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

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Gadgets, Gizmos, Goodies and Guns Galore

No doubt about it, walking the 12.5 miles of aisles that cover the equivalent of 11 football fields of floor space at SHOT Show can be a little overwhelming. Okay, a lot overwhelming! Chances are most of you haven’t attended SHOT Show since it is solely for professionals in the outdoor industry and the 2,500 media members trying to get the scoop on the latest, greatest hunting or other outdoor-related product. To put it in perspective, imagine hitting Walmart on Black Friday with more than 60,000 other people. Yeah, it’s kind of a controlled madhouse of sorts.

RMEF President/CEO David Allen
speaks at seminar
For the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, it’s a unique opportunity to maintain and strengthen current relationships with sponsors and partners while also seeking to expand our visibility, influence, and form ties with new RMEF backers. That is why the 13 RMEF staffers who made the trip take part in more than 75 face-to-face, practically non-stop meetings over four straight days. Yep, 96 hours of glad-handing meets-and-greets. There are also numerous workshops, news conferences, forums, awards shows, industry gatherings, and working breakfasts, luncheons and dinners sprinkled throughout the schedule.

Back to the exhibit floor where there is no possible way to adequately describe what the more than 6,100 exhibitors want attendees from all 50 states and more than 100 different countries to see. Sure, the photos interspersed throughout this blog post offer somewhat of an idea but it comes down to the old cliché, “Seeing is believing.” Or maybe we should say, “Believe it or not!” 

From a camo Camaro to a 6x6 hunter-orange-elk-antlered chopper to a combination ATV/generator/lawn mower, there are gadgets, gizmos and outdoor goodies galore. And don’t forget about the guns—racks and racks of them—handguns, big game rifles, shotguns, airsoft guns. You name it, it’s here! And then there are boots, apparel, knives, bows, arrows, and anything and everything you’d expect to find on a hunter, hiker or outdoor lover. Everybody, including our friends at Outdoor Channel, has their own take on the newest and wildest products out there. 

If you are into outdoor television shows, the gang’s all here too. That is, everyone from Brandon BatesLee and Tiffany, and Kristy Titus of RMEF Team Elk to Ted Nugent, Randy Newberg, Jim Zumbo, Joe Mantegna and scores of others. In fact, there are so many TV personalities walking the floor that they too are bumping into each other.

SHOT Show truly is sensory overload, but who’s complaining? Not us.

Strangest "critter" seen at SHOT Show

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

RMEF Board Member Zumbo Honored with Communicator Award

Jim Zumbo
Jim Zumbo is not one to get nervous. Not while putting the crosshairs on a bull elk. Not while stalking a deer. Not while hosting veterans and wounded warriors during one of his many hunts. And not while standing in front of cameras manned by members the media. However, standing in front of the annual State of the Industry dinner at SHOT Show in Las Vegas before thousands of members of the outdoor industry, it was a completely different story. 

Zumbo, a board member and long-time member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, acknowledged his nerves while accepting the prestigious Grits Gresham Shooting Sports Communicator Award presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Professional Outdoor Media Association. The honor recognizes extraordinary achievements in communications and in support of our hunting heritage and firearm freedoms.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I’d be the recipient of the Grits Gresham Award,” Zumbo said. “I was shocked and totally overwhelmed when I learned the news. Part of my exhilaration comes not only from the fact that this is my beloved industry supporting me, but because Grits Gresham was my hero. I loved being around him, listening to his tales and enjoying his modesty and down-home southern personality. My profound thanks to everyone who made this possible. Now I need to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming.”

Zumbo is perhaps the most recognizable hunter in North America. A 40-year veteran outdoor writer with more than 2,000 articles and 3,000 photos published, he dedicated his life to supporting and defending hunting, and describing ways for people to become better hunters in his books, lectures, magazine articles, and television show Jim Zumbo Outdoors on Outdoor Channel.

He travels 250 days a year with rifle, shotgun, and fishing rod, collecting content, photos and great stories. Zumbo also is deeply involved in working with wounded veterans, getting them outdoors and recharging their lives. Their experiences are highlighted on Outdoor Channel with the Jim Zumbo Outdoors: Wounded Warriors series. Much of his career was spent as a contributor and editor for Outdoor Life magazine.

To honor his friend Grits Gresham and his famous mantra of “May there be a bass under all your lily pads,” Zumbo closed his acceptance comments with a slight variation: “May there always be a buck under your tree stand.”

Grits Gresham was an internationally-known sportsman, author, photographer and television personality who championed the cause of conservation. He hosted ABC's The American Sportsman  for 13 years. Millions got a glimpse of his pleasant personality and witty ways during a series of beer commercials in the 1970s (see below).

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

RMEF Volunteer Honored for Conservation Work, Issues Call to Action

Kati McCrae
Open Country Award Recipient
Kati McCrae is a doer. Just ask anyone that knows her. And now, because of her get ‘er done attitude, she is a recipient of the individual award at the inaugural Outdoor Life Open Country Awards. She accepted the honor before a packed room at the 2014 SHOT Show in Las Vegas.

McCrae joined the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in 2003. Since then, she served on numerous committees around her home state, including as Oregon mission team leader, inspiring many along the way. She also accelerated a localized conservation movement of sorts. Six years ago, McCrae was the catalyst behind the execution of one volunteer conservation project a year. In 2013, she organized 12 different projects. Referring to her ability to organize projects, a fellow volunteer said with McCrae calling the shots, “It will be done and it will be fun.”

McCrae continues to forge ahead while juggling the challenge of attending class at Oregon State University and despite dealing with some health issues. She was diagnosed with Lyme disease but said, “I still plan on making a difference and giving people the opportunities to create and maintain wildlife habitat for us and future generations. Something I have the utmost passion and respect for is public lands, wildlife, public access, hunting and conservation. Being with the RMEF has been an amazing opportunity.”

RMEF President/CEO David Allen
RMEF President/CEO David Allen thanked McCrae for her dedication to conservation. In doing so, he highlighted two RMEF projects that opened and/or secured access to more than 30,000 acres. One of them, the Red Hill project in central Montana, was a 40-acre purchase that secured access to 18,000 acres of Forest Service land for hunters, hikers and others to enjoy. The other, completed one day before the end of 2013, was a cooperative effort in the John Day Headwaters with an Oregon family business that opened access to 13,000 acres of land. It also secured public access to thousands of acres of existing public land. 

McCrae & Outdoor Life Editor
Andrew McKean
As a standout volunteer, McCrae knows the first-hand challenges of cracking the whip. She had to personally cancel six projects because of a lack of participation. McCrae pointed out that even though there are millions of outdoorsmen and women, only a small percentage are on the ground actively working to maintain and improve conservation. She issued a call to action to try to change that.

“Volunteers do make the difference so start the conversation,” said McCrae. “Talk to your neighbors. Talk to your friends. Talk to your family members and contact an agency near you that manages public lands and start creating projects. Get the word out to volunteers and give people the opportunity we need to get out and make a difference.”

Is that a get ‘er done attitude or what?

(The Michigan Department of Natural Resources received the State Agency Award and Tread Lightly received the Non-profit Award. The Open Country Awards are presented by Yamaha and the Rocky Mountain  Elk Foundation.)

Friday, January 10, 2014

SHOT Show, the BIGGEST Show on Earth

Like a massive elk herd migrating to its winter grounds, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will join exhibitors from across the country and around the world January 14-17, 2014, in Las Vegas for the 36th annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, more popularly known as SHOT Show

One word sums up SHOT Show: BIG! How big is it? Hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), it’s the largest trade show of its kind in the world. More than 60,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and more than 100 countries around the globe will attend the trade-only-not-open-to-the-public gathering to check out the latest, greatest gadgets and products from some 1,600 exhibitors used by target shooters, hunters, outdoorsmen and women and law enforcement professionals.

The one tidbit of vital knowledge SHOT Show veterans share with trade show newcomers is simply this: “Make sure you wear the most comfortable pair of shoes you own.” Why? Again, because SHOT Show is BIG! Exhibit space covers more than 63,000 square feet. That’s comparable to about 11 football fields or roughly equivalent in size to the New Orleans Superdome. Yeah, BIG! If you want to wax poetic, the exhibit floor covers “12 and a half miles of aisles.” The floor plan covers two massive levels (five if you count press and meeting rooms, the International Trade Center and educational rooms, and a massive ballroom that hosts the State of the Industry dinner). If you wanted to visit each and every exhibitor over the show’s three days, you’d only have a mere 22 seconds to visit each booth. That’s why you need the shoes. 

As for the overall product selection, it’s BIG! While it’s impossible to list everything, here’s one sentence from a SHOT Show news release: 
Manufacturers and distributors display a wide range of products, including firearms, ammunition, gun safes, safety locks and cases, optics, shooting range equipment, targets, training and safety equipment, hunting accessories, law enforcement equipment, hearing and eye protection, tree stands, scents and lures, cutlery, GPS systems, holsters, apparel, leather goods, game calls and decoys.

"The variety of new and existing products that will be on display at the SHOT Show reflects the tremendous interest in the shooting sports by Americans from all walks of life--across all income levels, including men and women, adults and youth and those from rural communities to urban areas," said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti. "This growing interest demonstrates that despite continued challenges to our industry and our sports, our hunting and recreational shooting traditions are here to stay. And we will do everything possible to protect those freedoms and the way of life that we cherish."

When you talk about the economic impact of SHOT Show and the outdoor industry, you’re talking some BIG, BIG numbers. Firearms and ammo are a $6 billion industry with an economic impact of $38 billion that directly supports more than 245,000 jobs nationwide. SHOT Show itself is the fifth largest trade show in Las Vegas and the 16th largest in the entire United States. In 2013 alone, SHOT Show pumped more than $73.1 million into the Vegas economy. 

And the media turnout? It’s BIG too. Approximately 2,500 media members received credentials. The first day of SHOT Show is Media Day at the Range. NSSF takes over a large outdoor shooting range where media members can handle, test and learn about the new products. Yeah, that would be one rough assignment.

So why does the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation attend? SHOT Show provides RMEF a unique, and dare we say BIG, opportunity to meet ace-to-face with sponsors, supporters, media members and organizations, and other group and company representatives from across the wide geographical spectrum of the outdoor industry in one location. In fact, RMEF staffers basically have non-stop, sit-down meetings beginning Tuesday morning at 7:30 and continuing through mid to late Friday afternoon. If you’re keeping track, and we are, that’s approximately 75 different meetings! And that does not include the many news conferences, receptions, award shows, and breakfast, lunch and dinner dates that stretch from sun-up until sundown. It is a BIG opportunity for RMEF to seek out and solidify relationships with partners who support our mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

The popular saying goes “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” but what RMEF makes happen in Vegas at SHOT Show will have BIG, positive ramifications for elk and elk country for 2014 and beyond.

It’s a good thing we’ll have our comfortable walking shoes with us.