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

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.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Giving Thanks for Our Veterans

Dear RMEF Family,

Some 21.5 million veterans live among us in America, and one of them is my dad. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy, as did his brother and many of his friends, so honoring those who’ve served our country has always been top-of-mind for me.

I’m sure that’s true for most of you, too.

Veterans Day, November 11 but observed this year on November 12, is merely an opportunity to formalize the gratitude that we feel and express so often throughout the year.

Simply stated, we can never thank our veterans enough.

All that we enjoy as citizens is the result of servicemen and women protecting our way of life. And all the good work that we do at RMEF is an extension of those freedoms. As individuals and as an organization, we’re so very appreciative. I’m delighted that so many RMEF volunteers and partners are active in veterans' hunts, outings, ceremonies and other ways to give something back to those returning from recent service.

So, to my dad and millions more like him who served or continue to serve, please know that you’re in our hearts today and every day.


David Allen
President and CEO

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Voters Speak Loudly, Approve Constitutional Right to Hunt

Call it a mandate! Voters in Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wyoming overwhelmingly approved initiatives to make hunting a constitutional right. They join 13 other states that previously amended their constitutions to protect hunting and fishing.

In Idaho, with 83 percent of the vote counted early Wednesday, the measure had approval from 74 percent of voters. In Kentucky, 83 percent of voters expressed approval. It was 3-to-1 in favor in Nebraska while Wyoming voters delivered a similarly high margin of victory. Idaho, Nebraska and Wyoming constitutions also now protect trapping too.

Senator Lee Heider drafted the Idaho amendment. He says it will protect the hunting, fishing and trapping heritage from future attempts to erode Idaho’s wildlife management laws and against steady pressure from animal rights groups.

Scott Smathers heads up the Nebraska Sportsmen's Foundation. He told Omaha.com he was relieved and excited that Nebraskans recognized the importance of the amendment.

“I voted ‘yes’ to hunting because I believe there are wildlife hazards. I’ve almost hit several deer just in the past week and I know that some people make part of their livelihood that way,” 22-year-old Rachel Yanko, a full-time student and registered Democrat in Kentucky, told the Courier-Journal.

“Wildlife can be managed if they let the people manage it who know how,” said Clayton Lewis, a 75-year-old retiree in Kentucky.

The 13 states that already have a right to hunt amendment in their constitutions are Alabama (1996), Arkansas (2010), Georgia (2006), Louisiana (2004), Minnesota (1998), Montana (2004), North Dakota (2000), Oklahoma (2008), South Carolina (2010), Tennessee (2010), Vermont (1777), Virginia (2000), and Wisconsin (2003). Alaska’s constitution already contains this language: “Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish, wildlife, and waters are reserved to the people for common use.”

Mississippi referred a similar amendment to the 2014 ballot.