FORMER BOARD MEMBERS
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!
Vice President 2016-2019
Twenty-four years ago bought my first rifle, left a cul-de-sac childhood for the Great Land and never looked back. I spent a few years in Chitina River country re-programming myself into a self-sufficient subsistence user and falling in love with the northland. Relocated to Kachemak Bay and have based out of there most of the last 20+ years, with a year on Kodiak and three in Turnagain Arm sprinkled in the middle. Like a lot of us, I’ve worked at whatever I could along the way: commercial fishing, ADFG tech, placer mining, auto repair, guiding skiers, hunters and fishermen, and most recently as builder specializing in remote sites statewide and managing my rental properties. Adventure is my main driving force and thus I never go hunting the same place twice. I consider myself a meat hunter (yes, for sheep too) and have not purchased meat from the grocer for 24 years due to the bounty of Alaska. I felt that bounty ebbing and began to get involved in the Board of Game process a few years ago in an effort to turn that tide and also to put back to society; to help ascertain that future generations have similar opportunities that I have been so fortunate to have. I believe that RHAK is the most efficient vehicle for this purpose and I commit to fighting for Alaskans’ priority for state resources.
Vice President 2019-2020
JR Gates grew up in southcentral Alaska where his eighth-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 three 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 six-foot black bear.
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.
Board Member 2016-2017
Tom grew up in Ashland, Wisconsin and had dreams of coming to Alaska starting in the 3rd grade. "I was totally focused on hunting and fishing from a young age and enjoyed running a trap line during high school." Tom went to Regis College in Denver, Colorado and after graduation moved to Fairbanks. He has commercial fished (seined) in Southeast Alaska, drift netted in Bristol Bay and on the Lower Yukon and gill netted herring in Norton Sound. He worked on the pipeline and several rural airports as a surveyor, taught school in Fairbanks, ran heavy equipment and has his own mining claims in the Chisana District. "My wife Kate and I try to keep our freezer full of wild game. We have four retrievers and hunt ducks and upland birds. We also hunt moose, caribou and sheep in various places and have good friends that share when we aren’t lucky." Tom resigned from the RHAK Board in 2017, to avoid a conflict of interest, after being appointed to the Board of Game by Governor Walker.