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

Monday, November 24, 2014

11th Hour Elk Hunter Uncovers RMEF Logo, Bags First Elk

Superstition +  RMEF = elk hunting success 
"No matter how cold it is outside, some things should never be covered up!" That’s the moral of the elk hunting story for a long-time member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Sixty-two year old Paul Boutiette always hoped for an elk. He wanted the meat for his freezer. He wanted the mount for his wall. He ended up getting both! How he got there included planning, traveling, hard work, some one-man-band ingenuity and a little superstition.

Boutiette traveled approximately 3,000 miles from his home in Massachusetts to hunt elk in Montana. He spent the greater part of a month in Big Sky Country trying to fulfill his quest by filling his elk tag. His timing wasn’t perfect, at least not according to what Old Man Winter delivered. A mid-November Arctic blast sent temperatures plummeting well below zero. 

“The 20 degrees below ice fog put a frost on the rear window of my Trailblazer. I knew no one would believe me as to how cold it was when I went in so I took a cell phone picture of the temperature shown in the truck dashboard,” said Boutiette. “I noticed my weather-worn RMEF logo decal was covered in frost and thought that I should wipe it off for good luck.” 

With the necessities out of the way, Boutiette headed out to hunt. As mid-morning to early-afternoon temperatures soared to a balmy 3 degrees, his success soared as well. Thanks to a 275-yard shot from his .300 Winchester Magnum, Paul had his first elk on the ground. 

“Got him out in one piece from 1/2-mile in, alone, with block and tackle, iron pin and 3 lbs. sledge hammer for uphill. And strap-on poly slide for downhill the next day. But surprisingly I had him out to the truck by 12:45 p.m. and on the game carrier and headed out by 1:30 p.m.,” he added.

Mission accomplished! And just in time too.

“This was the last day of my hunt then I was to pack up and head home,” said Boutiette. “What a way to slide in to home plate!”

Who can argue with that? Then again, maybe the Elk Foundation can take a tiny bit of the credit thanks to Paul’s insight to scrape the ice off his RMEF logo.

“I guess it paid off. I got my first ivories!”

Again, what’s the moral of the story? 

"No matter how cold it is outside, some things should never be covered up!"

We couldn’t agree any more Paul. Congratulations!

Elk Winter Range and Recreational Access for Public Expanded in Montana

Below is a news release from The Conservation Fund announcing the addition of more acreage to a wildlife management area in west-central Montana. RMEF contributed funding to assist with the project.


ANACONDA, Mont. (Nov. 24, 2014) – The Conservation Fund and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) announced today the protection and addition of 640 acres to the Garrity Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) west of Anaconda, Montana. This project was made possible with funding from the Natural Resource Damage Protection Program, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), FWP and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust

The land, which features windswept grassy hillsides, natural ponds and a portion of one of the largest aspen stands in the Upper Clark Fork River basin, provides critical wintering and calving grounds for elk and will provide new public access to the northeastern section of the WMA. 

“We can’t thank the funding partners enough for making this project happen,” said Ray Vinkey, FWP Wildlife Biologist. “And most of all we want to acknowledge the leadership and support of the Anaconda Sportsmen’s Club and residents in the local area who brought this property to our attention and encouraged our efforts from start to finish. This is truly a community achievement.”

The Conservation Fund, a national organization dedicated to creating land and water protection strategies that balance environmental stewardship with economic vitality, purchased the property in March 2014. FWP used funding from the Natural Resource Damage Protection Program, its Habitat Montana Program and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust to acquire the acreage from the Fund on November 17. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation also provided strategic funding to help preserve this priority landscape from future development. 

“Wild and beautiful places like this define our state’s natural character,” said Gates Watson, Montana state director of The Conservation Fund. “We are pleased to assist the state in the protection of this vital habitat for the benefit of both wildlife and people, and we thank the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust for their support.” 

“We are pleased to join with our partners in protecting and conserving this vital habitat for elk and other wildlife,” said Blake Henning, RMEF vice president of lands and conservation. “It's part of RMEF's continuing commitment that included a $100,000 pledge in the past toward much needed noxious weed treatments, fence removal and other habitat work on the WMA.”

The public will be able to access the property from a county road just west of Anaconda. Public use regulations will be consistent with existing rules on the Garrity Mountain WMA, which provide for recreational use including hunting, while simultaneously conserving the natural resources for which the property was purchased.

“The purchase is a valuable addition to the existing Garrity Mountain WMA due to its exceptional winter range and aspen stands,” said Gregory Mullen, environmental specialist with the Montana Department of Justice, Natural Resource Damage Program. “We want to thank the many stakeholders in this effort, including The Conservation Fund, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, and the many Anaconda citizens from various conservation groups who all worked together to bring this very accessible property into public use.”

“This is a great addition to the Garrity Mountain WMA because it provides critical habitat required by our local populations of elk, deer, and moose during the late winter and early spring months,” said Chris Marchion of the Anaconda Sportsmen Club. “This property complements our existing public lands and provides valuable access for outdoor recreation in the summer and fall months. The Club is thankful for the support of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Skyline Sportsmen, Montana Wildlife Federation, and our local county government, as well as the many citizens that spoke in favor of this project.”

Rising from 6,800 to over 8,044 feet in elevation, Garrity Mountain’s grassy hills provide ideal winter foraging habitat for elk, mule deer and big horn sheep, while pockets of timber offer shelter and thermal cover. These scenic wildlife habitats of the now 10,115-acre WMA offer unique recreational experiences for hunting, hiking, bird watching and wildlife viewing. 

A Season of Giving Thanks

Dear RMEF Family, 

As one of my favorite seasons of the year –hunting season– comes to a close, we open the door to another of my favorites—the season of gratitude.

It’s true that we need to be grateful for all of our many blessings all year long but it is nice that we, as a nation, pause together on Thanksgiving to give thanks.

There’s no doubt about it. We certainly are a blessed people and it benefits all of us to reflect a bit and fully recognize that. 

I am thankful for my wife, my two boys, my folks and other relatives, my friends and my vast RMEF family. I am so grateful to be part of this grand conservation effort to ensure the future of elk, elk country and our hunting heritage. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the efforts of RMEF volunteers and members from coast-to-coast. Together, we are leaving a legacy for the majestic animal we love as well as a hunting tradition for our children and grandchildren.

As you gather this Thanksgiving season, pause with me to look around, let it all sink in, give thanks and express sincere gratitude to loved ones and our Maker for the many blessings in each of our lives. 

God bless each of you.

M. David Allen
RMEF President/CEO

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hunters Work Together to Rescue New Mexico Elk

Bull elk near Chama, New Mexico
There’s just something magnetic about a muddy, stinky wallow for elk—especially for bulls. They seem to revel in wallowing in mud. Why do they do it? Well, to coat themselves with stench-laden “perfume” in order to attract cows and intimidate other bulls. Unfortunately, wallows can be death traps. We almost saw that during Idaho’s 2013 bow season when two young hunters saved a calf from such a mucky fate.

A similar scenario played out this past summer in extreme north-central New Mexico just south of the Colorado-New Mexico border. Donald Carrillo and his fellow ranch hands rescued two bull elk and one cow from a deep wallow. Carrillo was not there for the first rescue but he described the second. 

“What we did was put a slip knot around his horn,” he said. “We could get the truck down there so we hooked the rope up to the winch and pulled him out and cut the rope when he got out. Then he took off.”

Carrillo said the cow had a little tougher go of it. When they found her he said it looked like she had been there for a few days because birds had “tried to peck her eyes out.” They feared they might break her neck if they put a rope around it. Since she was up to her neck in mud it was a real dilemma. They had several different ideas. They all failed until the final one.

“I got a long stick and pushed down the rope in the mud. Then I went behind her with the stick and pushed her and we somehow got the rope around her and her front leg. We hooked it up to the ball of the truck and I pulled her out. Well, the guys helped her get out.”

To make sure this would not be a reoccurring scenario, the ranch decided to build an 8-foot fence around the wallow. 

“Being a hunter is not always about killing game. Sometimes, you have to help out,” added Carrillo.

Thank you Donald! Kudos go out to you and your fellow ranch hands!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fiscal Year 2016 Access Funding Letter

Below is a letter that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation co-signed along with other groups requesting federal agencies to supply funding to maintain, create and improve public access for hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts across the country.

The Honorable Shaun Donovan
Office of Management & Budget
1650 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Room 252
Washington, DC 20503

The Honorable Sally Jewell
Secretary of the Interior
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Room 6156
Washington, DC 20240

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave, SW
Room 200-A
Washington, DC 20250

November 12, 2014

Dear Director Donovan, Secretary Jewell and Secretary Vilsack:

The undersigned organizations represent hunters and recreation enthusiasts across the United States who are united in seeking your continuing help to open and improve access to public lands for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting through the continuation of "Sportsmen/Recreation Access" funding within the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in FY2016. This important budget item would dedicate a small portion of LWCF to projects that open recreational access to existing Federal land that is de facto inaccessible to the public.

This programmatic budget proposal has had wide support in the Congress, as it has previously been included in both chambers' appropriations bills, is the focus of bipartisan stand-alone legislation, the Making Public Lands Public Access Act, and is part of a larger Sportsmen's bill.

Both the Forest Service and the BLM included $2,000,000 for recreational access in the President's budget in FY2015, which our community strongly supported. Previous appropriations for this line item have achieved great successes: 80,000 acres of elk/deer habitat now accessible on Cross Mountain in Colorado (BLM); fishable stream miles increased 25% on the premier Yampa River section just below Stagecoach Reservoir, Colorado (BLM/FS); 42-mile stretch of the John Day River, Oregon opened to rafters for angling and hunting trips under a proposed acquisition (BLM).

We urge you to increase this funding line to $6 million for each agency, FS and BLM. The funds are being spend well and obligated quickly:

  • Half of all hunters conduct a portion of their hunting activity on public lands. Lack of access is cited as the primary reason that hunters, anglers and target shooters stop participating in these traditional activities.
  • Opening access to the public lands is not only vital to preserving America’s sporting heritage, but it will also serve to benefit the economy. Sportsmen and women spend millions of dollars on their outdoor pursuits. Additionally, excise taxes on fishing, hunting, shooting equipment and motorboat fuel as well as fees for licenses and stamps are all dedicated to state fish and wildlife management programs.
  • Coupled with the generous support of conservation organizations, this generates nearly $3 billion a year for conservation efforts.

Thank you for your consideration of this request and for your service on behalf of
America’s hunting and fishing conservation community.


Stop Taking Wildlife Selfies!

Via Tundra Comics
It was an absolutely beautiful summer day in Canada’s Banff National Park. Our mini-van was stuffed full of our belongings, let alone our four children with their noses pressed up against the windows as we were on our way to meet up with some old college friends for a camping trip. We came around a bend in the highway only to see a slew of cars pulled over just off the side of the road. Finally, our first up-close Banff wildlife sighting!

We piled out of the van and looked toward the edge of the meadow where we saw a massive elk making its way out of the edge of the tree line, its antlers still covered in velvet. At that time, it was the closest I’d ever been to such a majestic and extremely LARGE bull. We kept our distance and snapped what would turn out to be a couple of longer range fuzzy photos. Others seemed to take their lives in their hands by creeping closer and closer to snap a keepsake.

My brother, a biologist, has a saying for such encounters: “This is not Disneyland.” In other words, wild animals are wild. They are not warm and fuzzy cartoon-like characters. They are unpredictable and can be dangerous or even deadly. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop some folks who either don’t know any better or like to tempt fate. 

The U.S. Forest Service recently issued a news release calling on visitors seeking to get too close to bear activity at a Kokanee salmon spawn in California. The release states some people are ignoring posted directions putting both themselves and the bears in danger.

And when you add social media into the mix, other folks are bound and determined to get what could be life-threatening selfies. It’s getting just plain ridiculous. Case in point, check out the tweet below recently published by OutdoorHub. It shows a selfie of a man taken in Alaska with a bear over his shoulder. Would you ever for any reason turn your back on a bear if you knew it was behind you? Seriously, would you?

Look at the photo below taken near Evergreen, Colorado. It sums up poor behavior in an up-close and disturbing kind of way. Watching it makes me cringe. (Click here to see what I mean.)

Bull elk vs. cell phone photographer

So if you spot a bull elk in a meadow, a bear in the forest or any kind of wild animal on a wild landscape, go ahead and pull out your cell phone or camera but remain at a safe distance and be careful. After all, this isn’t Disneyland.

Mark Holyoak
RMEF Director of Communication

Brothers Put Down Their Rifles, Help Free Tangled Elk

This is the true tale of two brothers who worked together to rescue an elk tangled in a barb wire fence. Below is a first-hand account from Jordan Say.

“So I was helping my brother out trying to get him an elk up in Starkey, Oregon. And when I started to approach a road I noticed there was something in the fence that didn't look right because where we hunt is private land and this definitely wasn't something I've seen before there. I threw up my binoculars and sure enough it was an elk’s belly, so I walked up to it cautiously trying not to disturb it because I could tell it was wrapped up in the fence pretty good. I tried getting it out by myself but there was no way one person could do it. The top barb wire was crossed with the bottom wire so I needed some help. 

“I met up with my brother Jerin and we got some tools that we had brought and we pried the clips off of the fence posts and got the calf untangled. She had been there for a while. She was shaking and was looking at me like she was thankful for the help. When we got her out of the fence she laid there for a good five minutes confused and not knowing what to do. We finally poked her with a stick just trying to get her going to see if she could stand. She got up kind of looked at us and ran off with no problems.

“It was the neatest thing I've ever seen! And just last year literally 50 yards from the one we saved this year we saved another calf that was tangled up in the fence. It was just being at the right place at the right time two years in a row. 

“I'm all about fair chase but when you see a helpless animal, you have to put the hunt aside. All I could think about is helping that calf and making sure she had a chance to live.”

Jordan Say
Bend, Oregon

Thank you Jordan and Jerin for demonstrating fine hunting ethics and for making a difference in elk country.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother in Arms

Jim Kinsey pauses while carrying
Bo Reichenbach the final few steps
He struggled on all fours but continued climbing with the same dogged determination that marked his distinguished and honored military career. Bo Reichenbach, one of only two double amputee Navy SEALS in all of America, was scaling a steep coulee in Montana. Bo was 95 percent of the way to the top when Jim Kinsey, a former U.S. Marine, stepped in and lifted Reichenbach onto his back. He then powered his way step-by-step to the summit. It was truly an inspirational sight!

Reichenbach is from Billings, Mont. While serving our country on deployment to Afghanistan, he stepped on an IED on July 17, 2012. The explosion caused him to lose his left leg and his right leg below the knee as well as a 40 to 60 percent hearing loss and nerve damage in his right arm. 

He received a Purple Heart just two weeks after returning home to the United States. He has undergone more than 20 different medical procedures since then and continues to recover on a daily basis. Bo also received the Bronze Star, the fourth-highest individual military award and the ninth-highest by order of precedence in the U.S. Military. 

Jana Waller, Bo and Don Reichenbach
Bo hiking in his "shorties"
(short prosthetics)

Reichenbach was in Montana to take part in his first ever elk hunt, arranged and paid for by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. (He visited RMEF headquarters just 13 months earlier.) Kinsey, executive producer and best known as ‘Cameraman Jim,’ was there to help capture it on video for Skullbound TV, a hunting television show hosted by Jana Waller.

Together, Bo, Jim, Jana, guide Jay Pribyl and Bo’s father, Don, spent a memorable seven days chasing elk. They did so through incredibly steep, rough terrain. 

“We dealt with a challenging landscape and awful weather but Bo's warrior heart and persistence was inspiring!” said Waller.

It turns out they needed every single day of the week-long hunt because it came down to the final day for Reichenbach to fill his tag with a 6x5 bull.

“Tears were shed by all when Bo finally connected on his bull,” said Waller. “And when he made his way over, through the thick brush and trees, he wrapped his hands around the bull's antlers where he was missing his 3rd tine and said, ‘Oh look! How cool! He's an amputee too!’” 

Congrats Bo and thank you for your service and sacrifice!

(The episode is reportedly scheduled to air on Feb. 11 on Sportsman Channel.)

Mission Accomplished!
Don, Jana and Bo

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veterans Day: Remembrance and Reverence

Dear RMEF Family,

November 11 is always a special day. It’s called Remembrance Day or Armistice Day in other parts of the world. In America, we call it Veterans Day.

There is a reason Veterans Day always falls on November 11. It was originally established to observe the end of World War I which formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the armistice with Germany took effect. 

Today Veterans Day marks an official federal holiday that recognizes and honors ALL those who spent time serving our country in the U.S. Armed Forces.

There is no more special group of Americans among us than our veterans. They sacrifice time away from their loved ones to put their lives on the line to defend and protect the many freedoms we enjoy as individuals and as an RMEF family. To all of them and all of you, including many who are family members, friends, RMEF volunteers, staffers and members, we say a sincere “thank you” for your dedication and service in behalf of our great nation.


David Allen
RMEF President and CEO

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Election Day 2014: A Good Day for Hunters

It wasn’t a clean sweep but it was pretty close. Election Day 2014 turned out to be a good day for sportsmen and women across the country.

Voters in Alabama ratified a constitutional amendment to strengthen hunting and fishing rights. The so-called “Sportsperson’s Bill of Rights” is a pre-emptive move to protect the rights of those who want to hunt and fish from those seeking to prohibit those activities. Approximately 80 percent of Alabamans voted in favor.

"Hunting and fishing are huge industries in the state and country. A lot of people don't understand or realize that excise taxes (on hunting and fishing equipment) fund the conservation department. It's a big deal. It's a positive economic impact for the state and we're trying to enshrine the right to hunt and fish for the future," Rep. Mark Tuggle, R-Alexander City told the Alabama TV show “Capital Journal.”

For the second time in ten years Maine rejected an attempt to do away with or severely limit bear hunting. This time the issue had to do with banning the use of bait, traps and dogs in bear hunting. According to the Portland Press Herald, voters turned back the effort despite the infusion of approximately $2 million in funding from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a well-known anti-hunting organization, which supported the ban. 

“We faced an incredible amount of adversity in this campaign,” James Cote, Question 1 campaign manager, told the Herald. “They threw everything at us they can. I am proud to say that we prevailed.”

HSUS also cast what turned out to be a one-sided shadow in Michigan where voters approved two moot referendums seeking to overturn two laws that will remain on the books regardless of the vote. One allows wolf hunting while the other gives the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) the authority to name game species. The vote was moot because a citizen-initiated law already passed last August will take effect in March and restore the authority of the NRC to name game species using sound science – including wolves. 

“The results were about what we expected,” said Drew YoungeDyke, public relations manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “HSUS spent millions on misleading political ads and flyers to take away hunting rights, but the citizen initiative we passed in August protects those rights. I’m sure HSUS’s donors will be glad to know they spent $1.5 million on what’s essentially a public relations poll, money that could have gone to local animal shelters.”

HSUS is expected to file a lawsuit. 

Voters in Mississippi overwhelmingly saw to it that their state became the 18th to adopt a constitutional right to hunt and fish. About 87 percent of voters approved the measure. Once the amendment is officially adopted, hunting and fishing will become a right instead of a mere privilege for Mississippians. 

The states with constitutional protections for fishing and hunting are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.