to take their family hunting and put some meat in the freezer. I’m proud to be part of such a group!
Outside of hunting and fishing, I make my living as a General Contractor. I’ve lived in Eagle River / Chugiak for 45 years and I’m married to my sheep hunting partner, Shelly – “The Toughest Chick I Know!” We’ve raised a “pile” of kids the last 30 years. Some like to hunt more than others, but one thing they all have in common with most kids today; there are a lot more distractions for them today than when we were young. But through all those distractions, I’ve never had a young person say, “no” when I’ve asked them if they wanted a plane ride, or to go hunting or fishing – they just need to be asked. Never quit asking!