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


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

RMEF Family,

This is such a wonderful time of the year. Many of us are fresh off spending time in the backcountry, mountains or the woods chasing elk, deer or other game. Those outings strengthened relationships with family and friends as well as our ties to scenic landscapes and the wildlife we all cherish.

2015 was a year to remember for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. RMEF permanently protected and opened or secured public access to tens of thousands of acres of prime elk habitat. Thanks to our passionate volunteers, dedicated members and our partners, we financed and helped carry out scores of habitat enhancement projects to improve the countryside for elk and other critters. We also reached out to more youth to pass on our hunting heritage way of life.

Shortly, Santa will make his annual rounds and we all look forward to that, right? May I suggest that some of the best gifts we can give and resolutions we can make are to be grateful for our blessings, give thanks to those around us and resolve to be better hunter-conservationists. I am grateful to be a part of this growing conservation organization that does so much to carry out our shared mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, our habitat and our hunting heritage. Thank you for all you do! I am also extremely thankful for my wife and my boys.

I want to wish each of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy your time with your loved ones. Express your gratitude to them and to our Maker for the many things we all enjoy in the outdoors, including the abundant wildlife and habitat resources.


Sincerely,

M. David Allen
RMEF President & CEO



Friday, December 11, 2015

Colorado Habitat Benefits from RMEF Grant Funding

Below is a complete listing of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2015 grants for the state of Colorado. Find more information here.

Chaffee County—Burn 250 acres at varying intensities to stimulate mountain mahogany sprouting and reduce pinyon-juniper invasion into grassland, reduce dead and down fuels and duff layer within the Salida Ranger District on the San Isabel National Forest in an effort to change big game distribution from private lands to public lands.

Eagle County—Treat noxious weeds, repair/replace irrigation system and seed the land with grasses and forbs to improve 43 acres within a 536-acre project area up Toner Creek on the Basalt State Wildlife Area to improve wildlife forage; provide funding for six gates to close roads from December 1 to April 15 to reduce disturbances to elk and other wildlife on more than 41,000 acres of crucial winter range on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Two of the gates will close earlier to provide non-motorized hunting opportunities and reduce the movement of elk and mule deer onto private land during archery, muzzleloader and rifle seasons (also benefits Garfield and Pitkin Counties); and apply prescribed fire to burn brush, grasses and decadent aspen trees on 475 acres of BLM land and 918 acres of White River National Forest land on the west flank of Basalt Mountain in the Roaring Fork Valley to rejuvenate forage for elk and deer. In addition, mechanically treat 118 acres to open up Gambel oak thickets and remove pinyon juniper from an area previously treated in 2014.

El Paso County—Host a SAFE (Shooting Access for Everyone) Challenge event in Colorado Springs to help new young and novice shooters learn firearm safety, the hunter’s role in conservation, shooting ethics and how to shoot a variety of firearms.

Fremont County—Mechanically thin 506 acres and hand-thin 97 acres as well as install wildlife water guzzlers to improve forage conditions on BLM and state land bordering private agricultural land six miles south of Texas Creek.

Garfield County—Perform shrub mastication on 800 acres, prescribed burning on 2,000 acres, and herbicide application on 200 acres as part of a multi-year project to improve wildlife habitat on approximately 6,000 acres across the south side of the Rifle Ranger District on the White River National Forest (also benefits Mesa County); and apply a mosaic pattern of prescribed burning on 1,250 acres to reduce the overgrowth of mountain shrub and pinyon-juniper in the Hay Canyon area on BLM land to increase forage availability while retaining adequate wildlife cover and reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfire.

Grand County—Provide funding for a study to document and assess movements of elk within the Troublesome and Williams Fork herds near Middle Park, Colorado, on state, Arapaho National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park lands to assist wildlife managers with management decisions; hand thin 320 acres and hydro axe 160 acres of sagebrush and mountain shrub habitat encroached by pinyon and juniper thus improving forage on winter range and calving areas in the Radium Valley area on BLM land; treat 314 acres of noxious weeds within the Sulphur Ranger District’s backcountry on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest to benefit habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorn, mountain lion, and other wildlife; and provide RMEF volunteer manpower to remove 1.25 miles of hazardous fence (totaling about five miles of wire) from elk and mule deer habitat in the Buffalo Creek drainage on the Arapaho National Forest.

Gunnison County—Use a combination of ripping, barrier placement, signing and seeding to close 46 miles of roads on BLM land in an area identified during the Travel Management Planning process as having high route densities affecting elk, deer and sage grouse movement. When complete, the 11,385-acre project area will still have 49 miles of open roads; apply pre-burn mechanical treatments and subsequent prescribed burning to approximately 1,000 acres across five project areas within the Upper Gunnison Basin on the Gunnison National Forest to benefit big game habitat by stimulating forage and aspen regeneration (also affects Saguache County); assess forage production in areas that previously received riparian and wet meadow restoration treatments to determine whether and how much these treatments are improving the quality of elk winter range in the Upper Gunnison Basin on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests as well as private land; and provide funding to assist the 3rd Buck Creek Ranch Brothers In Arms Hunting Camp which will host up to 14 soldiers for seven days of elk hunting.

Huerfano County—Apply hydro axe treatment to 200 acres in the Williams Creek drainage on the San Isabel National Forest to reduce canopy cover and open pinyon-juniper and Ponderosa pine forested areas, as well as restore meadows being encroached by conifers in an area used year-round by elk.

Jackson County—Thin 462 acres of lodgepole pine in elk summer and transitional range on the Routt National Forest to stimulate the growth of forbs, grasses and shrubs.

Larimer County—Provide funding for a group of wildlife students to start up a RMEF student chapter on the Colorado State University campus.

Las Animas County—Place solar pumps on former windmill-generated water sources to provide water for wildlife where it is presently intermittent or unavailable near sites that previously received habitat enhancement treatment to assist with elk distribution on the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area; place solar pumps at existing well locations on the U.S. Army’s 236,000-acre Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site to provide reliable year-round water sources for elk, deer and other wildlife as well as a water source for fire teams to utilize the sites in the event of wildfire; and provide funding for the Las Animas County 4-H Shooting Sports program to assist with the purchase of firearms, shooting targets and range improvements in a new shooting area.

Mesa County—Provide funding for Base Camp 40, an organization dedicated to taking military veterans on memorable hunts, which will host seven veterans on a private land cow elk hunt near Glade Park.

Moffat County—Implement juniper mastication across 1,560 acres of BLM and private land where juniper is encroaching into productive grassland habitat that historically received periodic wildfire north of Douglas Mountain.

Park County—Apply noxious weed treatment on 530 acres of the South Park Ranger District on the Pike National Forest as part of the second year of a multi-year project; and provide funding to purchase seed mix for 14 acres receiving brush hog treatment to remove decadent grass and potentilla along the Middle Fork of the South Platte River on the Tomahawk State Wildlife Area..

Rio Blanco County—Treat noxious weeds on 150 acres in the South Fork of the White River drainage on the White River National Forest using spraying and both manual and burning treatments to benefit calving grounds and summer range.

Rio Grande County—Hydro axe approximately 600 acres of overly dense mixed conifer forest in the Dyers Creek area within the Embargo Creek drainage on BLM land to ease potential fire hazard and improve elk forage on winter and transitional range.

San Miguel County—Remove tamarisk from 235 acres of crucial big game winter range habitat thus reducing competition for water and increasing available forage in the Dry Creek drainage near Basin on BLM land that is home to more than 500 wintering elk.

Teller County—Provide funding to co-sponsor the annual Outdoor Skills Day at Colorado's Mueller State Park which invites families to learn the basics or test their skills at many outdoor activities include shooting, archery, fishing, knot tying, geocaching, wildlife information, camping and more.

Partners for the Colorado projects include Arapaho-Roosevelt, Grand Mesa, Gunnison, Medicine Bow-Routt, Pike, Rio Grande, San Isabel, Uncompahgre and White River National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and other government, university, civic and sportsmen groups and organizations.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 205,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 6.7 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Closing Elk Camp 2015 with a Bang

Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. RMEF honored its 11,000+ volunteers by capping off its Elk Camp national convention with Volunteer Fun Night. Air horns sounded, confetti flew and volunteers from around the nation stood to cheer on their peers as states and chapters received recognition for their fundraising efforts.

It was also a night of game-playing and winning. Random volunteers heard their names called to come to the stage to spin the big wheel. Prizes included a rifle, GPS system, gun safe, outdoor gear and other hunting-related goodies. RMEF founders Bob Munson and Charlie Decker played the part of “shady dealers” and came up short again and again and again against volunteers in us-versus-them blackjack showdowns. RMEF sponsors and supporters supplied prizes for the victorious volunteers.

RMEF shared The Mirage stage with some well-known and “historic” faces. The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis, kicked off dinnertime entertainment by performing a medley of his favorite songs. Marilyn Monroe followed with some tunes of her own but raised some eyebrows (and heart rates) by serenading red-faced men in the crowd. The Rat Pack of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. capped the Vegas-based entertainment by reuniting to croon some favorite toe-tapping tunes.

Volunteer Fun Night kicked up a notch in energy and volume when RMEF friend, elk hunter and country music superstar Craig Morgan hit the stage. It didn’t take long until the dance floor was full as he and his band rocked deep into the Las Vegas night.

The final day of Elk Camp kicked off the day with sounds of a different type—sounds that if attendees closed their eyes, they would think they are on a mountain ridge rather than in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Competitors of all ages gathered for the annual World Elk Calling Championships. They barked, grunted, mewed and bugled in an attempt to wow the judges. Winners included Corey Jacobsen (pro division), Tom Griffiths (men's), Sutton Callaway (voice), Austin Rose (youth) and Joseph Simper (pee wee).

Three days of auctions concluded with thousands of dollars raised to benefit RMEF’s habitat conservation efforts. Among the more popular items were a pack mule that casually wandered through the auction hall and a golden Labrador puppy that stole a lot of hearts before finding a new home.


Elk Camp 2015 will be a convention to remember to many reasons. But once again elk, elk country, conservation and volunteers are the big winners.
#thanksvolunteers




Hunts, Trips, Rifles, Mule & Puppy….Sold!

It was like a scene out of the Lion King. In this case, a female Labrador puppy was held high by Lori Young, the breeder from Montana. The bidding came down to two prospective buyers located about 50 yards apart on the auction floor. As the price continued to rise, Lori found herself somewhat breathlessly jogging back and forth from one buyer to the other with the fur ball in her arms. In the end, the young pup went for $6,500 dollars to a buyer who finished as runner-up for another of Lori’s lab puppies at last year’s auction.

Lori’s Labradors is one of nearly 100 different businesses or organizations that offered auction items at three different Elk Camp auctions to raise funds for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. In fact, more than 65 percent of the 92 items are a full donation, meaning they were donated with no cost to RMEF with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting RMEF’s habitat conservation projects. 

The pup was not the only animal to hit the auction block. Liberty, an eight-year-old gray mare mule also turned some heads and brought in some serious dollar signs. Broke to picket, pack meat, lead the pack string or ride off alone, Liberty calmly walked among the luncheon tables as the bids continually increased. In the end, a buyer offered $17,000 for a new four-legged hunting companion. 

Auction items include home d├ęcor, furniture, gift packs, hunting and fishing trips, firearm and archery equipment, outdoor gear, knives, jewelry, art, a cabin, tractor, NASCAR trip and many other choices. 



The most spirited of three different auctions remains the Ladies Luncheon & Auction. The “ladies only” affair, outside of the all-male ring crew, featured an appearance by a Dolly Parton impersonator as well as other “Dollys” scattered around the room. The ladies cheered on each other and even cranked up the music to show off their dance moves.



RMEF is grateful to all the auction donors, workers and attendees who support our mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. Thank you!


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)




Steven Rinella to Hunters: Six Pieces of Advice for Us

Steven Rinella knows hunting. And he knows how to talk about it with others, including those who hunt, those who are indifferent and those who downright disagree with it.

An avid outdoorsman, award-winning author, host of the TV show MeatEater and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation life member, Rinella attended RMEF’s Elk Camp national convention to share his wit and wisdom as the Friends of the Foundation breakfast featured speaker. Specifically, he talked about the importance of hunting ethics by presenting “six pieces of advice I have for us (as hunters).”

Hunters live in a broader culture and that broader system is making decisions regarding wildlife. 
In other words, stay up to speed on vital political issues including land and wildlife management. Be knowledgeable and active in the voting booth or others will vote and decide your way of life for you.

We need to understand our surroundings and our quarry.
What is the land you’re on? Who owns it? What are the needs of the land? What are the particulars of a given species? Limit the stuff we don’t know. Know where we are to avoid trespassing issues.

We need to know our history better.
Hunters have a lot to be proud of. We are part of a vast effort that led to the recovery of elk, deer and a variety of game and non-game species. Know the story and learn how to tell it to others.

We need to master our skills.
A lot of hunters think the hunting opener is a one-day deal where you bag your game and then look forward to next year. Hunters need to remain actively engaged as practitioners, know the limits of their equipment and how to use it.

Know the ethics.
Don’t assume that your buddy has the answers. If you have a question, your state regulations will contain 99 percent of the answers. Never turn to vigilantism.

Put the animals before yourself.
Rinella had a friend who once asked “If you love buffalo so much, why did you kill one?” He explained that hunters need to spend a lot of time in understanding the difference between one animal and “animal-ness.” His buffalo hunt required he know and recognize the sex and age of his specific quarry. Hunters need to know the same and teach their children and others how to articulate that point. Rinella closed by referencing writer Thomas McGuane who recalled a conversation in which a non-hunter challenges a hunter:

“Why should (deer) die for you?” the non-hunter asks. “Would you die for deer?”

“If it came to that,” the hunter replies.

Rinella’s books include The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine; American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon; Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter; and the newly released 2-volume series The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game.

Below is a video that shows how he responded to a question he faces all the time: “How can you justify the killing of animals?”

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Elk Camp/Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Expo Day One: Cowboy Up!

The first day of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s largest-ever expo, the Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Exposition, presented by Cabela’s, bolted out of the chute like a young rodeo bull rider looking to make a name for himself. The expo combined with the Cowboy Christmas Gift Show to cover more than 900,000 square feet –that’s a hair less than 21 acres– in the South Halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. In a nutshell, it’s a cavernous mega-dream for folks who cater to hunting and the Western lifestyle. 

The 10-day show runs Dec. 3-12. For RMEF, it’s a bold, yet calculated move designed to expose the organization and its mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage to more people from more places across the country and around the world than ever before. And it’s already working. The Cowboy Christmas/RMEF expo team effort is generating a lot of buzz in Las Vegas.




The expo features exhibitors showcasing the best in hunting, optics and other outdoor-related gear and apparel. But it is much more than that. There are antlers galore—from RMEF’s Great Elk Tour  (above left) to Eastman’s Trophy Deer Tour (above right). Chevy Trucks and NRS Trailers, just to name two, are among a throng of industry leaders on hand. 



Fans of the National Finals Rodeo are also flocking to the expo floor to witness a slew of events at the Wrangler Rodeo Arena. Among them are the standing-room-only Bullfighters Only Las Vegas Championship, miniature bucking bulls, wild pony races, mini bareback championships, and the 13 & under boys and girls tie-down and breakaway events. 

Chad Bushnell
Attendees can also meet, greet and tap their toes to the country music tunes of seven different performing artists. Chad Bushnell entertained fans on day one at the Cabela’s Live Stage (Booth #1220).

Randy Newberg
Kristy Titus
“All elk hunting all the time” remains the theme at the Elk Country Theater. Day one presenters included Randy Newberg, Kristy Titus, Rich Birdsell, Weston Clark and Wayne van Zwoll.

What better way to cap off a fast-paced first day than with Elk Camp Opening Ceremonies back at The Mirage! Members gathered to renew old friendships and form new ones. They recognized Jack Ward Thomas as the 2015 recipient of the Wallace Fennell Pate Conservationist Award, the highest honor bestowed by RMEF. They also celebrated the Tenderfoot Creek acquisition in Montana—a land protection and public access project nine years in the making– as well as other projects and accomplishments including RMEF hitting the $1 billion value in its all-time conservation efforts.

Country music star Tracy Lawrence capped off the evening by standing before behind the microphone to say, “It’s great to be in a room full of good people!” He also declared, “I got my first elk about a month ago!” (See the photo below for proof.) Lawrence and three of his bandmates entertained the scores on hand by launching into a medley of his many hits. 

Following his performance, RMEF members watched a live feed of opening night of the National Finals Rodeo from across town at the Thomas and Mack Center.

Yes, day one was one to remember. Bring on day two!

Kristy Titus, Tracy Lawrence with Tracy's first elk


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

RMEF Welcomes Rutting Ridge Cellars as New Conservation Partner

Below is a news release issued by Rutting Ridge Cellars.

Rutting Ridge Cellars is one of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s newest sponsors and licensees. It joins an all-star lineup of other companies that support RMEF including industry leaders such as Cabela's, Bass Pro Shops, Browning, Yamaha, Remington, Bushnell, Realtree and many others.

"RMEF is excited to welcome Rutting Ridge Cellars as our latest partner in wildlife conservation," said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of Marketing. "Through the sale of Rutting Ridge wine to RMEF members and other hunting and wildlife enthusiasts across the nation, we anticipate that this new relationship will be very beneficial to our mission."

Rutting Ridge’s debut wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, comes from California's Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA). This region, located 60 miles east of San Francisco, is impacted by dramatic day-to-night temperature changes of up to 40°F. The result is incredibly ripe fruit that makes a classic wine of great intensity. No longer an AVA made up predominately of growers, Lodi has been making great strides of late by area vintners in their pursuit of producing estate wines.

Bill Newton, Rutting Ridge Cellars' managing partner, noted, "Rutting Ridge Cabernet has been specially selected for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for its ever-pleasing style—one that's ready for drinking now, with great appeal to novice drinkers as well as connoisseurs of wine. It pairs exceptionally well with wild game or red meat. And best of all, for every bottle sold, Rutting Ridge Cellars has pledged to donate $3 to benefit RMEF's wildlife and habitat conservation efforts. We are proud to help support such a worthy cause."

Newton added, "Rutting Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon will make its official debut at RMEF's 2015 Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Expo, December 3-12 in Las Vegas. We will be exhibiting in booth #1003 in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Rutting Ridge wine is sold only direct to the consumer in two-, six-, and 12-bottle packs from our website at www.ruttingridge.com/store."

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 205,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 6.7 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America's hunting heritage. Discover why "Hunting Is Conservation™" at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL-ELK.

About Rutting Ridge Cellars
Rutting Ridge Cellars was founded on the belief that a well-balanced Cabernet Sauvignon is the ideal wine pairing for elk and other wild game. To that end, we created our own brand, Rutting Ridge, and have sourced and purchased a Lodi, Calif., Cabernet especially for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation membership. For every bottle sold, Rutting Ridge Cellars donates $3 to benefit RMEF's wildlife and habitat conservation efforts. For more information or to place an order via our online store, visit www.ruttingridge.com.