Here’s what happened. A Bugle magazine staffer was recently digging through a desk drawer at RMEF headquarters and came across a letter (see below) dated December 1984—that’s a mere seven months after the Elk Foundation’s official founding. As you can probably tell, it was typewritten.
What you may not know is the return address of Rt. 3 Wilderness Plateau in Troy, Montana, no longer exists. Well, at least RMEF’s first headquarters –a converted double-wide trailer– no longer exists. Today, that location is merely an empty field with no indication of its emotionally-charged past.
|RMEF's original headquarters|
Rt. 3 Wilderness Plateau Troy, Montana
“When you see where we started you will know it’s a miracle that we made it where we are today,” RMEF co-founder Charlie Decker recalled.
“Those were some dark days in Troy. We did a lot of praying in those early days and a lot of deep thinking,” added Bob Munson, also a co-founder.
Munson and Decker, along with Dan Bull and Bob’s brother Bill, as well as their families, scratched and clawed to keep the new non-profit organization financially afloat. They launched Bugle magazine, welcomed volunteers and staffers on board, and just plain survived.
As the letter states, “A strong membership gives the Foundation the ability to really make a difference in the future of elk in North America.” Nothing rings more true! At that time, there were approximately 500,000 elk in North America.
Today, due in part to RMEF and a vast army of hunter-conservationists, there are more than a million elk in North America, including wild, free-ranging herds in 28 states as well as a number of Canadian provinces.
Today, RMEF’s membership is 205,000 strong and boasts more than 11,000 dedicated volunteers who work together to carry out a shared mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.
Today, we remain grateful for the sacrifices made by our early RMEF pioneers who helped propel the organization to what is now a strong foundation with a loud, resonating voice in the wildlife conservation world.
“It was truly miraculous and we appreciate so many people. I believe God had his hand on this thing. It’s his landscape and it’s pretty awesome to be involved in that,” added Munson.
We don’t need a yellowing piece of paper to tell us that.