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

Friday, December 4, 2015

Elk Camp Day Two: Ethics, Honors & Guitars

The second day of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Elk Camp national convention shifted into a higher gear with more celebrations of elk, elk country and those who excel in carrying out RMEF’s mission. 

Charlie Decker, Wayne van Zwoll, Bob Munson
(left to right)
Activities began with Bob Munson and Charlie Decker presenting their Founder’s Award to a surprised, and yet most deserving, Wayne van Zwoll. Among RMEF’s earliest of employees, van Zwoll remains one of its ardent supporters. Beyond his employment and volunteer work, he wrote an article in just the second issue of Bugle magazine in 1985 and his popular Rifles and Cartridges column appeared in every Bugle since 1986.

“It’s a worthy cause (the RMEF) but more importantly there are worthy people behind it. This means a great deal to me,” said van Zwoll.

Steven Rinella
RMEF life member and TV host of MeatEater, Steven Rinella, took the microphone as the Friends of the Foundation breakfast featured speaker to talk about the importance of hunting ethics. He presented “six pieces of advice I have for us (as hunters).” Rinella also held one book signing for RMEF members and another at the Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Exposition.

Speaking of the expo, throngs lined up in anticipation of the doors opening at 9 a.m. Vendors had another busy day as attendees streamed through the South Halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

The Elk Country Theater featured more elk hunting, elk calling and other informative and hands-on outdoor presentations while the Cabela’s Live Stage hosted more country music performances. Next door, another day of non-stop bullfighting, wild pony races, mini bucking bulls, 13 & under boys tie-down and the mini bareback championships took place at the Wrangler Rodeo Arena. The auction hall also hosted its second auction in as many days.

Jim, Jack and LeAnn Craig, Decker and Munson
(left to right)
Elk Camp’s Friday night festivities kicked off with the presentation of the Conservationist of the Year Award to Jack, Jim, and LeAnn Craig who have made a lasting impact on more lives than can be counted while providing significant support to RMEF and conservation. They held SAFE events for hundreds of children in Indiana, paid for three other youth to take part in a cow elk hunt in New Mexico, hosted RMEF Region One staff meetings and host a special Christmas annually for underprivileged kids at their lodge.

“Every year it’s worth it. When you see those kids get to the chute. It just makes it all worthwhile,” said LeAnn Craig.

RMEF President/CEO David Allen talked about the importance of all hunters and RMEF members to keep up with conservation issues and unveiled four initiatives that will assist outreach and fundraising efforts: public access, elk restoration, habitat stewardship and hunting heritage. He also warned of the consequences for elk populations and hunters regarding a renewed effort by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other groups seeking to place Mexican wolves in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah—four states whose governors are adamantly opposed to such a project.

“RMEF will not sit back and be passive,” declared Allen.

Members also viewed a hunting and conservation video by #PROJECTELK creator Jason Matzinger. After dinner, the popular guitar pull returned for a second year. Terri Clark, making her third Elk Camp appearance, joined Mark Wills and Chuck Wicks to swap stories, lots of ribbing and play song after song. A prolonged ovation prompted an encore before attendees closed the evening by enjoying another live feed from the National Finals Rodeo across town.

Mark Wills, Terri Clark, RMEF life member Anhie Ivie and Chuck Wicks
(left to right)