Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The IRA Charitable Rollover Is Back

The IRA Charitable Rollover Is Back 

There are Still Donor Opportunities for 2014!

Make a tax-free distribution from your IRA accounts (up to $100,000) to charitable organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The IRA Charitable Rollover was enacted to encourage older Americans to give out of their IRA accounts. Congress has provided a one year extension of tax provisions through December 31, 2014, retroactive to January 1, 2014.

This is a popular avenue to make a meaningful outright gift to RMEF.
  • People age 70½ and older can take advantage of this opportunity to give up to $100,000 tax-free to charity. 
  • These charitable rollovers qualify for the yearly required minimum distributions (RMD). 
  • While the IRA owner cannot take an income tax deduction for this transfer, they won’t have to report the transfer as taxable income. 
  • Transfer the money directly from their IRA accounts to charitable organizations. 
The charitable rollover can be advantageous to donors from a tax standpoint if:
  • They do not itemize deductions. 
  • They pay state income tax but cannot take charitable deductions on their state return. 
  • They would not be able to deduct all of their charitable contributions because of deduction limitations, or 
  • An increase in taxable income would negatively affect their ability to use other deductions. 

Please consult your financial advisors to confirm this concept works for you. 

For more information, please contact us at legacy@rmef.org or 1-800-225-5355 and ask for the Development Department.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

RMEF Grant Opens Access to 189,000 acres of Wyoming Elk Country

Below is a 4/7/2014 news release from Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Donates to Game and Fish AccessYes Program

CASPER - The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) recently donated $45,000 to the Wyoming Game and Fish AccessYes program to secure access for hunting and fishing across Wyoming, through the Private Lands Public Wildlife (PLPW) Access Program. This is the largest single donation to AccessYes.

“RMEF is an outstanding partner and supports a variety of wildlife related projects in Wyoming. A dollar does not go very far these days, but it will open more than 4 acres of land to hunting and fishing access. Sportsmen will see many acres become available to them with this amazing RMEF donation,” says Scott Talbott, director of Game and Fish.

In Wyoming, RMEF Chapters raised $1,524,844 in 2013 alone, landing them number one in the nation for raisingfunds. The organization is dedicated to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and the hunting heritage. “RMEF has worked with Game and Fish on numerous projects involving everything from conservation easements to brucellosis and wolf management,” says Talbott.

“We are grateful for RMEF support and thank them for this generous donation,” says Matt Withroder, regional access coordinator.

Funding for AccessYes comes from several sources, primarily conservation stamp sales, donations and restitutionpayments. Hunters and anglers also have the option of donating to the program when they purchase or apply for a license. Sportsmen donations can only be used for purchasing easements for Hunter Management Areas and Walk-in Areas.

AccessYes donations go directly to the access program and every $1 donated provides access to 4.2 acres of land.

In 2013, the PLPW Access Program provided more than 2.8 million acres of access for hunters and anglers. Thisincludes 1,090,708 acres on Hunter Management Areas, 687,517 acres in Walk-In Hunting areas.

For more information, visit the Game and Fish web page at wgfd.wyo.gov under the PLPW Access Program or contact the Casper Game and Fish office at (307) 473-3400.

Matt Smith: Running for the Bulls

Matt Smith raised $3,000 for an RMEF
Habitat Partnership at his first marathon
Everyone’s heard of running with the bulls, but what about running for the bulls (and cows and calves, too)?

And—if training for a marathon isn’t challenging enough, how about trying to raise $2,500 at the same time to support your efforts? 

That’s exactly what Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Wisconsin state chair Matt Smith did this past May when he decided to tackle the Wisconsin Marathon. A runner for years, 47-year-old Smith had already completed a handful of half-marathons in his lifetime, each time walking away from the experience proclaiming: “People who run full marathons are crazy!” 

But last Christmas when the application for the Wisconsin marathon/half-marathon event appeared in his mailbox, for reasons he still can’t explain, Smith checked the marathon box. “People compare me to a Clydesdale,” he says of his 6-foot-2-inch, 230-pound frame. “I’m not built to run marathons.” 

Yet he found a four-month marathon training program and began pounding out the miles. About a month into it, Smith had an idea. 

“I thought, if I’m going to do all this work, I’d sure like to round up some awareness and proceeds for the Elk Foundation. In Wisconsin we’re always looking for unique ways to raise funds other than big game banquets. Why not try to raise $2,500 to put toward a habitat partnership?” 

Smith created a space on a fundraising website called www.crowdrise.com, put together a short video narrated by his 11-year-old daughter Shae, and began advertising his goal to RMEF staff, members and volunteers, as well as family, friends and colleagues. In the video, Shae speaks to her dad’s love of nature photography, camping, fishing and bowhunting—pastimes Smith says help him find what Celts refer to as the “thin place,” where one feels just inches away from God. 

Smith’s love of wild places and his desire to protect them is what attracted him to the RMEF 12 years ago. He rolled up his sleeves and volunteered at the first big game banquet he ever attended, and never looked back. Today Smith is a Life Member, Habitat Partner, and serving his fifth and final year as state chair.

On race day, Smith arrived conditioned and ready to go, and cruised comfortably along the shore of Lake Michigan until rounded the 20 mile mark. Then he hit the wall.

“The last 6 miles were straight into a 30-mile-per-hour headwind,” Smith recalls. “Right around mile 22 my legs were spent, and it was all I could do to cross that finish line.” 

But he got a little help. At mile 26, Shae met her dad on the course, took his hand, and ran the final .2 miles by his side. “For a dad, it was a pretty cool moment,” Smith says.

And the habitat partnership he was working toward? Smith ended up raising $3,000—and something more. 

“Probably 80 percent of the people who contributed were family, friends and colleagues who had never given to the Elk Foundation before,” he says. “The effort raised awareness of the Elk Foundation and its mission to a whole new audience.”

For this Clydesdale, that was icing on the cake.

Elk Hunters Care: Five Short Stories that Prove It

The following is a reprint of an article submitted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that appeared in the January issue of SuperLooper, the official publication of the United States Team Roping Championships.

Sometimes, hunting gets a bad rap. Some people point an accusatory finger at hunters claiming they have no respect for the game they seek and only hunt to kill. The truth is hunting offers an opportunity to men, women and children to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of critters, their habitat and how all of nature is tied together. And the bottom line is hunters really do care.

Below are five examples of elk hunters who cast aside their rifles, bows, or hunting and scouting quests in order to save the wildlife they both love and love to pursue.

Calf Rescue in Idaho

Young elk calf gets help to go free
Two bowhunters from Idaho in their mid-20s searching for elk in the west-central part of the state came across an elk calf stuck in a sludge-like wallow. Elk, especially bulls, are drawn to wallows where they coat themselves with a stench-like perfume to attract cows and intimidate other bulls.

“When we got really close, the mom came charging into the meadow and was barking at us from 45 to 50 yards away,” said Jeff McConnell. “We both ran away from the calf because we were like ‘Oh crap something may happen here!’ because they can be mean when you’re close to their babies.”

The cow backed off so McConnell and friend Brant Hoover threw a few larger logs in the wallow to improve their traction, got ahold of the calf by the hind legs and pulled her out.

“She stood up kind of slow. You could tell she was tired. She walked a little bit, looked back at us, and kind of trotted away. Then we both looked at each other like ‘That was the coolest thing that will probably ever happen to us in the middle of the woods!’ We both said we wouldn’t leave until we got her out of there. Hiking out of the woods, we couldn’t stop talking about it. It felt pretty good to know we did the right thing by rescuing that animal. It was pretty cool. We couldn’t sleep. We talked about it all night,” Jeff added.

Oregon Brothers Team Up to Free Tangled Calf

Brothers work together to free elk
Jordan and Jerin Say were looking for elk as they headed into the forest of northeast Oregon. Little did they know they would purposely let their prey walk away. While searching the landscape with his binoculars, Jordan saw an elk’s belly. As they hiked closer, they saw why. It was all tangled up in barbed wire fencing. They used some tools to pry the clips off the fence posts.

“When we got her out of the fence she laid there for a good five minutes confused and not knowing what to do. We finally poked her with a stick just trying to get her going to see if she could stand. She got up kind of looked at us and ran off with no problems,” said Jordan. “It was the neatest thing I've ever seen! I'm all about fair chase but when you see a helpless animal, you have to put the hunt aside. All I could think about is helping that calf and making sure she had a chance to live.”

Three Elk Freed from New Mexico Wallow

This cow was up to its neck in muck
Several ranch hands found a deep wallow on their land in extreme north-central New Mexico. On three different occasions they found three different elk buried in the muck either up to their shoulders or right under their jaw. One of them, a cow, had apparently been there several days because birds had “tried to peck her eyes out.”

“Being a hunter is not always about killing game. Sometimes, you have to help out,” said Donald Carrillo, who is also a hunter.

Not only did they free each of the animals but they returned and built an eight-foot high fence around the wallow to make sure it would not happen again.

Father and Son to the Rescue

Trent watches elk calf go free
Matt Woodward took his son Trent to do some scouting for the family outfitting business in west-central New Mexico. His heart skipped a beat when they came across a small elk calf with one of its hoofs stuck in the lower rungs of a barbed wire fence.

“I ended up getting a couple of tire irons and tools out of the back of the truck to pry the wire apart and work her hoof out of there. The calf was a little beat up. She rubbed herself a little raw on the fence but I think she’ll be just fine,” said Woodward. “It was very cool. My son had never seen an elk up that close. It was a really neat deal for him. He had a glow on his face about it.”

Calf Freed in Montana

Jim Loomis assists elk
Two Montana hunters came upon an elk calf with its front right and left rear legs stuck in a four-strand barbed wire fence. It was so zapped of any energy that it could not move.

“It wasn't a good sight upon initially walking up to her,” said Seth Wheeler.

Thirty to 45 minutes later, the calf was finally free.

“It seemed like she knew we were there to help her. We are hunters, but above all we are conservationists and wanted nothing more than to save this majestic animal!” added Wheeler.

Further proof of that fact is easy to come by. Just look to the quarter-century of fence work by thousands of RMEF volunteers scattered all across the country.

Since 1988 RMEF has helped provide both funding and volunteer manpower to pull more than 360 miles of fence in 16 states. Places like Arkansas’ Buffalo National River, Arizona’s legendary Unit 9, Washington’s Asotin Creek and Colorado’s Browns Park. How many elk and other animals have been saved by these efforts is impossible to tell, but it’s safe to say the work has made for healthier herds, helped fill many a freezer, and built goodwill with ranchers.

For those interested in upgrading fences, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has created a terrific 56-page manual, A Landowner’s Guide to Wildlife Friendly Fence, which shows the best options, guidelines and special considerations. It’s available on FWP’s website.

Idaho's Public Access Program Honored at Elk Camp

Below is a news release issued by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The award was presented at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's recent Elk Camp national convention in Las Vegas.

Access Yes! Receives 'Open Country' Award

Every year, Outdoor Life Magazine acknowledges individuals, non-profits, corporations and state/government agencies with their "Open Country" awards. This year the award for a state/government agency was given to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for the Access Yes! Program.

According to Outdoor Life, "Hunters and anglers across the nation consistently list one challenge as their primary obstacle to spending more time in the field: access." 

In giving the award to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the magazine praised Access Yes! as "one of the finest access programs…"

Access Yes! provides payment to private landowners willing to open their ground to public hunting and fishing access. In 2013, Access Yes! provided access to nearly 320,000 acres of private land and an additional 485,000 acres of public land.

For more information about Access Yes! in Idaho, go to go http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/accessyesguide.aspx

Outdoor Life Editor-in-Chief Andrew McKean (left) presents award to Idaho Fish & Game
Commissioner Lane Clezie

Monday, December 15, 2014

RMEF Honors Kentucky for its Elk Restoration Efforts

RMEF Team Elk Host Brandon Bates, RMEF Vice President of  Lands
& Conservation Blake Henning, KDFWR Commissioner Greg Johnson.
Commission member Frank Williams, RMEF Chief Operating
Officer Rod Triepke (left to right)
Plain and simple, it was a big award presented on the biggest of stages. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation honored the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) and the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission as co-recipients of the 2014 RMEF Conservationist of the Year Award. The presentation took place before more than 1,000 RMEF members at RMEF’s recent Elk Camp national convention in Las Vegas.

“Kentucky has been and remains a prominent example of a state dedicated to ensuring the future of elk and elk country,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice-president of Lands and Conservation. “Not only did KDFWR and the Commission show great passion and dedication in restoring elk to the native Kentucky landscape, but they successfully worked to implement recent restoration efforts in other states as well.”

KDFWR, the Commission and RMEF worked cooperatively to help release 1,547 elk into Kentucky from 1997-2002. Now with more than 10,000 elk within its borders, Kentucky boasts the largest herd in the East. It also established an annual elk hunt beginning in 2001. 

As impressive and successful as that was and is, the award is actually focused more on Kentucky's recent commitment to eastern elk restoration. The Department and Commission pledged their support to successful elk restoration efforts in Missouri (2011) and Virginia (2012), plus they just signed an agreement to assist with elk restoration efforts in Wisconsin. In addition, Kentucky’s wild elk also crossed the state border into West Virginia—a state that is in the midst of determining whether it will launch its own elk restoration efforts.

Our thanks go out to the KDFWR and the Commission for leading the way by example!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Kids Flock to Youth Wildlife Conservation Field Day

More than 100 boys and girls and their parents converged on the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation headquarters in Missoula, Montana, last October for a free Youth Wildlife Conservation Field Day to learn about RMEF’s conservation and hunting heritage mission, North America’s wildlife and the value of spending time outdoors.

Created by RMEF through the generosity and vision of Larry and Brenda Potterfield of MidwayUSA, this event had previously been a part of Elk Camp in Las Vegas. 

“We hoped these kids would leave the event with a curiosity about the outdoors, and a healthy respect for the importance of wildlife conservation,” says Ralph Cinfio III, RMEF vice president of fundraising services. 

The local Cabela’s store staff gave kids an opportunity to shoot BB Guns in their inflatable BB gun range and held a fly-fishing seminar. In addition, the local Sportsman’s Warehouse hunting manager taught basic archery skills and kids got a chance to practice shooting at targets set up outside in the parking lot. Volunteer big game measurers from the Boone & Crockett Club hosted a beginner’s scoring session, where youths learned how to score elk antlers. The Montana Trapper’s Association president, vice president and district director also were on hand to teach about the value of trapping and show how it can be an efficient and effective management method.

As part of the National Be Bear Aware & Wildlife Stewardship Campaign, local Girl Scouts and the Be Bear Aware staff demonstrated the importance of appropriate safety techniques for hiking, camping and hunting in bear country, and for viewing and living with wildlife safely and responsibly. The youths were asked to test their knowledge about bears, mountain lions and other wildlife. They even got to practice the proper technique for discharging bear spray, using test cans containing a benign spray formula, as taught by the Be Bear Aware staff. 

After a free on-site lunch, the event wrapped up with drawings for both young people and adults for Daisy Red Ryder BB Guns, Browning Yukon Backpacks, a Tikka rifle and RMEF Team Elk Packs. No one went home empty-handed though, as everyone received a free grab bag with a copy of Bugle, a Team Elk Season 3 DVD, a RMEF bandana or hat, decals, a RMEF calendar, an elk call and a free RMEF youth membership for all youth participants. 

“The future looks bright for conservation and our hunting heritage, thanks to the generosity and vision of the Potterfields and MidwayUSA,” says Cinfio.

“This event was a great way for young people and their families to learn about the importance of conservation and what RMEF is all about,” says Crystal Parrish, RMEF chapter services coordinator, who volunteered to help out with the weekend event. “I enjoyed watching the kids have fun learning about activities they can do outdoors, and I really hope it encourages both the kids and their families to get out and enjoy elk country.”

Lauren Hummel
RMEF Field Program Manager