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

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fishing, Kids, Fun and the RMEF

“It was slimy and had little red spots on it.” That’s what four-year-old Baylor Creswell said after he pulled his trout from the Oconaluftee River. Baylor and about 1,500 other kids descended on Cherokee, North Carolina, for the annual Talking Trees Trout Derby.

The two-day, free family event is for children age 3-11. Activities also include fly-tying exhibitions, fish-cleaning stations, wildlife and fisheries exhibits, food, music and prizes. And that’s exactly why the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation returns year after year to help out.

In fact, this past August marked the tenth year members of the RMEF Great Smoky Mountains Chapter stepped up to volunteer as a sponsor of the event. In addition to providing $2,000 in funding so each child went home with a fishing pole, 19 RMEF volunteers also blew up balloons gave out temporary elk tattoos, helped kids fish in the river and provided elk booklets for children and Bugle magazines for adults.

Elk do have a history in this part of the country. Elk historically roamed the southern Appalachian Mountains centuries ago but were eliminated due to overhunting and the loss of habitat. However, with support of both RMEF and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, elk were reintroduced into the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2001. Elk are frequently seen along the Oconaluftee River and in the Cherokee area. The current elk population in western North Carolina is believed to be about 140 animals, counting elk both inside and outside of park boundaries.
Back on the river Baylor looked to land more fish. He’s such a determined young angler that he said he’d return to catch 190 fish next year. (Psst Baylor, the limit is only five.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Unusual and Not So Unusual Gifts for the Hunter

We all know the old saying “Tis better to give than to receive,” but give what? Well, let’s run down some holiday gift suggestions.

First, we toe the company line. If you want to give the gift of conservation, elk, and elk hunting, there’s no better way to do so than to give someone a membership to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Ninety percent of all membership fees go toward furthering the RMEF mission to enhance the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. The membership level is up to you:

$35 Annual Supporting Membership
$75 Annual Family Membership
$100 Annual Sustaining Membership
$300 Annual Sponsor Membership
$1,500 Life Membership

Whichever membership you choose, the recipient will get a minimum of six bi-monthly issues of the popular Bugle magazine. And if you join right now and use the promo code FHATCH12, the recipient also receives a Browning hatchet and knife set (aka excellent stocking stuffers).

If you want to take a step beyond that, check out the Elk Country Trading Post for more traditional gifts like shirts, hats, books or other gifts such as the 2013 RMEF elk calendar. You could also surprise a loved one with a winter getaway to Las Vegas for Elk Camp 2013.
A Google search quickly pulls up a wide variety of possibilities for the sportsman, the sportswoman, and even the sportskid. For the religiously inclined, there’s what’s called the Holy Shed, a unique replica of a non-typical buck said to have headgear that looked like a cross. It’s 13 inches tall by 17 inches wide and will “add a divine touch to your home's d├ęcor.”

If you’re into giving camo, the sky is the limit. It seems just about everything out there has a camo option to it—from bathing towels to men’s swim trunks to a complete green camo baby gift set to what you need to outfit an entire hunter orange and camo and wedding party.

What about holiday decorations for that military friend or family member? There’s a selection of tactical stockings complete with carabiners and pockets or slots for other military-related gizmos.

If you want to go with smaller, more intimate gifts, what about double deer love earrings, a simple elk calf key chain, or maybe a white-tailed buck bobblehead?

However, if money is no object, you could dig deep into that bank account and pony up $75,000 for a Neiman Marcus luxury yurt.

Measuring 18-feet in diameter and featuring a lavish interior, it’s (sort of) like camping in your rich uncle’s house. Luxurious accessories include pillows, a sofa, flower vases, candles and a crystal chandelier designed with glamour colors to accentuate colors of the season. (At least, that’s what the description states.)

Whatever your taste and whatever your budget, your friends at RMEF wish to thank you for your continuing support and wish you the best as you celebrate the joy of the Christmas season with family and loved ones.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Wounded Warriors Treated to Stress-Free Alaska Hunt

When you’re in a combat zone, you must be fully prepared, fully outfitted and at full attention to survive the realities of war and successfully carry out your mission. Staff Sergeant Patrick Zeigler knows that all too well. He survived two tours in Iraq where many of his close friends didn’t. But imagine having “war” break out on your home base. That’s exactly what happened when Major Malik Nadal went on a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. When it was over, 13 soldiers were dead and more than two dozen more were wounded, including Zeigler.  

Three years later and eight brain surgeries later, the seven-year military vet found himself thousands of miles from home. Zeigler joined many fellow combat wounded and weary veterans for the second annual hunt for Alaska’s Healing Hearts. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, along with other sponsors, stepped up to assist by providing outdoor gear, tree stands, tree harnesses, bear baiting supplies and other items needed for the hunt. The goal for the soldiers was to try to harvest bear on the rugged Alaska landscape near the small towns of Sutton and Willow.

“It’s great. We set up real nice on a ridge overlooking a whole basin area,” Zeigler told the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. “The scenery is probably the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in America.”

The outing was not just a “boys’ night out” hunt either. It was also for their families. Additional activities included ATV riding, games, canoeing and horseback riding--all designed to take place in a stress-free environment. Celebrities like Aaron Tippin, Chub Eastman and Jim Zumbo attended camp to provide cooking, cleaning, and fellowship.

Jim Zumbo (left), Jessica & Patrick Zeigler (right)

As Zeigler looks to the future, he is not alone. His wife Jessica remains at his side. While engaged, she rushed to his Fort Hood hospital bed and never left. A year and a half later, they married.

Patrick & Jessica (Frontiersman)

“I think she’s the most incredible person I’ve ever met in my life,” he told the Frontiersman. “To drop everything and be by my side like that. I can never pay her back. All I can do is love her.”

And that love will only grow because the Zeiglers are now new parents to a bouncing baby boy.

Here’s to you Staff Sgt. Zeigler, and to Jessica too! Thanks for your continuing service and sacrifice for our country.

Patrick, Jim Zumbo and others with Patrick's bear recently taken in North Carolina

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nevada ROTC Students “On Target” Thanks to RMEF Grant

Hug High ROTC Rifle Team
“This is excellent. This will be a good source of money for our team. It will definitely come in handy, because right now we’re using old equipment. This will help us replace some of the old stuff.”

That’s what Major Michael J. Blackburn told the Daily Sparks Tribune after the Hug High School ROTC rifle team of Reno, Nevada, received a $10,000 endowment grant from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the MidwayUSA Foundation. The bottom line is the endowment will generate $500 a year in perpetuity. That means from here on out, the team can use the money to purchase the ammunition and other supplies it needs for its shooting program.

RMEF staff and volunteers nominate high school, college and university shooting teams to receive the endowments, which are generated from RMEF chapter fundraisers and through a donation from the MidwayUSA Foundation. Recipients are determined four times a year.

Twenty students are expected to try out this year for the Hug High ROTC rifle squad, twelve of which will make the final cut. They will represent the group at competitions with other area ROTC and scholastic shooting programs.

“We’re a growing team,” Blackburn said. “With this help from Midway USA and RMEF, we might have a real shot this year.”

Good luck shooters. Keep your eye on the prize. And a special thanks to our partners at MidwayUSA for outfitting our youth for the future.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oregon Elk Get the “All Clear” Thanks to RMEF Volunteers

One of Oregon’s finest elk herds will be able to better navigate the mountains in the northeast part of the state thanks to 16 volunteers of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Fourteen adults and two children braved 100 degree temperatures this past summer to help improve 1,350 acres of private land winter range in the Starkey Wildlife Management Unit near the Grande Ronde River.

Members of the RMEF La Grande and Pendleton Chapters helped remove and rebuild half a mile of fencing on the Wapiti Ranch, a working cattle ranch about 12 miles west of LaGrande. Workers replaced the woven wire fence with 3-strand wildlife-friendly fencing to reduce wildlife entanglement and improve wildlife migration and passage. The ranch is critical winter range habitat for approximately 500 elk and other species but it’s also a key calving ground.

The landowner worked closely with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Forestry, Natural Resource Conservation Service and the RMEF over the years to implement forest health and wildlife habitat improvement projects.

"The continued success of the Elk Foundation can be attributed to our relentless pursuit of partnership, and this project is no exception,” said Chad Klinkenborg, RMEF north Oregon regional director. “By working together with a private landowner and a state agency we were able to get the right thing done for wildlife."

Monday, December 3, 2012

David Allen Issues Letter on Yellowstone Park Wolves

David Allen

Robert Ream, Chairman
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission
Helena, MT

Dear Mr. Ream,

We understand that Defenders of Wildlife and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) are currently running a campaign against Montana FWP for allowing hunting and trapping of wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park (YNP). As you know, these hunts are legal, necessary and scientifically sustainable. There is absolutely no science or rationale to support these groups belief that a special "no hunt" zone should be created outside of YNP. Further, we are not aware of any science or rationale to support the attempts of Defenders, GYC and other groups to create a distinction between "Yellowstone wolves" and wolves that exist within the tri-state region of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

The attempt to establish a “buffer zone” for YNP wolves is in direct contrast to the original goal for the wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rocky Mountains (NRM). Never at any time was it planned that "Yellowstone wolves" would be granted amnesty from management once outside of YNP. This is a time when Defenders, GYC and others should be celebrating a successful recovery of the wolf population. However, it seems that there is no such satisfaction. Will there ever be? A substantial number of wolves throughout the three states have come from YNP. Are they to be given special protection status as well? Additionally, hundreds of animals including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, mountain lions and others are fitted with radio collars for scientific purposes and roam the wilds in and around YNP, but they are not excluded from hunting seasons outside the park. When harvested, the collars are returned to the management agency and the data is utilized. We urge all hunters to return collars to wildlife agencies.

During the recent lawsuits over delisting wolves in the NRM, Defenders, GYC and others strongly proclaimed that borders between states did not matter when considering wolf populations and wolf management. They claimed this so they could keep Montana, Idaho and Wyoming all tied together in the lawsuit. We were all told "an imaginary or arbitrary border or line had no distinction when considering wolf populations.” Now, all of sudden, the YNP border is relevant and any wolf close to it but outside of the park should be protected. It is obvious that Defenders, GYC and others simply wish to continue to protest state-based management of wolves, thus keeping a "wolf controversy alive" for the express purpose of soliciting for more donations.

The reality is Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are each required to manage wolves within a specific set of mandates. If those mandates are not adhered to, then the states run the risk of losing management control and having their wolf population placed back on the Endangered Species List. As it stands today, wolf numbers continue to be well above objective and in need of reduction. Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are not close to risking the greater wolf population of the NRM being relisted under the ESA, and that should be the common goal for all of us.

Those who protest the harvesting of the Yellowstone area wolves seem to gloss over the fact that the primary reason wolves are leaving Yellowstone is for prey. The substantial reduction of the northern Yellowstone elk herd requires these wolves to travel farther for prey. We sincerely wish that those who claim to "defend wildlife" felt some empathy for the thousands of elk that have been lost from the northern Yellowstone elk herd, not to mention the related economic losses. We continue to hear the cry for different science from these special interest groups. We submit that the real science is at work now through state-based management and these groups need to get on board and support it. We have wasted enough taxpayer time and money chasing special interest ideology.

We urge you not to alter or reduce the ability to continue the legal and ethical management, including hunting and trapping, of wolves surrounding the Yellowstone National Park border. Further, we urge our members to communicate their position on this important issue with you.

Thank you for your consideration.


David Allen

Thursday, November 29, 2012

RMEF CEO David Allen Urges Hunters to Take Action on Sportsmen’s Act

David Allen
To RMEF Members,

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation considers the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 to be of vital importance for conservation, wildlife, and sportsmen and women. We are asking all of our members to consider supporting it by immediately calling your U.S. Senator. This bill is good for ALL sportsmen and for wildlife conservation. The Senators who voted against this bill are not thinking about wildlife and sportsmen and women. We need them to support this bill NOW.

Again, please consider calling your Senator to ask them to support this good bill. Thank you for your consideration.

David Allen
RMEF President/CEO

Despite overwhelming support by Democrats and Republicans, Senators who previously backed the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525) used an earlier procedural vote this week to scrap it. The proposal is a collection of 17 bills that offer many beneficial things for conservation, fishing, hunting, and sportsmen and women. Here are some of its highlights:

-It earmarks a percentage of offshore oil and gas drilling revenue to purchase improved access for up to 35 million acres of public land that has limited access.

-It channels more of the excise-tax funds that hunters currently pay on guns and ammunition to public shooting ranges across the U.S.

-It brings the federal Duck Stamp into the modern age by allowing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to sell them electronically and bump up the price from $10 to $25 to fund critical wetland and duck habitat.

Some Senators cited financial concerns as a reason to table the proposal; however the Congressional Budget Office estimates enacting the Sportsmen’s Act would actually reduce the deficit by $5 million over the next ten years. Suffice it to say that this bill does not add to the national debt and it provides substantial benefit to wildlife. It seems that this what good legislation should do.

Go here for a full view of S. 3525.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hollywood Keeps Fanning the Flames of the Archery Craze

Revolution (NBC)

Brave (2012)
I split my TV viewing time the other night between a prime-time network show and a DVD. Both had the same theme of bow-toting heroines in their determined quest of good over evil. In the movie Brave, the flaming redheaded princess Merida gallops through the Scottish forest on board her trusty mount Angus with bow in hand, striking the bullseye of every suspended target. In Revolution, Charlie and Miles use their crossbows and swords to rescue family members held prisoner by the militia. These are just two examples of Hollywood’s recent and continuing obsession with archery and bowhunting.

Hunger Games (2012)
The trigger behind the targeted trend is the 2012 mega-smash Hunger Games. A young girl, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, uses her bow to acquire game and survive a televised battle to the death in a broken nation. That movie is the first in a trilogy with additional releases planned in the coming years. (In fact, filming of the second installment, Catching Fire, is currently underway in Hawaii.)

Catching Fire (Nov. 2013)
Actress Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Everdeen, received her archery training from Khatuna Lorig, a member of the U.S. Olympic archery team. Lorig just missed out on a medal in London but the sport itself was a television ratings bonanza. NBC reported archery as its most-watched cable channel sport with an average of 1.5 million daytime viewers.

The carry-over effect remains huge. Archery is now one of the fastest growing sports in the nation among men, women and especially children. And the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation remains one of its most staunch and excited participants. RMEF contributed more than $3.5 million dollars by funding more than 1,900 archery, shooting and other such hunting heritage projects in 49 states. That includes donations to high school and community teams; youth camps and hunter education events; 3D fun shoots; and programs like Becoming an Outdoors Woman, the Junior Olympic Archery Development and National Intercollegiate Archery Championships, and the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP).

RMEF recently helped sponsor one such NASP event in Pennsylvania where the arrows flew and young girls freely expressed their excitement as they learned to shoot like their heroes of the big screen.

“I did archery before, but the movie inspired me to do it more,” 10-year-old Kylie Berkheimer told the Daily Local News of West Chester, Pennsylvania. Kylie saw Hunger Games and also read the books.

“The movie made me want to learn how to shoot a bow,” said eight-year-old Chrissie Christian of Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Chrissie saw Brave, which debuted at number-one at the box office, twice but also other movies with bows and arrows. “I’ve seen Lord of the Rings which also has archery. And Narnia too.”
The Chronicles of Narnia (2004, 2008),  Bow & Arrow (CW), The Lord of the Rings (2001, 02, 03) & The Avengers (2012)
The manager at a retail store in Nevada said the archery comeback led to a big boost in business. Danny Nelson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his range averaged about 30 shooters a week back in January. But since the release of the Hunger Games, his post-Olympics business jumped to about 900 shooters a month.

Scott & his first deer
For many, archery in the fall means stepping out of the shooting range or the gym and into the woods for hunting season. Take young Scott Wolfe in Nebraska, for example. He just used his bow and arrow to take his first whitetail deer. “I had one of the best moments of my life,” he said while posing with his prize. “After this moment I realized I am a true hunter.”

In this day and age it seems the only that thing that would "legitimize," for lack of a better word, this resurgence in the popularity of archery would be a reality TV show. Don’t worry, that’s on the way too. Nock Out is coming to the NBC Sports Network in 2013.

How do you suppose Merida and Katniss would fare in that?

(Mark Holyoak is the director of communication for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.  And yes, he's about to get his first bow to take into the mountains next hunting season.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks for So Many Things

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we enter a new holiday season, the RMEF family can be truly thankful for so many blessings in 2012.

From an organizational standpoint, our membership continues to grow and fuel our important work for conservation. We have the greatest corps of volunteers on the planet. Our partnering companies, organizations and agencies also are keeping our momentum going strong as ever, even in the face of economic challenges.

Four generations in the Huntsman family

Lingo family (Colorado)
Thanksgiving also is a time to remember our personal godsends. To be grateful for good times afield with family and friends. For the fresh elk meat in our freezers. For outdoor traditions passed down like a cherished .30-06 from our fathers and grandfathers.

But we of the RMEF staff are finely attuned to the fact that the business of conservation is inseparable from the passion for hunting. One cannot exist without the other. It’s a powerful symbiosis that nourishes the sporting heritage as well as the future success of wildlife—and it’s a conservation system that’s absolutely unique to our country.

David Allen

The privilege of living in such a place is a blessing that deserves extra thankfulness this holiday season.

Thanks for all you do for hunting and conservation!


David Allen
President and CEO

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

RMEF Volunteers Beat the Heat to Help New Mexico Elk

You’ve got to have water, especially if you live in the sun-scorched Southwest. Several members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's Albuquerque Chapter joined together with others this past summer to make water more available for elk, mule deer and other wildlife.

The volunteers put on their sunscreen, hats, and work gloves and got after it with their shovels, pipe wrenches and other tools to improve the water supply on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Socorro lands about 75 miles south of Albuquerque in New Mexico. RMEF also pitched in $5,500 in grant money for one of the two projects. The goal was to set “wings” on two 3,500 gallon storage tanks, allowing them to gather more water for animals who need a dependable supply.

Volunteers also set new plumbing lines; tied in existing but old lines from a previous tank; installed check valves, a shut-off valve and float bowl with a tire drinker; removed fencing that encompassed four acres; rolled three-strand smooth wire and pulled and stacked posts. 

RMEF partners who stepped up to help included the National Wild Turkey Federation, New Mexico Game and Fish, and the BLM.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sharing Our Hunting Heritage, One 12-Year-Old Girl's Story

Abby & her 4x4 whitetail buck
Just three months ago she turned 12. This fall, she joined her peers to learn ethics and safety at a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) hunter safety education course. She graduated with a perfect score. Shortly thereafter, her father took got her a rifle and took her shooting. Her aim was sure. Her grouping was tight. Abby was ready to hunt. Accompanying her father, she logged miles in the mountains, endured hikes and the Montana cold without the opportunity to raise her rifle. Last Saturday, with her dad by her side and while wearing her FWP issued hunter orange vest, Abby stood with her .243 balanced on a bi-pod and her crosshairs firmly set on a whitetail deer. She was nervous. A few moments later she stood over her first harvested animal—a beauty of a 4x4 buck.

It was just three months ago that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation officially announced the enhancement of its mission to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. The new addition is “hunting heritage.” How do sportsmen and women enhance their hunting heritage? They do what Abby’s father did. They take the next generation hunting. But it’s not just about harvesting an animal. It’s about fresh air, mountain ridges, lakes and rivers, meadows and marshes, tree stands, grassland and shrubbery. It’s about developing an appreciation of wildlife—from small critters to birds of all kinds to big game. It’s about watching the sun rise through the early morning fog and eclipsing the mountaintops at daybreak and watching it sink in the West at dusk.

Enhancing our hunting heritage is also about enhancing relationships. You probably heard the old saying “Take your kids hunting and you won't have to go hunting for your kids.” Do you remember your first hunting trip with your father? Or what about your first time hunting with your mother, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandfather, grandmother or other family member? Do you have a buddy who accompanies you on your hunts? All those relationships only grow stronger with each step as you hike and hunt together, as you stop to rest, as you chat to refine a strategy, as you eat, and as you sit around the campfire together talking about the day’s happenings and reliving past memories.

David & his father, Al

RMEF Life Member Randy Newberg said “The father-son hunting part of it is the real trophy for me. It is kind of simple stuff to build a fire and sleep out under the stars. There is a lot of fun to it. No TV. No faxes. It is true freedom."

That rings oh so true for the Johnson family who took Randy’s words one step further. David Johnson recently accompanied both his father and his son on an elk hunting trip. “We didn't shoot any elk, but we had a fantastic time together in the beautiful Colorado mountains,” David recently posted on the RMEF Facebook page. “Many great memories were made! I sure love those guys!”

Abby, proud papa Seth & their whitetail bucks

And that brings us back to Abby. Despite six hours exposed to that frigid Saturday morning Montana weather with a biting wind chill and temperatures 20 degrees below freezing, she sported a warm smile on her face—a smile of accomplishment, empowerment and perseverance. Believe it or not, that young smile was actually overshadowed by one even brighter. Her father, Seth, beamed with satisfaction and pride.

Good job dad!  Thanks for enhancing your personal family hunting heritage and letting us share in it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Georgia Teenager Thought He’d Die, Makes Dream Hunt a Reality

He couldn’t see. He couldn’t walk. He struggled to breathe. Chip Madren was just 13 years old when he suffered a brain tumor. As he lay in an Atlanta hospital bed that first night, he thought he was going to die. He wished he still had a future. It turns out he did but it included scores of doctors, nurses and treatments, and even greater amounts of perseverance, courage, family, friends, faith and hope. Chip spent six months in a hospital bed. It took him 10 months to learn to talk again. Though legally blind, his eyesight ever so slowly evolved but remains somewhat limited.
Chip’s family found out about the Outdoor Dream Foundation (ODF) which eventually contacted the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Chip now had something, literally, to shoot for.

"Every time it got tough, this was sort of the carrot out there that got us through I don't know how many hours of therapy," Chip’s father Ken told the Newport News Times. "These nice things that are done are powerful fuel. If it's what you like, it's what you live for, and this is what he likes."

Two years after he first entered the hospital, 15 year old Chip, his father and a family friend boarded a plane for the 2,600 mile flight to Oregon. Their destination was the Hogevoll Ranch approximately 130 miles south of Portland. Chip’s visit marked the second time Ben and Debbie Hogevoll opened their 158-acre ranch for an ODF hunt. Much of the ranch is covered by an RMEF conservation easement which permanently protects the land and its habitat, although that habitat only improves day by day thanks to the Hogevoll’s stewardship. 
Hogevall Ranch, OR

RMEF supported such dream hunts the past seven years, including a handful this hunting season alone. Members of the RMEF Lincoln County chapter stepped up to make arrangements, cover expenses, set up an elk camp for their Georgia friends, scheduled cooking assignments, and helped out with the hunt itself. Since Chip could not climb, Ben placed a pallet on his tractor, lifted him off the ground, and then climbed up to join him that foggy morning. Several cows appeared and a 6x6 bull eventually turned broadside. Chip pulled the trigger and his trophy was down. With tears in his eyes, Ken sprinted to the makeshift tree stand from several hundred yards away.

"This is the thing we love to do together, and I had no idea whether or not what we've done together before would happen again," he Told the Newport News Times. "So to have this happen and have it come off successfully is great. It's a pretty regal return to the outdoor realm."

An avid lover of the outdoors, Chip is now back home with his family in Sandy Springs, Georgia. The freezer is full with 225 pounds of Oregon elk meat. The mount will hold a special place on the family wall. His dream hunting trip will always remain a special memory but he’s not looking back. Chip’s next goal is to return to the Georgia woods with his father. And beyond that? Well, he wants to hunt pronghorn antelope.

Chip & his dad

"Everybody wants to know Chip's prognosis," Ken said. "Well, we don't know. Anything could happen. I think he'll walk. How far? I don't know. He's got tremendous determination, and that's been the key. That and prayer."

Atta boy Chip! Thanks for your endurance and your example. And thank you RMEF volunteers for making another dream hunt come true.

(Chip and his family launched Chip's Nation, a non-profit effort to raise money to help other families dealing with devastating children's illnesses.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

RMEF Hits the Fast Lane with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Representatives of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently joined approximately 300 other people to celebrate the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Foundation’s annual “Driven to Give” fundraiser in Mooresville, North Carolina. Dale Jr. took some time away from the race track to oversee festivities in an evening of meet-and-greets and entertainment with country music artist Kellie Pickler to raise money for youth and children in need. RMEF assisted in the effort by making a donation for the silent auction.
Don Blakley (RMEF), Dave Brucken (RMEF), Renee Earnhardt (Dale Jr.'s sister-in-law), Paul O’Connell (RMEF board member), Kellie Pickler, Gary West (RMEF), Howard Holland (RMEF), Dale Jr., Nancy Holland (RMEF), Rob Springer (RMEF board member)

Kerry Earnhardt & Dale Jr.

Dale Earnhardt

Like RMEF, the Earnhardt family, many members of NASCAR, and its legion of fans maintain a strong belief in protecting wildlife habitat and promoting hunting heritage. Dale Earnhardt Sr. loved the outdoors and wildlife. To honor his memory, the RMEF helped create the Dale Earnhardt Wildlife Legacy Program. Its major goals are to protect America’s habitat, create access for sportsmen and women, and inspire tomorrow’s hunters.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Dale Jr. is also an outdoorsman. While he seeks success on the track he also looks to better the world around him. His foundation has a mission dedicated to giving underprivileged individuals with a focus on youth, the resources to improve their confidence and education, and the opportunity to achieve extraordinary goals. It supports more than 300 charities. The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Speedway Children's Charities, and RMEF are among them.

RMEF has a deep and meaningful relationship with the Earnhardt family and NASCAR thanks to David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, who directed marketing and sponsorships for the Dale Earnhardt/Richard Childress race (RCR) teams and other NASCAR teams until Dale’s death in 2001. David has six championship rings as part of the RCR team. (The video below originally aired in May 2009.)

Thanks to Dale Jr. and the entire Earnhardt family for your continued dedication to making things better for our youth, our wildlife, and the RMEF.