NRA Hunters' Leadership Forum Contributors

Karen Mehall Phillips is the director of communications for the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum and senior editor of NRA’s American Hunter. An avid rifle and bow hunter, she has hunted for 30 years and in 29 states, Canada, Italy, Finland, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, Greenland and Africa, including for two of the Big Five.

Karen draws on her experience to educate non-hunters on the critical role that hunters play in wildlife conservation worldwide and to inform them of the dangers anti-hunting extremists present to the future of wildlife conservation. She is invested in fighting America's culture war on hunters and hunting and works to shed light on anti-hunters’ blatant attempts to tout emotion and misinformation over scientific facts.

An NRA Endowment member, Karen worked in the NRA public relations arena prior to joining NRA Publications in 1998. She is the founding editor of two NRA official journals: America's 1st Freedom and Woman's Outlook. National writing awards include being named the 2015 Carl Zeiss Sports Optics Writer of the Year. She actively promotes women and families in the outdoors. She is also a member of the Washington metropolitan area's Fairfax Rod & Gun Club, a founding member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, a member of Safari Club International and a Life member of the Dallas Safari Club and the Mule Deer Foundation.

John Borkovich’s love of nature led him to become a wildlife conservation officer. Now retired, he served as a firearm instructor, a member of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Firearms Transition Team and a field training officer at the Conservation Officer Police Academy at Michigan State Police headquarters. He also served as an adjunct professor for the St. Clair County Community College’s criminal justice department. Borkovich’s book, “Wildlife 911: On Patrol,” is available through his website, The cost is $19.95 and can be purchased through PayPal with any major credit card. To read other articles by John Borkovich, please check out the following links:
A Conservation Officer’s View on How Hunters Care
Why I Served As a Conservation Officer
Father/Daughter Duo Assists in Nabbing a Poacher
A Conservation Officer’s View on How Hunters Care

Joe Byers has been an avid hunter and outdoor writer for the past four decades, resulting in thousands of blog posts, articles and published photographs. A crossbow enthusiast, he is the author of “The Ultimate Guide to Crossbow Hunting,” which includes several chapters on his African adventures at Rock Haven.

Chris Chaffin has been an outdoor communicator, educator and partnership manager for more than 40 years. On the national scene he has represented several prominent companies in the outdoor community and served two terms as treasurer of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), eventually taking on the roles of vice-president, president and chairman of the board. In 2007, he launched Chaffin Communications, Inc., a communications consulting company focusing on the outdoors. In 2012, with support from the Outdoor Adventure Dream Giveaway, Chaffin founded and currently manages the Outdoor Adventure Conservation Fund, a Florida non-profit established to encourage and facilitate more people participating in traditional outdoor activities.

Peter Churchbourne is an avid outdoorsman, conservationist and steadfast advocate for all hunters. His passion is anything to do with the outdoors, but most important to him is hunting waterfowl with his labs, chasing turkeys, bowhunting and introducing new people to the life outside. Peter has hunted in 42 states, Canada and South America. Before becoming the director of Hunter Services at the NRA, where he was responsible for developing the award-winning online hunter education program, Peter worked at Ducks Unlimited for 17 years in various positions around the United States. Peter is currently a director with the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum where he is engaged in building new NRA hunting programs and fighting for hunters' rights.

Keith Crowley is an award-winning writer and photographer and the author of three books on the outdoors: “Gordon MacQuarrie: The Story of an Old Duck Hunter,” (2003), “Wildlife in the Badlands,” (2015) and the newly released “Pheasant Dogs.” When he is not traveling in search of new stories and new images, you can find him at his home on a lake in northwest Wisconsin with his wife, Annette, and a collection of old dogs and old boats.

Mark Damian Duda is the founder and executive director of Responsive Management, having led the firm since its inception in 1990. He holds a master’s degree with an emphasis on natural resource policy and planning from Yale University. Mark has conducted more than 1,000 studies on how people relate to the outdoors. He is the author of four books on wildlife and outdoor recreation, including “The Sportsman’s Voice: Hunting and Fishing in America and Watching Wildlife.” Mark is a certified wildlife biologist whose research has been upheld in U.S. district courts, used in peer-reviewed journals and presented at major natural resource and outdoor recreation conferences around the world. His work has been featured in many of the nation’s top media. For seven years, Mark served as a columnist for North American Hunter and North American Fisherman magazines.

Mark has been named Conservation Educator of the Year by the Florida Wildlife Federation and National Wildlife Federation, was a recipient of the Conservation Achievement Award from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and was named Wildlife Professional of the Year by the Virginia Wildlife Society. He also received the Conservation Achievement Award in Communications from Ducks Unlimited and an award from the Potomac Ducks Unlimited Chapter for his contributions as a researcher and writer. Mark was also honored as Qualitative Researcher of the Year by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and received the 2016 Distinguished Leadership Award from the National Rifle Association. Mark is an avid hunter, sport shooter, angler, boater and birdwatcher.

Patrick Durkin of Waupaca, Wisc., is an award-winning outdoor writer, newspaper columnist, and general outdoors reporter. He also provides editing services for books and magazines. He is a frequent contributor to American Hunter magazine, was named contributing editor of the Archery Trade Association in 2001 and writes frequently for national archery and hunting magazines. In addition, he has been MeatEater's wildlife research contributor since 2018 and an editor for Inside Archery magazine, an archery industry trade publication, since 2014.

After serving in the U.S. Navy from 1975 through 1980, Durkin earned a journalism degree at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He spent the next eight years working as a sports reporter, education reporter, weekend editor and outdoors editor at the Oshkosh Northwestern newspaper before beginning his career in hunting magazines. He edited Deer & Deer Hunting magazine from 1991 through 2001, Whitetail Hunting Strategies magazine from 2002 through 2003 and National Whitetail Hunter’s Journal magazine from 2003 to 2006.

Durkin married his wife, Penny, in 1980, and they have three adult daughters and six grandchildren.

Brad Fitzpatrick is a full-time freelance writer living in Ohio. His works have appeared in several NRA publications and he has hunted on four continents. Fitzpatrick competed on his university's trap and skeet team and has served as an instructor for 4-H Shooting Sports. He's also passionate about conservation, particularly hunter-funded projects both in the United States and abroad.

Erin C. Healy works in the outdoor media industry, previously serving as an associate editor with the NRA Hunters' Leadership Forum. She edited a lifestyle magazine on Cape Cod for 14 years and provided marketing services for her local guntry club prior to working for BLADE magazine and a regional recreational fishing magazine. She served in the U.S. Army, is an NRA Life Member, a National Wild Turkey Federation member and sends her Jack Russell Terriers to ground as often as possible.

Jim Heffelfinger is a certified wildlife biologist with wildlife degrees from University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point and Texas A&M University—Kingsville. He has worked for the U.S. government, state wildlife agencies, universities and the private sector. Jim is the author of “Deer of the Southwest,” in addition to authoring or coauthoring more than 200 magazine articles, 50 scientific papers, 20 book chapters and five TV scripts. He is a Boone & Crockett professional member, a full research scientist at University of Arizona, chairman of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Mule Deer Working Group representing 23 western states and Canadian provinces and wildlife science coordinator for the Arizona Game & Fish Department. He has received the Wallmo Award, given to the leading mule deer biologist in North America and the 2009 Professional of the Year award from the Mule Deer Foundation. Jim is also a member of the International Defensive Pistol Association and the U.S. Practical Shooting Association and competes weekly with his 1911.

Bruce Ingram has been a freelance writer and photographer since 1983, selling over 2,400 magazine articles and 3,000 photos to magazines. Bruce has written five books on river fishing and he and his wife, Elaine, co-wrote “Living the Locavore Lifestyle,” a book about hunting and fishing for food, as well as gathering wild fruits and nuts and raising chickens, fruit trees and a garden. He is now writing young adult fiction novels and the first two of a four-book series have been published by Secant: “Ninth Grade Blues” and “Tenth Grade Angst.” Ingram is also a high school English and creative writing teacher. To learn more about his books visit Bruce Ingram Outdoors.

Tim Irwin was an editor at American Hunter from 1979 to 1981. He transitioned from writing the articles in major outdoor magazines to creating the advertising in them. For more than 30 years he owned and operated The Madison Agency, developing marketing and advertising strategies for major shooting sports companies including Realtree camoflauge, Walls Industries and Hunter’s Specialties. His photographs have provided authenticity to advertising for Lecia Sports Optics, Zeiss Optics, Beretta, Bennelli, Burris and Uberti. Irwin's passion in life is wildlife photography. His first book, a coffee table collection of whitetail images, is scheduled for release late this year. A second, on Western big game, will follow shortly thereafter. Irwin is also a contributing editor at SHOT Business. His mini-ranch in Montana’s spectacular Madison Valley is the perfect base of operations for his numerous book projects.

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer, photographer, columnist and editor who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is the founder of The Keer Group, a marketing and public relations company that specifically focuses on the vertical sports of hunt and fish. He is a senior editor and columnist for Sporting Classics magazine and edited USA Today's Hunt & Fish magazine for several years. Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines including, Field and Stream and Outdoor Life. When he and his family aren't hunting behind their four English setters, you'll find them in the turkey woods, a duck marsh or in a goose pit. Visit him at or at

Brian McCombie is a field editor and editorial contributor for the NRA's American Hunter. He writes about firearms and gear for the NRA's Shooting Illustrated website, as well handling public relations and marketing for companies and manufacturers in the shooting sports industry. He is a member of the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Brian likes hunting hogs, shooting 1911s chambered in 10 mm and .45 ACP, watching the Chicago Bears and relaxing with his two cats, Peanut and MikaBear.

Darron McDougal is a full-time freelance outdoor writer and editor who lives in Antigo, Wisc., with his bride, Becca. He's hunted in 12 states and successfully taken elk, bear, hogs, turkeys, pronghorn, whitetails and mule deer, most with archery equipment on DIY hunts. The McDougals enjoy all things hunting and shooting. They believe in God and love to travel.

Cody McLaughlin is a noted conservationist and conservative thought leader on public policy issues including hunting, fishing, gun rights, free-market tax and wage policy and the environment. He works as a GOP consultant for conservative political causes, managing clients’ digital communications and online presence and as a trustee of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, helping to represent the state’s 1.2 million sportsmen in the political arena.

Frank Miniter, editor in chief of the NRA's America's 1st Freedom, has been writing about hunting issues, gun rights and more for the NRA, and for Fox News, Forbes and more for over two decades. His books include “The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide,” a New York Times’ bestseller, “The Future of the Gun” and “Kill Big Brother.” His latest book is “The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide to the Workplace.” Miniter is a frequent guest on national radio and cable news shows. His website is

Lori Pace resides in Colorado with her family. She is a high school teacher and is married to Anthony N. Pace, founder of Freedom Hunters. Lori enjoys a multitude of outdoor opportunities with her favorites being pheasant and antelope hunting. When not teaching, being a mom or hunting, Lori enjoys reading, writing and print design for various professional platforms.

Alan Peterson is a filmmaker living in the paradise between the Wasatch Range and the Great Salt Lake. He loves shooting over his pudelpointer, Trigger; casting dries for cutthroats, and seeing cupped wings over decoys. All of this is only possible because of a very patient wife. Peterson is presently working on a documentary on the history of duck hunting on the Great Salt Lake and one on the life of fishing innovator, George Gehrke.

NRA Life member, award-winning outdoor TV host and recreational real estate associate broker Phil Phillips of Hayden Outdoors has hunted five continents, taking more than 200 big-game animals and nearly 60 species worldwide. Prior to hosting hunting programs, he started Colorado's first Ranching for Wildlife Program for antelope, which he ran for 15 years. Working alongside professional land managers to restore and protect habitat, Phil went on to guide clients to 500-plus big-game animals that have qualified for the record book. In 1992 Safari Club International honored him as the North American Bowhunting Outfitter of the Year. Email Phil at [email protected].

Max Prasac is an outdoor writer and the author of the “Gun Digest Book of Hunting Revolvers, Big-Bore Revolvers” and the “Gun Digest Book of Ruger Revolvers,” specializing in terminal ballistics and big-game handgun hunting. Max is a regular contributor to NRA publications, particularly the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website, American Hunter magazine and Gun Digest magazine, and is a Life Member of the National Rifle Association. He resides in Virginia with his family, two dogs and a turtle.

Jason Reid is an entrepreneur and writer from Upstate New York with a nomadic spirit. He has been a contributing freelance writer for more than a dozen publications and websites and has served on the board of directors for the Professional Outdoor Media Association for the past two years while helping companies grow across multiple industries. Jason has a passion for backcountry hunting, whitetails and gun dogs and for sharing the gospel of hunting with the next generation. Learning about hunting and wildlife conservation at an early age, one of his claims to fame is that he was featured in the centerfold of Field and Stream at age 14 alongside his brothers in an article promoting the youth hunting project known a “Young Bloods.”

Kevin Reese is an award-winning outdoor writer, photographer, videographer, Marine Corps Veteran, avid long-range shooter and passionate bowhunter. He continues to work actively as an industry voice for our shooting sports, personal defense and outdoor heritage, and contributes to several NRA Publications titles. Kevin resides in North-Central Texas with his wife, Kelly, and son, Jacob, a highly competitive swimmer. He spends most weekends hunting, at his local shooting range or poolside cheering for his son.

Over a career in outdoor publishing spanning 26 years, Diana Rupp has worked for a variety of national and regional outdoor magazines. She has been editor-in-chief of Sports Afield for more than 16 years. Diana owns and operates Trail’s End Media LLC, which provides editorial services and consulting to outdoor-oriented clients including and The Nimrod Society as well as Sports Afield. She is the author of four books: “Pennsylvania: A Guide to Backcountry Travel and Adventure” (1999), “Ask the Namibian Guides” (2013), “Great African Trophies” (2017) and “130 Years of Sports Afield” (2017). She has written scores of magazine articles for a variety of national and regional outdoor publications.

Born and raised in rural Potter County, Pennsylvania, where the opening day of deer season is one of the most anticipated days of the year, Diana was hooked on hunting at an early age. Today she lives in northern Colorado and travels extensively in pursuit of a wide variety of big game. Her adventures have taken her throughout North America as well as to Africa, Europe, Asia, South America and the South Pacific for species as diverse as Cape buffalo, grizzly, ibex and wild sheep.

Diana is a strong advocate for wildlife, its habitat, and the promotion of hunting as a wildlife conservation tool. She is a life member and habitat partner of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. She is also a member of the National Rifle Association, Trout Unlimited, Colorado Women Flyfishers, the Boone and Crockett Club, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and the Professional Outdoor Media Association.

Michael Sabbeth is a lawyer, lecturer, consultant and author. He lectures nationally and internationally on hunting and shooting ethics, rhetoric and the art of persuasion. For many years he has presented to International Hunter Education Association conferences and at major hunting and shooting conferences including the Safari Club International and the Dallas Safari Club conventions. He writes for about one dozen print and online hunting and shooting magazines. He volunteers with organizations that support hunting and shooting opportunities for disabled people including Veterans. He enjoys clay target shooting and fly fishing, which is, no doubt, mere amusement for the fish. He is author of “The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values." See He is completing his soon-to-be-published book “The Path of the Honorable Hunter: A Call to Action to Defend and Advance Hunting.” He lives in Denver, Colo. with his wife of 35 years and his three all-too-grown children.

Steve Scott is a self-proclaimed reformed attorney, long-time university instructor, and producer and host of the Safari Hunter’s Journal and Outdoor Guide television series. For more information, visit SteveScott.TV.

Catherine E. Semcer is a research fellow with the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) where her work focuses on free-market- and property-rights-based solutions to policy challenges in environmental security, conservation finance and sustainability. She is past chief operating officer of Humanitarian Operations Protecting Elephants (H.O.P.E.), a boutique non-government delivering training, advisory, assistance and procurement services to African counter-poaching programs. During her tenure with H.O.P.E. she was directly responsible for leading the opening of projects in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Ethiopia.

Catherine’s research and commentary has appeared in NRA’s Hunter Leadership Forum, the International Journal of Environmental Studies, The Hill and other publications. She has also been a guest on programs including Intelligence Squared US and EconTalk, where she has debated and discussed the political economy of African wildlife conservation.

Catherine serves as a research fellow with the African Wildlife Economy Institute at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. She is a member of the Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Protected Areas Finance Working Group of the Conservation Finance Alliance. Catherine is a contributing editor to Conservation Frontlines and a past field editor of African Indaba, the official African publication of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC.)

Catherine is a graduate of Muhlenberg College. In her spare time she enjoys upland bird and waterfowl hunting, trekking, fly fishing and sailing.

Award-winning outdoor writer and contributor Ron Spomer says hunting is everyone's way of connecting with true freedom—the freedom to interact with Earth as naturally as does a wolf, falcon or chickadee. During more than 50 seasons afield, Spomer has decades of hunting experience and writes regularly for multiple outdoor publications, including NRA Publications, sharing his vast knowledge on guns, ammo, optics and gear. For more information, including his top hunting tips and tactics, visit his website, Ron Spomer Outdoors.

James A. Swan, Ph.D. is co-executive producer of the “Wild Justice” series on the National Geographic Channel and chief executive officer of Snow Goose Productions, LLC. His 2008 documentary “Endangered Species: CA Fish and Game Wardens,” is the inspiration for the “Wild Justice” series. A recent project is as a co-writer for “Falconer: The Sport of Kings,” winner of Best Film and Script at Skyfest Festival. His book, “War in the Woods,” co-written with Lt. John Nores, (Lyons 2010), has been optioned for a scripted dramatic TV show, “Lone Pine,” that’s currently in development. He’s the author of 10 nonfiction books on human aspects of environmental conservation, including three about the psychological aspects of hunting, that have sold over 250,000 copies and over 800 articles and his columns have appeared in a wide variety of publications including and American Hunter. James also has appeared as an actor in 20 feature films, three dramatic TV series and 30 industrials, commercials and print ads. To learn more about James visit his website.

Legendary “Mr. Whitetail,” Larry Weishuhn, host and owner of DSC’s “Trailing the Hunter’s Moon,” is one of the most popular and widely-recognized wildlife biologists and outdoor media personalities nationwide. Over the past five decades, he has authored multiple books and numerous articles on hunting and wildlife conservation. In 2004 his book, Trailing the Hunter’s Moon, was named ForeWord Magazine’s Gold Book of the Year in the Adventure and Recreation category.


Jim Zumbo is a noted Western big-game hunter, though he has hunted deer in all 50 states and also pursues turkey, upland game and waterfowl. With two degrees in forestry and wildlife, he has had more than 2,000 articles published in outdoor magazines, written 23 hunting books and conducted numerous hunting seminars nationwide, including for NRA Hunter Services. In addition to serving as a full-time writer/editor for Outdoor Life magazine for 30 years, most of them as hunting editor, he was host of the popular outdoor TV show “Jim Zumbo Outdoors.” A Benefactor member of the NRA, Zumbo has won numerous awards for his writing and remains active with conservation groups, including serving three terms on the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s board of directors. His biography, “Zumbo, Based on the True Story of Jim Zumbo and His Blog Heard Around the World,” by K.J. Houtman was released in November 2016.