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

Friday, December 5, 2014

Day Two: Roasted & Rockin’ at Elk Camp

"Something's starting to smell here."
It all began innocently enough. David Allen, president and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, joined hundreds of other RMEF members and volunteers as they filed in for the Friends of the Foundation Breakfast. He made the rounds, ate breakfast with his family, checked in with event organizers and then took his place on stage with emcee Brandon Bates. But then things did not go exactly as planned. Check that—things didn’t go exactly as he planned.

Brandon started to go off script. You see, David had received a totally different agenda for the gathering—a bogus agenda. Less than a dozen people were in on it. The fix was on. Or maybe we should say the roast was on.

Brandon started waxing nostalgic about the past—David’s past.

“Whoa, something’s starting to smell here,” said Allen.

A video presentation showed a series of photos from David’s childhood, teenage years and during his early professional life. 

“Something definitely smells,” Allen correctly concluded.

Actually, the show was just getting started. Bates said he had some “old friends” of David’s to welcome to the stage. Out of the shadows entered rodeo legend and long-time friend and associate Ty Murray, NASCAR owner Richard Childress and legendary rodeo announcer Bob Tallman. All three are also RMEF members. They reveled in the occasion.

For the next 30 minutes or so it was no-holds-barred. Murray, Childress and Tallman shared tale after tale from Allen’s past. 

“Ty Murray has never told a true story in his life,” quipped Allen.

But Murray passed along something David himself posted on Facebook. Just this past October, Allen received the Professional Bull Riders’ (PBR) Jim Shoulders Lifetime Achievement Award for significant contributions to the sport by a non-rider. As you can see below Allen posted “Special thanks to my partner for 19 years Ty Murray.” Yeah, that’s David’s wife Toni who is also in the photo along with his two boys and Murray. 

When that Facebook post popped up on the big screen, Murray admitted that Allen’s reference to Murray as his "partner” has “ruined my reputation!” (Murray and his wife recently announced intentions to divorce.) 

And so the barbs and the tales continued to fly. But so did the heartfelt compliments.

As a key cog in the formation of the PBR, Murray talked about Allen’s commitment, drive, passion and trustworthiness that helped the organization get off the ground. He said their long professional relationship was never based on a contract—only a handshake.

“David believed in us and believed in our idea,” said Murray.

Murray, a nine-time world champion rodeo cowboy, presented Allen with a pair of chaps he wore during an appearance in the National Finals rodeo.

“You will be a legend for all you’ve done for elk and elk country,” Childress chimed in. “Thanks for that buddy.”

“David Allen is a magnet to bring people together,” said Tallman. “He was never attracted to big business but big business was attracted to him. This man is a giver, not a taker.”

“I love all 3 of these guys in huge ways,” said Allen. “I probably should’ve been in jail with three of these guys for one reason or another. Ty has been the best business partner I’ve ever had.

“Mr. Tallman and I probably go back the farthest. He’s become the ultimate in the rodeo announcer and he is the best at what he does.

“Richard I spent at least 26 or 27 years together. He was as broke and as out of the loop as I was when he started. I got to go through the golden years of NASCAR, the Earnhardt-Childress years with him. What Dale and Richard, and especially Richard did for me, I’ll never be able to repay. Richard is the primary reason I got hooked up with RMEF. He put his Montana place in an easement and put me in contact with some of the folks to do some marketing work. I love them all.”

Ty Murray, David Allen, Richard Childress, Bob Tallman
(left to right)

A second round of seminars was among the highlighted activities at the Hunter Christmas Exposition, presented by Cabela’s. First up was a packing clinic hosted by Cottonwood Ranch Hunter Services in Nevada. Blain Jackson and his crew invited attendees to tie ropes, lash on antlers and learn by getting their hands dirty. 

Lee & Tiffany Lakosky
Ralph Ramos, a native of New Mexico with 28 years of experience in the archery and hunting industry, offered suggestions about hunting on private land. He talked about calling styles, locating strategies, decoying tactics, excessive cow talk, rattling in big bulls and utilizing aggressive bugling techniques.

Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, popular hosts of the television show Crush with Lee and Tiffany, hosted a Q & A session with their throngs of followers and fans. They talked about their love of whitetail deer and whitetail hunting but Lee admitted that his favorite species to hunt is elk. 

Corey Jacobsen 
Just in time for the lunch hour, the Cook with Cabela’s crew returned to the stage with a hands-on presentation about preparing tough cuts of meat. They handed out samples in small cups and even provided lunch for at least a dozen or so people after their seminar.

Kristy Titus
Seven-time RMEF World Elk Calling Champion Corey Jacobsen presented tactics and strategies for calling in and hunting the herd bull. His presentation utilized a series of calls needed for different scenarios.

Kristy Titus, a featured member of RMEF Team Elk, hosted the sixth and final seminar of the day. She related what she learned from her elk hunts in her home state of Oregon and other hunts across elk country. 

Dan Mortensen
There was also a second day of auctions, another round of celebrity autograph sessions and, of course, nearly 300 vendors manning their booths for the growing crowds.

The highlight of Elk Camp’s Friday Night Banquet was the presentation of the Wallace Pate Award, RMEF’s highest conservation honor, to Tom Baker. The long-time RMEF volunteer, member and former chairman of the board was the driving force in restoring elk to Kentucky. Thanks to his passion and dedication, the Bluegrass State now has the largest elk population east of the Mississippi at 10,000-strong. Three of his five children accepted the award. Baker did not attend because of poor health.

The children of Tom Baker accept the Wallace Pate Award

The entertainment was casual, entertaining and a bit unique. Country music artists Tracy Lawrence (left), Chuck Wicks and Mark Wills, along with two other guitarists, teamed up for a guitar pull. The three of them alternated singing songs that left Elk Camp attendees tapping their toes and singing along. They also joined together to sing two songs.

It was a rockin’ way to set the table for a live feed from the NFR for the second night in a row that closed out day two of Elk Camp.

Special thanks to Buck Knives for sponsoring the Friday evening banquet

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