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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This Partnership Is All Heart

Jacob Rhoad, a 13-year-old at the time with muscular dystrophy, killed his dream bull last fall thanks to the Outdoor Dream Foundation, Go West Outfitters and Oregon volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The Outdoor Dream Foundation (ODF) is a nonprofit organization based out of South Carolina that grants outdoor adventures to children who have been diagnosed with terminal or life-threatening illnesses. For the past nine years, RMEF chapters in Oregon—including the Central Oregon, Hillsboro, McMinnville, Newport and Tillamook chapters—have proudly teamed up with ODF to provide elk hunts in the Beaver State for children who dream of pursuing the wily wapiti. 

During the first four years of the partnership, Oregon volunteers supported one young hunter per year. Over the past five years, we’ve supported two to four children per year. In 2014, we will support three young hunters. The grapevine is obviously working in terms of getting the word out that RMEF volunteers and the citizens of Oregon provide a wonderful experience for these kids, many of whom are traveling out West for the first time. 

Last year we supported three children from the East Coast, all of whom shot a bull. Jacob Rhoad, a 13-year-old from South Carolina with muscular dystrophy and not a lot of muscle strength, stood out in particular. He had to be carried on the hunt by his dad or one of the guides. He didn’t have enough finger strength to pull a trigger, so he used an air trigger, which fires the gun when he blows into a tube. One shot at 417 yards, and Jake dropped a six-point bull scoring 347 Boone & Crockett. To top the week off, he landed a 14-pound rainbow trout on one of the high mountain lakes in the Ochoco Mountains. He also enjoyed a tour of the U.S. Forest Service Air Center in Redmond that included wildland fire-fighting demonstrations by smoke jumpers.

Getting these kids out on these hunts is truly a team effort. Many wonderful RMEF volunteers and people in our local Oregon communities give generously of their time and resources to make this program successful.

ODF makes arrangements for the transportation for the youth and a parent or guardian. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife provides the tag that is good for any elk between September 1 and November 30. Local ranchers and timber companies offer access to their land and expertise on locating elk.

Cabela’s and Mossy Oak provide the clothing; Columbia River Knives & Tools gives each child a top-of-the-line hunting knife. Thompson/Center and CVA donate rifles, while Leupold provides the scope and Nosler the ammunition. Local merchants donate food and hunting equipment. Local taxidermists donate full head mounts, and local butchers cut, wrap and prepare the meat for shipment at no charge. They’ve been busy, as our hunter success rate over the past nine years has been 95 percent. 

RMEF, through its state grant program, provides funds to fill in the gaps, covering expenses such as food, shipping the head mounts, lodging before the flight home and other incidentals. Our chapter volunteers may provide the transportation from the airport to the hunting camp, or help out with the cooking. Sometimes they provide fishing trips, crabbing trips and tours of the local area if the young hunter kills his or her elk early. Each year, Morna and Jerry Bastian from the Klamath Falls Chapter hand craft and donate a personalized comforter for each child.

While we all give to this program, we’ve gotten so much more in return. Sadly, some of the kids we’ve supported are no longer with us. But they’ve definitely left their mark. It’s quite humbling to watch terminally ill children work so hard to kill an elk, partly because it’s their dream, but also because they don’t want to let us down. These kids are all heart.

If you know a terminally ill child with an outdoor dream, visit www.outdoordream.org or call (864) 226-8775.

If you’re local RMEF chapter wants to get involved with ODF, call Swede French, RMEF Board of Directors, at 503-637-5163.

Volunteers Add New Twist to Indiana SAFE Event

Volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Indiana Chapter supervise at the shooting range during the chapter’s 3rd annual SAFE Challenge event, held at the Craig Family Camp last September.

One sure-fire way to keep people coming to an event is to change it up a bit, and that’s exactly what RMEF’s Indiana Chapter did for its 3rd annual SAFE Challenge event, held at the Craig Family Camp on Saturday, September 7. 

About 150 individuals, including 70 youths and their families, and 30 volunteers (20 from the Indiana Chapter) attended. Participants included 22 girls and 48 boys ages 7-17 from various social backgrounds. 

We began the day by registering the participants and assigning them to either the “new” or the “advanced” group, based on age, firearm experience and whether the participant had previously attended a SAFE Challenge event. Indiana Chapter chair Joseph Toy then welcomed everyone and provided a brief summary of how the day would go. Afterward, we split the kids up into their separate groups, with the “new” group attending the wildlife conservation and management class taught by conservation officer Travis Campbell from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and the “advanced” group attending the firearm safety class taught by Mark Dillon, Indiana certified firearm instructor. 

After enjoying a grilled hamburger and hot dog lunch provided by the volunteers, we reassembled the groups for afternoon classes. The participants in the “new” group headed to the firearm safety class, while the “advanced” group participated in the brand new Advanced Hunting Course. 

The Advanced Hunting Course started off with the participants firing practice shots with the BB guns they would carry on the ½-mile-long course through the woods. The course featured 38 targets at 10 shooting stations, each of which was manned by at least one qualified adult volunteer who scored the shooters on hits and gun safety. Each station had different amounts of life-sized targets, which included balloon, knock-down and moving targets. Other targets had hunter orange on them. If participants shot at those targets, they lost five points. 

Each BB gun was preloaded with 50 BBs, and participants could shoot at any target as many times as they wanted. But if they ran out of BBs prematurely, they would receive a score of zero on the targets that they did not complete. Volunteers collected the scorecards when a participant completed the course. Scoring went as follows: 

Balloon Moving Targets: 10 points
Knock Down Targets: 5 points
Standing Balloon Targets: 5 points
Gun Safety: 1-5 points

Meanwhile, when the “new” group finished firearm safety class, they headed down to the firing range in groups of 10, where they received one-on-one, hands-on firearm instruction with .22 rifles. Participants shot five rounds at a practice target before moving to the five scoring targets with three shots each. At the end of the day, everyone enjoyed dinner at the dining hall before gathering at the front of the lodge for the award ceremony. Toy spoke about the day’s events and thanked all of the participants and volunteers for their hard work and commitment. Each participant received a certificate of completion, and we awarded trophies for “Best Average” in the “new” group and “Best Shooter” in the “advanced” group. Every participant also received a raffle ticket for a chance to win an RMEF hat at the end of the event. 

Thanks to everyone who helped make our 2013 SAFE Challenge event a great success. With the introduction of the new Advanced Hunting Course, we could provide quite a variety of learning opportunities for each of the participants. We can’t wait for this year!

Jim Craig
Indiana Chapter 

Bob Stewart: A Life of Service

When the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was only two years old, Bob Stewart recognized the organization’s potential and signed on as a volunteer for the Central Oregon Chapter.

The first couple of years were challenging. But Bob and the other volunteers worked together, and now, 28 years later, they lead the most efficient chapter in Oregon, and one of the most efficient in the United States! All told, the chapter has raised $2 million for conservation. This wasn’t an accident. It happened because smart people rolled up their sleeves and got the job done. 

Bob served as the chapter chairman for seven years, then the assistant chair, mentor and coach for at least that many more. He has been at every banquet, every work party, every ticket selling event for 28 years. Bob has been a Life Member for years, and recently became a Habitat Partner. His leadership efforts also extend to the Outdoor Dream Foundation, where he has helped Oregon RMEF Chapters participate in assisting children with terminal illnesses hunt elk and deer. 

As impressive as Bob’s volunteer service is, his service to his country is even more amazing. He was recently selected from a large group of nominees to receive the Semper Gratis Award from the Safari Club International’s Southwest Washington Chapter for his heroic actions during his combat tour in Vietnam. The award is designed to recognize someone who has significantly contributed to a sporting organization after making heroic contributions in a war zone. 

Bob approaches his volunteer service with the same energy and commitment that he approached his military service. After being drafted into the Army, he volunteered to attend the elite Army Ranger School, assuring himself a tour in Vietnam upon completion. He was initially assigned as a Squad Leader, then a Platoon Sergeant. 

During his tour in Vietnam, Bob was continually in the field, oftentimes engaging the enemy. On August 22, 1969, he and his squad were participating in a ground reconnaissance operation when they came under intense automatic weapons and small arms fire from an entrenched enemy force of unknown size. Without regard for his personal safety, Bob maneuvered into an exposed position in order to set up a defensive perimeter and to direct his men to meet the threat. 

Bob led an aggressive assault on the enemy. During the attack, one of the North Vietnamese soldiers detonated a mine, sending shrapnel into everyone nearby and seriously wounding Bob and another soldier. Bob physically picked up the soldier and moved him to a safer location where he could receive medical attention. Although he was also seriously wounded, Bob declined medical attention to help the rest of his platoon. Eventually, they were able to rout the enemy force. 

For his heroic actions that fateful day, Bob received a Bronze Star with a Combat “V” for Valor, as well as a Purple Heart for his wounds. During his Vietnam tour, he also earned the Combat Infantry Badge, received a second Purple Heart when he was shot again by an enemy soldier, and earned an Army Commendation Medal. 

SCI’s Semper Gratis Award honored Bob’s military service, as well as his commitment to the RMEF, conservation and hunting. As part of the award, he will enjoy a trip fishing for halibut and salmon in southeast Alaska. Well done!

Jim Morrell
Former Oregon State Chair

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Call to Action: Protect Hunting and Conservation in Michigan

(Note: The Michigan Senate voted 28-10 in favor on Wednesday afternoon. The House could take up the issue on August 27.)

RMEF Members:

Michigan lawmakers are scheduled to vote on the Scientific Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act today (Wednesday 8/13) to retain the state’s power to allow wolf hunts. If passed, the new law would override two referendums on the November ballot backed by anti-hunting groups that would overturn the hunt. 

The Act ensures that decisions affecting the taking of fish and game are made using principles of sound scientific fish and wildlife management. It provides for free hunting, fishing and trapping licenses for active members of the military. It also provides appropriations for fisheries management activities within Michigan necessary for rapid response, prevention, control and/or elimination of aquatic invasive species, including Asian carp.

The Humane Society of the United States reportedly spent nearly $1.1 million in efforts seeking to ban science-based wolf hunting as a management tool. 

Call your state Senator to urge them to vote in favor of this Act. Go HERE to find your Senator.

RMEF previously worked closely with various hunter-conservationist partners in Michigan via the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management to obtain more than 374,000 signatures in support of conservation, management and hunting. 

Thank you for supporting this worthy effort.

David Allen
RMEF President/CEO

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

RMEF Joins Fight against Threat to Use of Traditional Ammunition

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is one of 33 national sportsmen’s conservation organizations that sent a letter (see below) to the Department of the Interior in response to a petition from several anti-hunting organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States, seeking to ban the use of traditional ammunition on much of the nation’s public lands.

July 23, 2014

The Honorable Sally Jewell
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

RE: HSUS Petition to Ban the Use of Lead Ammunition

Dear Secretary Jewell:

The undersigned national sportsmen’s conservation, natural resource professional organizations and association for the hunting and shooting sports industry write to you in regard to a petition filed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) along with 16 other organizations and individuals requesting that the Department of the Interior (DOI) promulgate a rule to ban the use of traditional ammunition made with lead components and require that only alternative ammunition made with metals be permitted for use on lands managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

Before addressing the merits - or lack thereof - of the petition, it is important to note that the principal petitioner, HSUS, is an avowed anti-hunting organization (as are a number of the co-petitioners), and one of its primary goals is to shut down all hunting. HSUS has said “We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States. We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state.” HSUS has led numerous state and national initiatives in furtherance of achieving that goal, and this petition is simply another tactic unto that end. The petitioners suggest that hunting is acceptable as long as hunters use alternative ammunition, but the undersigned organizations reject this specious representation and encourage you to do likewise.

The issue at hand is not whether lead, when ingested in a sufficient quantity and metabolized by an animal can be injurious to that particular animal, but, instead, what is the population-based impact to a species at a local or regional level. Indeed, state fish and wildlife agencies have applied that very test in determining if, and when, special regulations regarding traditional ammunition are needed to address population-level impacts and taken management action as appropriate.

One of the seven tenets of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is that the best science available will be used as a basis for informed decision making in wildlife management rather than by opinion or conjecture, or as in this case, false inference. The body of scientific literature on the use of traditional ammunition does not support the petitioners' underlying conclusion that the past and continued use of traditional ammunition has resulted in negative wildlife population level effects. The 50-page petition is littered with pseudo-scientific statements that attempt, but fail, to link potential lead toxicity, from any number of possible sources, to federal statutory obligations to protect wildlife. In addition, this false line of reasoning is also true of the petitioners' claim regarding the threat to public health. There has never been a single documented case in the United States of a hunter having elevated blood lead levels, let alone blood lead poisoning, caused by consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition.

The signatories also note that if such a ban was instituted, additional petitions for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands and other federal holdings (e.g., National Forests) would likely follow. We also contend that additional bans, regarding traditional ammunition, will be sought for recreational target shooting on a broad suite of federal land holdings, including those noted in this letter. This is a traditional and historic use allowed on millions of acres of public lands. Alternative ammunition is more expensive for hunters - and there are not alternatives available for about half the hunting calibers. But, for target shooters, who consume far more ammunition in pursuit of their sport, the cost would be prohibitively expensive. The cost would effectively close public lands to shooters.

The importance of recreational shooting to the American System of Conservation Funding (see attachment) cannot be overstated. Approximately seventy percent of ammunition sold in the United States is for non-hunting purposes, much of it for target shooting. And traditional ammunition accounts for ninety five percent of all ammunition sold.

In addition, the signatories support the following principles that are relevant to this petition as agreed upon by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in a resolution adopted September 29, 2010:
  • Future regulation of lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle is best addressed by the individual states, rather than federal agencies.
  • Decisions related to future regulation of lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle should be based on the best available science related to wildlife population health.
  • State agencies should focus regulation efforts where population-level impacts to wildlife are substantiated.
  • State fish and wildlife agencies should lead efforts to develop the best science, and AFWA should provide this information to members for their use in bringing hunters, anglers and various interests together to determine the need for and nature of any needed management approaches to use of lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle.

In conclusion, there are no adverse wildlife population impacts or public health concerns on NPS and FWS lands that require such an unwarranted, national intervention as this petition seeks. It is quite simply an attempt to drive hunters, and subsequently recreational target shooters, off of Federal public lands. It is unnecessary, has no basis in sound science and should be rejected by the Department.


Archery Trade Association
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Boone and Crockett Club
Bowhunting Preservation Alliance
Catch-A-Dream Foundation
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Conservation Force
Dallas Safari Club
Delta Waterfowl Foundation
Ducks Unlimited
International Hunter Education Association-USA
Masters of Foxhounds Association
Mule Deer Foundation
National Rifle Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Trappers Association
National Wild Turkey Federation
Pheasants Forever
Pope and Young Club
Public Lands Foundation
Quail Forever
Quality Deer Management Association
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Ruffed Grouse Society
Safari Club International
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Tread Lightly!
U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance
Whitetails Unlimited
Wild Sheep Foundation
Wildlife Forever
Wildlife Management Institute
Wildlife Mississippi

Monday, July 21, 2014

Making a $45,000 Difference for Conservation

One person can make a difference. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation members, volunteers, donors, sponsors, partners, staffers and other supporters make a difference for elk and elk country every day. And when it comes to furthering RMEF’s mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage, one person can make a $45,000 difference!

Here’s the deal. Our friends at Nationwide Insurance came up with the idea of a voting competition for its outdoor lovers to choose the conservation effort he or she is most passionate about. The winner receives $45,000. We think we represent a pretty good case. Here’s our pitch: 

Celebrating its 30th year of ensuring the future of elk, elk country and our hunting heritage, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation conducted nearly 9,000 projects to date, enhancing or protecting more than 6.4 million acres of habitat. Along the way, RMEF also opened or secured public access to 713,000 acres for hunters and others to enjoy. In addition, RMEF helped restore elk to their native range in six states and helped protect winter and summer ranges, migration corridors, calving grounds and other crucial areas for wildlife.

The competition begins on Monday, July 21, and runs through October 13. You can vote one time each day. You can also check the daily standings to see how RMEF stacks up against the competition. 

Go HERE and click on the RMEF logo to cast your vote for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and, as always, thank you for your continuing support!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Support the Conservation Easement Incentive Act

To RMEF Members,

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation considers the Conservation Easement Incentive Act (H.R. 2807) of vital importance for conservation, elk and elk country. It is scheduled to come to the House floor for a vote this week as part of a larger charities package.

First passed in 2006, the easement tax incentive has since led to the conservation of roughly one million acres per year by the nation’s 1,700 community-based land trusts including RMEF. 

  • Through a limited tax deduction, landowners are able to place their most prized assets – historical sites, forests, family farms and ranches – in protected easements to ensure a legacy of natural abundance, enjoyment and agricultural production for future generations.
  • Land placed in easements can be farmed, grazed, hunted or used for recreation and the conservation of natural resources. It can also be passed on to heirs or sold but the land is kept safe from future development.
  • Valuable open spaces or farmland can be protected by an easement for a fraction of the cost of buying it, making easements by far the most cost-effective approach to land conservation. For example, federal acquisition of land costs taxpayers roughly $12,000 an acre compared to just $400 an acre for an easement.
  • The enhanced incentive expired last year, and conservation easement enrollments are expected to plunge by at least 300,000 acres per year, or roughly one-third.

This program expired several times since its first passage. This vote provides the opportunity to make it permanent. You can reach your representative by calling the House switchboard at 202-225-3121. 

View a text of the bill here

Making the enhanced incentive permanent is about ensuring a legacy. Please call your representatives to ask them to support this worthy legislation. Thank you for your consideration.

David Allen
RMEF President/CEO