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


Monday, October 1, 2012

From Humble Beginnings...

BC Forbes, the Scottish financial journalist who founded Forbes Magazine said "History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats." 

Winston Churchill once said "History is written by the victors."


RMEF Founders (from left to right) Dan Munson, Dan Bull, Bill Munson and Charlie Decker
Those statements ring oh so true for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Founded in 1984, four hunters from northwest Montana –a realtor, a logger, a pastor and a drive-in owner— pooled their time, talents and limited resources to create RMEF, an organization dedicated to elk, elk hunting and the habitat they need to thrive. They set up shop in the back room of a trailer house in Troy and drained their bank accounts to mail out 43,000 brochures soliciting members, promising a subscription to a magazine about elk and elk hunting. Only 233 people responded, but since they already made a commitment, they borrowed additional funds and printed 32,000 copies of the premier issue of Bugle magazine.
Robb Creek, Montana
Their hard work and perseverance paid off. By the end of 1984, membership grew to almost 2,500. In 1985, RMEF held its first convention in Spokane, Washington. The first habitat project took place that same year thanks to a grant funding a prescribed burn in a place, fittingly, named Elk Creek in northwest Montana. RMEF’s first land acquisition was the 16,440 acre Robb Creek property in Montana in 1988. During RMEF’s convention that year, Anheuser-Busch announced a $500,000 gift to RMEF that kick-started incredible growth and conservation achievement.

More than 28 years later, RMEF boasts tremendous success:
·         More than 6.1 million acres of wildlife habitat conserved or enhanced
·         More than 600,000 acres of land secured for public access
·         More than 184,000 members
·         More than 10,000 volunteers
·         More than 500 chapters

From humble beginnings, the RMEF is now one of the most effective and efficient conservation organizations in the United States. Working together with members, volunteers and partners as Team Elk, the RMEF is striving to conserve the next million acres of elk country, and to be a strong voice for hunters, access, and wildlife management and conservation issues.

Below is a video produced by First Montana Bank, an organization that offered RMEF a financial lifeline in the early days.  It features Charlie Decker talking about RMEF's history and his love of elk and the organization he co-founded.

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