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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

RMEF Grants Benefit South Dakota Elk Country

Below is a complete listing of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2016 grants for the state of South Dakota. Find more information here.

Brookings County—Provide scholarship funding to benefit youth from low income families and help provide volunteer training at the Outdoor Adventure Center, a nonprofit organization in Brookings working to provide youth, young adults, active seniors, sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts with education, skills and experience related to "Dakota Heritage” (also benefits Moody, Lake, Codington, Kingsbury and Deuel Counties).

Butte County—Provide funding to assist with improvements to the Center of the Nation Sportsmans Club’s Belle Fourche Shooting Range which is used by various organizations to teach hunter safety and conduct law enforcement training and testing.

Charles Mix County—Provide funding to assist the Platte-Geddes School trap team made up of students in grades six through 12.

Custer County—Provide funding for research designed to monitor cow elk survival and mortality on the Black Hills National Forest by replacing 20-30 collars and increasing the overall sample size from 100 to 110 animals (also benefits Pennington and Lawrence Counties);provide funding for the installation of eight miles of pipeline, 12 stock tanks and two water guzzlers as part of a multi-phase project that, when completed, will provide water to approximately 60,500 acres in the remote Elk Mountain area of the Black Hills National Forest.; provide funding for a display addressing the history of Custer State Park as a wildlife park and a focus of game management and conservation in South Dakota in the remodeled visitors center (previously called the Norbeck Nature Center) as part of a larger outdoor heritage initiative seen by nearly 2,000,000 visitors annually; and provide volunteer manpower from eight RMEF South Dakota chapters plus Wisconsin’s state leadership team who carried out five separate projects in the Jewell Cave area on the Black Hills National Forest. That work includes replacing old fencing with buck and rail fencing to keep livestock out of two different springs and repairing livestock exclosure fencing around three existing guzzlers.

Jerauld County—Provide funding for the Jerauld County Step Outside Youth Outdoor Day  to expose young people to the outdoors through hands-on stations that teach hunting, fishing, trapping, camping skills, GPS skills, game calling and tracking (also benefits Buffalo, Hand, Beadle, Sanborn and Aurora Counties).

Lawrence County—Remove four miles of old fencing to benefit wildlife movement and construct exclosures around two acres of hardwood stands to help recruit new growth on Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-administered lands; provide funding and RMEF volunteer manpower to monitor and repair, as needed, 17 wildlife water guzzlers scattered across the Northern Hills Ranger District on the Black Hills National Forest to assist with the distribution of elk and other wildlife; apply noxious weed treatment across 60 acres of BLM-managed land within the 2002 Jasper Wildfire area; provide funding for the construction of a wildlife watering pond to offer a reliable water source for elk and other wildlife that will also reduce wildlife casualties as elk will no longer be forced to cross a nearby highway to access water; provide RMEF volunteer manpower to clean up a two-mile stretch of Highway 82 plus the parking area at the Eagle Cliffs Trails system within the Black Hills National Forest as part of South Dakota's Adopt-A-Highway program; and provide funds to purchase equipment for the Bullseye 4-H Archery Club which offers youth ages eight to 18 in Butte and Lawrence the opportunity to learn about archery equipment, safety, proper shooting form, scoring and participate in competition.

Lyman County—Provide Torstenson Family Endowment funding to assist the Step Outside 2016 Youth Deer Hunt which introduces novice youth and non-hunting parents to firearm safety, basic deer hunting skills, field dressing and proper care of deer for consumption.

Pennington County—Apply noxious weed treatment to 40 acres along an extensive system of trails and roads within the Elk Creek and Butte Creek watersheds on the Black Hills National Forest to benefit elk and other wildlife; inventory and treat invasive weeds across 400 acres on the Black Hills National Forest and private lands, targeting oxeye daisy and spotted knapweed;  provide funding to purchase equipment for the Black Hills Archery Club which operates in cooperation with Pennington County 4-H.; and sponsor South Dakota Youth Hunting Adventures which provides mentored hunting experiences for youth ages 12-15 from the Rapid City area.

Statewide—Provide funding to expand South Dakota’s Elk Hunting Access Program so more privately-held land within Hunt Unit 3 is available to public hunting.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Time to Turn the Page

Sometimes it's just time to move on. This marks the 506th and final post on this blog.

Here's the deal. Back in September of 2012, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation began a new blog. The goal was to use Elk Tracks as an additional platform to increase outreach by telling stories about anything and everything related to elk, hunting and RMEF's conservation mission.

It turned out to be a smashing success. Some of the posts spelled out direct mission accomplishment in terms of acres, dollars spent and subsequent on-the-ground results while others were merely for the sake of entertainment. A few that come to mind include an artist in the Pacific Northwest who used a welding unit to convert an old John Deere tractor and some rifles into a massive 6,800-pound elk, a tweet posted from an elk-loving insomniac in South Dakota, a new RMEF member who gave his race car an elk-related facelift, and a young father battling brain cancer who wanted to take his son on an elk hunt before his expected passing.

Three years and nine months after launch, Elk Tracks rolled over the one million page view mark. And only eight months later, it topped more than 1.5 million page views.

So if something is successful and continually gaining traction, why "turn the page?" Why pull the plug? Well, because we now have something better. Much better! RMEF recently announced a new online digital hub for all things elk and elk country called the Elk Network. It's a highly visual, user-friendly platform with social media functionality and it's mobile-responsive making for effective viewing on any sized screen, anywhere.” Translation: it's innovative. It's cool. And we think users will agree.

From here on out, posts that would've found a home in Elk Tracks will now be posted directly to the Elk Network. And don't worry. Elk Tracks won't disappear. It'll remain at its current location on the worldwide web to serve as an archive.

Click on the Elk Network logo to go to the site.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

RMEF National Convention Gets Off to a Stirring Start

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation kicked off its 2017 National Convention in Nashville with passion, energy, recognition, celebration and commitment. Members cheered several 2016 milestones including RMEF surpassing one million acres in lifetime public access projects and topping seven million conserved or enhanced acres.

RMEF celebrated the return of elk to nearby West Virginia by honoring former West Virginia governor Ray Tomblin with its Conservationist of the Year Award. Tomblin and his staff provided leadership by overseeing a joint effort with RMEF, the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other partners to return elk to the Mountain State for the first time in 140 years. Former DNR director Bob Fala and DNR Commissioner Kenny Wilson, both RMEF volunteers, accepted the award, as well as Elk Country Partnership Awards, and thanked the RMEF and all others involved in the effort for helping put elk back on their native range.

Bob Fala, RMEF Chief Conservation Officer Blake Henning and Kenny Wilson
(left to right)
Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris received the first-ever Elk Country Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to creating one of North America’s most recognizable outdoor brands, Morris was also honored for his commitment to conservation and assisting RMEF’s mission. Below are some of his remarks.

Johnny Morris (left) and RMEF President/CEO David Allen
“There’s no doubt in my mind Cabela’s wouldn’t have happened, just like Bass Pro Shops wouldn’t have happened, if it weren’t for great conservation and wonderful organizations like the RMEF and all of you in this room. Just like you in this room, my son’s very proud and I’m very proud to be a member of RMEF. I don’t feel I deserve recognition any more than any other members or supporters that couldn’t be here and are members of this world-class organization or any other members or supporters that couldn’t be here tonight that wake up almost every day trying to drive this organization forward. 

Johnny Morris
“I think all of us share something. We’re proud to do this together not because we have to but because we have a lot of pride and we have a lot of confidence that all of the –whether it’s dollars or effort– whatever we are putting into the RMEF is and has historically done a lot of good and it can do a tremendous amount of good for generations to come. Thank you very much. It’s an honor to be with you.”

-Johnny Morris
Bass Pro Shops Founder

Following dinner, Shane Mahoney, the president and CEO of Conservation Visions and also a RMEF member, delivered a stirring and emotional keynote address on the vital importance of conservation, standing up to challenges faced by hunters and hunting, and the relevance and importance of the North American Wildlife Conservation Model. Below are some of his comments.

“It is in the times of greatest challenge that the greatest opportunities present themselves. You need challenge to achieve greatness. This simply is not your daddy’s world anymore. If we (hunters) become too few we will become relevant. We’re seeing vastly changing attitudes toward animals and hunting. Support for hunting cannot be left to memory of those who hunt. 

Shane Mahoney
“I am optimistic because controversies have moved great conservation organizations to look deeply at what hunting has done for animals worldwide. We have locavores. We have people writing books about farm-to-table. We have those seeking organic food. They realize our lifestyle of pushing ourselves (in the wild in pursuit of animals) and harvesting them for good friends and family…they are coming to understand this is something valuable and precious. You don’t go to the grocery store and buy a roast and give it to your neighbor. When you take something wild, the first thing that comes out of your breast is the concept of sharing.

“I am asking the RMEF for a favor. I believe this organization can be the one to take the big steps. We need an organization that others can see and they can follow. People respect and believe in this organization so I ask you…don’t take small steps but take the big steps others are afraid to take.”

-Shane Mahoney
Conservation Visions CEO/President

Recording artists Andy Griggs, Chris Janson and Richie McDonald capped the evening with a spirited guitar pull. The three took turns telling stories, singing songs, poking barbs at each other and interacting with the crowd. They also pulled fellow country music artists Daryle Singletary and Easton Corbin out of the crowd for a closing, impromptu number.

Chris Janson                                                 Andy Griggs                                       Richie McDonald

Andy Griggs, Easton Corbin, Daryle Singletary and Chris Janson
(left to right)
RMEF co-founder Charlie Decker, Johnny Morris and RMEF co-founder Bob Munson
(left to right)

A Road Trip to Pennsylvania Elk Country

Students of all ages love a good field trip. Sixteen students from Green Mountain College (GMC), accompanied by two of their professors, piled into a couple of vans to make the 390-mile trek from their campus in Poultney, Vermont to Pennsylvania’s elk country.

The group applied for and received a grant from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to assist with the costs of the van rental, gas and camping. The goal was for students to receive a first-hand education about elk, elk habitat and elk biology.

“This sponsorship was a fantastic way to expose my college students to elk management in Pennsylvania, as well as meeting several professionals in the field,” said Dr. Valerie Titus, GMC professor.

The following was posted in the GMC Journal:
Sponsored by a generous grant from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Fish and Wildlife Techniques class, led by Dr. Valerie Titus (natural resource management) and Dr. Jim Harding (natural resource management) journeyed to Benezette, Penn., to learn about the Pennsylvania elk herd and the management behind the successful program. Students were guided by Tim Foster, senior regional director for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, who introduced the class to the region’s beautiful elk viewing areas. The class was also fortunate to meet and chat with local biologists and conservation officers on how they work with elk, education, tourism and hunting throughout the year.

“We hope to continue work with RMEF in the future,” added Dr. Titus.

Volunteers Lay Down Fencing to Help Wildlife

It’s old hat for Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteers to gather together to remove old, unfriendly wildlife fencing. Thousands of volunteers have done it all across elk country and that’s made it easier for elk and other wildlife to migrate unimpeded across the landscape. 

A handful of RMEF volunteers recently took part in a fence project of a different type. They rolled up their sleeves in order to lay down 19 miles of seasonal fencing on the 15,206-acre Bridge Creek Wildlife Area in northeast Oregon. 

The area is key wintering range where there are often more than 1,000 elk. It is closed to public access from December 1 to April 15 in an attempt to keep elk on the wildlife area rather than have them migrate further north onto private property. The fence is laid down to reduce or eliminate damage but it is needed in the spring and summer because the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) allows permittee livestock grazing.

Below is an account of the volunteer project.

We met at the small cabin on the wildlife area at 8 a.m. and following a safety briefing and review of the area map, assignments were made and we embarked on the project. Working in pairs, we either moved ATVs or pickups to eliminate double walking fence. We then worked individually laying down the fence (totaling 19 miles). Once completed, we met at the defined central location. We then finished a small section and met again at the cabin for a late lunch and general discussion of the area, additional volunteer opportunities, learned how our efforts potentially helped ODFW secure Pittman-Robertson dollars via grants that are driven by logged volunteer hours. 

Tim Campbell
Pendleton Chapter Chair/Eastern Oregon Mission Team Leader
Drew Nelson, Kevin Drake (ODFW), Rick Ella, Darin Nelson, Tom Baker, Patti Baker, Tim Campbell
(left to right)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wildfire-Scarred Landscape Gets a Helping Hand

Ritter photo
In July of 2007 lightning strikes ignited six wildfires in south-central Idaho and north-central Nevada. Strong winds teamed up with hot, dry conditions to fuel the flames which created the Murphy Complex Wildfire. Together, the wildfires charred an estimated 652,000 acres and caused extensive damage to natural resources including shrub communities that provide vital calving habitat and thermal cover for elk and other big game species.

Fast forward to several years later and the landscape is still in the process of recovery but the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation joined forces with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to help Mother Nature get back on track. In 2014, RMEF supplied funding to grow and plant 20,000 bitterbrush seedlings. Two years later, RMEF funds helped cover the cost of the contract to grow and plant the shrub seedlings. 

In mid-October, 2016, crews hand-planted approximately 193,000 Wyoming big sagebrush seedlings over a 4,700-acre area along the Jarbidge River Canyon in the affected burn area. The project is a continuation of BLM and IDFG efforts that, so far, planted more than 213,000 sagebrush and bitterbrush seedlings on more than 5,400 acres of BLM-administered lands in the wildfire zone. 

The hands-on work is a demonstration of RMEF’s commitment to its conservation mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 487 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Idaho with a combined value of more than $63.5 million. These projects have protected or enhanced 426,900 acres of habitat and have opened or secured public access to 24,147 acres.

Veterans Make Memories, Fill the Freezer

“It is our duty to serve those who serve us.”
-Chris Kyle

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supports the members of our military, their families and our veterans. 

RMEF provided grant funding and volunteer manpower for American veterans to take part in the Base Camp 40, Warriors in the Wild “Seal on the Mountain” elk hunt in 2016, held in the memory of former U.S. Navy Seal veteran and sniper Chris Kyle who part in a BC40 hunt in 2012. The five-day hunts involved five veterans and took place in Colorado. 

Grant funding provided by RMEF not only purchased five custom engraved Weatherby rifles, hunting licenses and the shipment of processed game meat, but it allows Base Camp 40 to get more veterans out on the ground for additional Colorado cow elk hunts, whitetail deer hunts in Kentucky and fishing outings in British Columbia. 

BC40 provides opportunities for veterans to rediscover, heal and reflect. The organization originated in 2011 with cow elk hunts in western Colorado. It expanded in 2014 by offering hunts in Texas, Kentucky, Alabama, additional ranches in Colorado and fishing in British Columbia.

Young Campers Have Fun, Learn about Conservation

More than 60 boys and girls age 11 to 14 recently gathered at a remote ranch in north-central Nevada to take part in a wide range of outdoor activities including hunter education, outdoor safety, conservation, shooting, archery, map reading, plant identification, fishing, basic survival, first aid, laser safe shoot and fly tying.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided a $5,000 grant and was proud to co-sponsor the 6th annual Maison T. Ortiz Youth Outdoor Skills Camp alongside a sizeable group of other conservation groups and businesses. The primary focus of the two-and-a-half-day event near Pyramid Lake is to provide opportunities for those who may not have much if any experience in Nevada’s outdoors. 

In addition to the attendees, nine youth mentors age 13-17 who attended previous camps invited a friend with little to no experience hunting, fishing or taking part in other outdoor activities. RMEF volunteers joined the crew of nearly 100 adults who offered their time and talents. RMEF also assisted with the 2015 event.

See more photos from the 2016 Maison T. Ortiz Youth Outdoor Skills Camp here.

Click on this photo to watch a video

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

'One of My Treasures'

Eugene in the field
We received the photos and letter below from a long-time member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

I thought I would share this artwork of your last Bugle issue's cover (March/April 2017). My 90-year-old father, Eugene F. Bowlin Sr., drew it for me. I love it! It is one of many treasures he has given me over the years!

He built me my first elk bugle and then taught me how to "Speak the language!"

My dad and I elk hunted for years together up until last season!  The photo below of me smooching him is when he handed me down his bow.

Carol Ann Zon
RMEF Member
March-April Bugle magazine cover on the left & Eugene's artwork on the right

Carol and her father Eugene

Friday, February 10, 2017

Call to Action: HB 50 is Gun Control - Urge New Mexico Legislators to Kill It

New Mexico RMEF Members,

Just yesterday we notified you about a pair of bills in the New Mexico legislature that would cripple in-state fundraising efforts by the RMEF (and other non-profits) and crack down on gun transfers. Lawmakers heard your concerned voices but they are not dropping their pursuits. Instead, they are merely altering their tactics.

Their latest amended effort does not address our main fundraising concerns and, to be blunt, amounts to increased gun control restrictions on your firearms. The amended version would prohibit the transfer of a firearm between two parties unless a background check is completed within five days. The only exceptions to this requirement are for transactions between family members, by or to a firearms dealer, by or to a law enforcement agency or by or to a law enforcement officer, member of the armed forces or level-three security guard. No unlicensed person would be allowed to lend or allow another person to use a firearm for a period of more than five days without a background check.

Organizations that award firearms through fundraising events would be required to appear together with every winner of every firearm at a licensed agent to complete the required background check and paperwork.

See the attached version of the amended HB 50 here.

The New Mexico House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to hold its hearing today at 1:30 pm. We just learned the hearing has been pushed back to 3:00 pm and HB 50 has been moved to the bottom of the list. There is still time to make sure the committee members hear your concerns.

Contact them and the bill sponsors below by clicking on their names.

Urge them to defeat this bill now!

Representative Stephanie Garcia Richard          D             Bill Sponsor
Representative Miguel P. Garcia                         D             Bill Sponsor
Representative Gail Chasey                                D             Subcommittee Chair 
Representative Javier Martínez                           D             Vice Chair 
Representative Eliseo Lee Alcon                         D             Member 
Representative Cathrynn N. Brown                     R             Member 
Representative Zachary J. Cook                          R             Member 
Representative Jim Dines                                     R             Member 
Representative Brian Egolf                                   D             Member 
Representative Daymon Ely                                 D             Member 
Representative Nate Gentry                                 R             Member 
Representative Georgene Louis                           D             Member 
Representative Matthew McQueen                      D             Member 
Representative Greg Nibert                                  R             Member 
Representative William "Bill" R. Rehm                  R             Member 


David Allen
RMEF President and CEO

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A New Voice for Montana Sportsmen and Women

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and leaders in the Montana legislature to help re-create the first Montana Sportsmen’s Caucus, which was disbanded a decade ago. The goal of the group is to bring legislative leaders together to learn about issues important to sportsmen and women, work together in a bipartisan manner to address those issues and send a message to the rest of the nation that hunting, fishing and trapping are core values and a way of life in Montana.

The group held its first meeting in February in Montana’s state capitol in Helena. With approximately 60 lawmakers in attendance, the caucus elected leaders and adopted bylaws. Several legislators also talked about a variety of bills they plan to bring to the caucus for consideration including a Constitutional amendment to protect the rights of Montanans to hunt, fish and trap. Other potential bills include accessing federal funds to combat noxious weeds on public lands, public access proposals and legislation to combat aquatic invasive species.

In addition to the RMEF, other groups with representatives in attendance were Ducks Unlimited, the Wild Sheep Foundation, Montana Wildlife Federation, Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, and the Montana Association of Land Trusts.

RMEF is a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation which provides information and guidance to state sportsmen’s caucuses and administers the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses.

 Mark Lambrecht, (RMEF director of government affairs), Caucus co-chair and RMEF member/volunteer
Sen. Jill Cohenour (D-E. Helena). presiding officer Rep. Matt Regier (R-Kalispell),
Zach Widner (CSF) and co-chair Sen. Jedediah Hinkle, (R-Belgrade)
(left to right)
Not pictured is co-chair Rep. Zach Brown (D-Bozeman)

Call to Action: New Mexico Bills Would Impact Fundraising

New Mexico RMEF Members,

There are two companion bills being debated in the New Mexico legislature right now that hamper your rights as a gun owner and severely impact non-profit conservation organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Senate Bill 48 and House Bill 50 would require the transferor and transferee of a firearm to appear together at a firearm dealer to complete the necessary background check and paperwork. RMEF and other organizations host dozens of banquets around the state and award dozens and dozens of firearms to raffle ticket and auction winners. Meeting this requirement would be nearly impossible and extremely expensive as RMEF has only one full-time employee in the entire state.

Currently RMEF delivers firearms from its headquarters warehouse to licensed firearms dealers in the communities where it holds banquets. An individual winning a firearm is then issued proof of ownership and is directed to visit the firearm dealer the next day to complete the background check and required paperwork before taking possession.

Additionally, the bills would prohibit you from selling firearms from your personal collection to any distant relatives, long-time friends or other people without government permission. They would also restrict firearms transfers like gifts, loans or exchanges.

See the text of the bills here: SB 48 and HB 50.

Please take a moment to contact your New Mexico legislators today by going here and urge them to vote against these measures.

Time is of the essence as the next hearing on the legislation is scheduled for Friday, February 10 at 1:30 in room 309 at the Capitol.

Thank you for your attention regarding this important legislative matter.


David Allen
RMEF President and CEO

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Coming Full Circle

Successful hunter in North Dakota
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation seeks to lengthen its stride in better carrying out its conservation mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. We enjoy our work and find great satisfaction in seeking to make a tangible difference for the most majestic of North America's wild creatures, and those of us who appreciate and love to pursue them.

Every so often we get tapped on the shoulder and recognized for those efforts by everyday folks who find success on some of the landscapes positively affected by our work.

For example, the photo to the right was forwarded our way from Byron and Kathy Richard, landowners in North Dakota who opened their private land to public hunters just this past hunting season. The 20,000-acre Beaver Creek public access project, carried out in conjunction with our partners at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, created that state’s largest hunter access tract. The Richards received the photo from a hunter who successfully filled his freezer while hunting on their land. They then sent it to us.

Below is a play-by-play of an elk hunter from Arkansas who had "one of the best experiences" of his life when he took his first bull elk. It happened on land in Idaho that was part of another RMEF land project. Our thanks to Rocky Bellomy for sharing it with us.

I left Arkansas on the seventh of September with two tags and a dream of filling them within the next two weeks. I had studied for months and contacted the local game warden and talked with a couple of friends I have in southern Idaho about the location I was going to hunt. I had rented a trailer and packed it full, been practicing with a homemade elk target to be able to judge distance on a full size elk. I was prepared the best I could be for the trip. It took me a day and a half to get to there and met up with a friend and we headed off into the mountains to the first camp site. Didn’t really unpack anything but my bow and gear and headed off in search to fill my tag. I camped in the first place for two days and was able to fill my mule deer tag on a year and a half old 3x2 buck. He wasn’t a giant deer but mine all the same and I was proud of him. He was the first buck I had killed in three years and the very first that still had velvet on his antlers. 

I switched up location for camp and decided to go lower as the nights were pretty chilly up high in the mountains and we weren’t seeing any elk up high and hadn’t heard any elk bugling except late at night or real early morning. I hunted hard with another friend of mine that had moved to Idaho a few years back for a couple days and we still came up empty-handed and not sighted an elk yet. We started hunting over water holes and wallows that we had found or others told us where they were. I was able to get a spike bull within 72 yards but decided to pass, not sure of the shot. 

For the next four days I kicked myself for not shooting that spike. I had practiced to yardages past that distance and was confident, but for some reason that day it didn’t feel right. The evening of the 14th we decided since the bulls were not bugling we would get our turkey tag and go to another location and shoot a turkey until the bulls started really speaking up. We had moved about an hour away and was setting up camp when we got a phone call that the bulls were fired up and bugling in a location we had been hunting the previous two days. So we loaded up and headed back. 

We arrived there at around 11:30 at night and jumped in bed ready for daybreak. When the alarm went off, we jumped out of bed dressed and ready. The temperature was cold, somewhere around low 30s or high 20s. We stepped outside and sounded a locator bugle and had a response back from three different bulls. We picked a bull and headed out closing the distance fast before day broke and he went silent. The fog was thick at ground level and we had good cover from it to across the open areas to get close. We got within a few hundred yards and hit the cow call and he answered and we moved in. He was halfway up a ridge and in thick cover of oak brush. We were at the edge of the open area and nearly right below him. Shane took the decoy out of his pack and stood it in the edge of the tall grass and made a few cow calls as I moved up the mountain to get closer as he called him down. The bull was having none of it, he would move to an opening on the ledge and watch the cow from above. I am sure he was waiting for the wind currents to shift so he could be assured there was no danger.

We swapped plans and watched him bed down in the oak brush. We knew we had him. Now if we could get close and start cow-calling to bring him out of his bed. Our plan was to walk down a half mile and start up the base of the ridge until we got to his level and then side-hill around until I got close. Shane was to stay back about a hundred yards to call once I was within range and ready. There was a deer trail that was going directly toward where the bull was bedded and I slipped down it for several hundred yards, taking my time and being quiet. The wind had shifted in our favor and was now coming up the hillside as we were slightly above him. I got within about thirty yards and gave Shane the signal to start calling as I readied for the shot. 

The moment the bull heard the cow calling from down the ridge from him he got out of his bed and headed toward the opening to look down the deer trail. I was posted on the side and slightly uphill. I was in shock. I was closer to him than I thought. As he stepped out in the opening at 23 yards I was already at full draw. I steadied the pin behind his near side front shoulder knowing he was quartering to me slightly I tried to get it tight in to the shoulder. I released the arrow and he wheeled and trotted off. I forgot to cow call I was in shock. Shane, on the other hand, was not and started calling to him and watching him through his binos. Shortly after the shot I could hear and see oak brush moving back and forth below me. I was thinking the bull was moving below me back and forth and was trying to keep track of where he was going. 

We got together and talked about what happened. My other friend was watching from the other ridge as the whole thing went down. He came over and told us that he seen several cows run from the oak brush but there was no bull that ran out. That explained all the movement below me, so where was the bull? I started on the blood about a half hour after the shot and found blood within a few feet but it quickly was gone after he had rubbed against an oak brush and smeared it off. I was in despair going back over the shot what I could have done differently. Could I have aimed better, waited for a broadside shot, everything? Shane was without doubt and started moving toward where he seen the bull last in his binos. I was searching for blood with Shane started making cow calls on his diaphragm call and then making weird sounds. I went toward him. He seemed to be confused as to what happened. I figured he found some blood or my arrow or something. He was standing beside my bull which had made it about 75 yards before he went down and slid down the mountain about 40 yards. 

I had a mix of emotions. Just hours before I was worried about taking a turkey since the bulls were not fired up yet. I went from ready to take my first elk, to enjoying the scenery that Idaho offers and was taking several pictures. But everything worked better than I could have hoped for. The cow calling peaked the interest of the bull making him get up and close the distance needed for a clear shot. The wind stayed steady and in our favor and my arrow flew true. 

All this wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the efforts of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and land purchases associated with it. I took my first elk on September 15, 2016, on some land that was purchased by or in conjunction with RMEF funds. I just wanted to show my appreciation for what you do for both the animals we pursue and the hunters who pursue them.


Rocky Bellomy

If you are a landowner or hunter and have a "coming full circle" tale to tell about hunting on land that is part of a past RMEF public access, permanent land protection or habitat stewardship project, we would certainly love to hear about it. Email it along with a few photos to publicrelations@rmef.org.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Urge Lawmakers: 'No' on Public Lands Sale/Transfter & 'Yes' to Active Land Management

RMEF Members,

The sale or transfer of our public lands to state jurisdiction is no longer just water cooler talk. Despite our continuing efforts and those of so many other sportsmen and women to stop it, there are very real debates and proposals taking place in several western state legislatures. There is also some chatter in Washington DC. 

As you know, this is an extremely dangerous slope to go down leading to the distinct possibility of the permanent loss of public access for hunters and others. Additionally, this is a shell game that avoids addressing the vital need for active management of our forests.

Please reach out to your state legislators involved in such issues as well as your federal representatives in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House. Urge them to:
  • Vote against the sale or transfer of our public lands
  • Provide land managers with the tools and direction to carry out active land management
  • Create litigation reform so land management work can go forward without obstructionist lawsuits by environmental groups

Find more information here.

Thank you for your support of our public lands. We need to act now! And not just for elk, elk country and our ability to hunt, but for our children and grandchildren too.


David Allen
RMEF President and CEO

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

RMEF Steps Up to Help Starving Deer in Utah

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is opposed to supplemental feeding except in time of emergencies and when asked for help by a state wildlife agency.

With more than 35 inches of snow on the ground, along with bitter cold temperatures, conditions are threatening the survival of mule deer in Utah’s Bear Lake Valley.

Help for the deer is on is way. On January 12, Utah Department of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) Director Greg Sheehan contacted Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Utah Regional Director Bill Christensen and asked the RMEF to help deliver 12 tons of specially formulated deer pellets developed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. 

UDWR biologists have been monitoring deer and winter range conditions across Utah this winter. Weather conditions have been especially difficulty around Bear Lake where deer are wandering around Garden City looking for something to eat.

“Although the weather has been severe across parts of Utah this winter, the Bear Lake area is the only location where emergency feeding needs to happen right now. We’re prepared to feed deer in other locations, though, if the need arises. These deer are exhausted, confused and without options. They need help,” said Sheehan.

RMEF is opposed to supplemental feeding, except in time of emergencies and when asked for help by the state wildlife agency, but the RMEF was quick to respond to the call for help.

On January 13, after being contacted by Sheehan, Christensen and Regional Chair Ron Camp accompanied Sheehan, biologists and members of other hunting conservation groups to Garden City where they met with Travis Hobbs, a local contractor. 

“Travis has really taken the lead and has been a key leader is watching the deer and keeping the local biologists up to speed, Christensen said. “He’s letting us store 12 tons of these pellets at his Garden City business.” 

“He and his employees are donating their labor and heavy equipment to clear areas where we will feed. We couldn’t have responded this quickly without his leadership. Another local rancher and RMEF member, Clint Kearl, has also plowed areas around his ranch and close to the lake, clearing areas to feed deer. These sportsmen deserve our thanks for helping monitor, spending their time and using their equipment to help the deer,” said Camp.

It’s important to note that people shouldn’t feed deer or other wildlife unless they work with their state wildlife agency. Mule deer can die with a belly full of hay in the winter as their digestive system changes in the winter to accommodate the dry and woody winter range browse. The decision to feed deer in the Bear Lake Valley was made following guidelines in the UDWR’s Emergency Winter Big Game Feeding policy.

Elk and moose in the area are doing okay as they can reach higher and dig deeper for a meal. 

Camp and Christensen helped distribute the first bag of feed and the RMEF committed $10,000 to add to matching funds committed by other hunting conservation groups. 

“A big thanks goes out to our Utah RMEF members who work hard to raise funds to benefit elk and other wildlife, including these mule deer that are in trouble,” said Christensen.

“This is where the tire hits the road. RMEF members make good things happen!’ added Camp.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Call to Action: Colorado Elk are in the Crosshairs

There is a very real movement going on in Colorado by animals rights and environmental groups to place Colorado’s elk herd in the crosshairs by reintroducing wolves. They refer to such efforts as “great,” “germane to the future of Colorado,” and also state “there’s no profound downside and there’s a real, big upside.”

Those of us who witnessed the wolf reintroduction into the Northern Rocky Mountains could not disagree more! Not only do wolves have a very real and measureable impact on elk and other wildlife but those pro-wolf groups change the rules. Once they have their foot in the door via wolf reintroduction, they move the goalposts by ignoring delisting criteria and filing lawsuit after lawsuit causing populations to grow well over objective. 

We saw that in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the Western Great Lakes. Such litigation began in the 2000’s and lawsuits are still pending today. Wolf populations are currently nearly 500 percent above minimum recovery levels in the Northern Rockies and more than 250 percent above objective in the Western Great Lakes.

Now is the time to raise our voices. Contact your state representatives here and let them know how you feel about any possible wolf reintroduction.


David Allen
RMEF president and CEO

Monday, January 9, 2017

Japanese National Wrestling Team Visits RMEF

It’s a long, long way from the Land of the Rising Sun to Big Sky Country. How far exactly? Try more than 5,200 miles! That’s how far the Japanese national high school wrestling team recently traveled to take part in a handful of meets with high school wrestlers in Montana.

The squad of 13 wrestlers, two coaches and a translator also visited the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Elk Country Visitor Center. Accompanied by local wrestlers as well as family members and coaches who served as hosts, the group spent the morning viewing a video presentation about the life and biology of elk, checking out some of the largest elk mounts in the world and experiencing other hands-on exhibits throughout the facility.

Though wrestling is the actual activity that brought the two sides of the globe together, the trip is more about a cultural exchange for all involved.

“What’s really neat about it, it teaches -- you really get some insight about the world,” Big Sky’s Bryant told the Missoulian newspaper. “… It kind of gives you some insight as to what the world’s really like and what we go through. There’s misunderstandings, and there’s thing we learn through our cultures.”

The visitors also enjoyed the wintry weather by playing outside and throwing snowballs at each other. 

After their RMEF visit, they participated in a meet with local high schoolers that evening before traveling to three other Montana destinations for plenty of wrestling and greater opportunities to soak in the American culture.

“You make friends, and these kids get an understanding and the difference of our world in the United States and their world which is a far different culture,” Bryant said."