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.
Board Member 2019-2021
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!