Tension for Denver attorney comes from his bowstring

Executives Out of the Office

Tension for Denver attorney comes from his bowstring

Premium content from Denver Business Journal by Paula Moore, Special to the Business Journal

Date: Friday, November 30, 2012, 4:00am MST

Kathleen Lavine | Denver Business Journal

Bruce Kugler, a patent attorney and president of Sheridan Ross PC, is an avid bow hunter.

Hunting is in ’s blood.

The Denver patent attorney grew up hunting with a rifle in his native Colorado, and on the farm where his father was raised near Bridgeport, in southwestern Nebraska. His dad’s family members hunted because they needed to.

“They were so poor, they hunted for food,” Kugler said. “The farm was in the middle of nowhere.”

Kugler, 54, is a patent attorney and serves as president at downtown Denver law firm Sheridan Ross PC, a specialist in patent, trademark and copyright law. His clients include Broomfield-based Ball Corp. (NYSE: BLL), Colorado School of Mines and Swedish auto-accessory maker Thule Group.

The attorney grew up in southwestern Denver and graduated from John F. Kennedy High School. Kugler played football — strong safety — for two years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He remembers his sophomore-year coach — , who later would lead NFL teams such as the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants — as “tough.” Kugler transferred to Colorado School of Mines and earned a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering in 1981.

Kugler then worked as a petroleum engineer on a Gulf of Mexico oil rig for seven years — and hunted in Louisiana and Mississippi — before returning to Colorado to get his law degree. He graduated from the University of Denver College of Law in 1992.

Kugler started bow hunting about 10 years ago, and mostly hunts elk. Colorado has the world’s largest elk herd, at more than 280,000 animals, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The excitement of the sport for Kugler is stalking an animal and being in a natural environment.

“Hunting is about conservation and preserving habitat,” Kugler said. “It’s a way to conserve and manage animal herds.”

Another of bow hunting’s big attractions for Kugler is it requires the hunter to get relatively close to a wild animal — only 40 or 50 yards away. He’s gotten even closer than that.

Among Kugler’s favorite hunting experiences was a Colorado elk hunt a few years ago, when he was so hidden — in his camouflaged clothes and sagebrush blind — that a massive, five-point bull elk came near enough that he could hear it breathing and could have touched its hoof.

“Having 800 to 1,000 pounds of wild animal breathing on you is incredible,” he said.

Kugler also relishes the art of hunting — the preparation for, and process of, hunting as humanely as possible. He enjoys backpacking into the terrain where animals live, blending into that environment, camping at altitudes as high as 13,000 feet and packing out what he bags. He makes his own arrows, and aims to make a clean shot that takes an animal down quickly.

In his hunting career, Kugler has used rifles and black-powder guns, also called muzzleloaders. For bow hunting, he prefers a high-tech, compound bow, which has pulleys and cables that reduce the amount of force needed to pull the bowstring back and helps produce a more accurate shot. It costs roughly $1,000 to $1,200 to outfit a hunter for bow hunting, according to Kugler.

He has hunted bighorn sheep, moose, bear and birds as well as elk. When Kugler lived in Alaska, he shot caribou. One of his favorite local places to hunt is near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in southwestern Colorado.

To stay in shape for bow hunting, the attorney practices archery at his Jefferson County home. He’s good enough that he has shot one arrow into another about a half-dozen times, in what he calls a Robin Hood shot.

Kugler is teaching his three sons to hunt, carrying on a family tradition — and maintaining a connection to pioneer roots. The Nebraska farm where his father grew up had ruts from the Oregon Trail, when Kugler was a kid, and over the years, the family found arrowheads from tribes that once populated the area.

“Hunting was a family thing in Nebraska,” Kugler said.

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