March 5, 2008
Elk Camp Builds Momentum, Eyes Silver Anniversary in ‘09
MISSOULA, Mont.—Like a real elk camp and hunt in wild country, this year’s Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation convention was an experience that left attendees a little tired but a lot inspired—and, more than ever, looking forward to next year.
The 25th Annual Elk Camp & Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Expo is tabbed for March 5-8, 2009, in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Our Silver Anniversary Elk Camp will be very special. Twenty-five years is a milestone opportunity to celebrate and showcase the Elk Foundation’s heart and soul—its volunteers and its mission—and we’ll do it in a big way,” said David Allen, president and CEO of the Elk Foundation.
By all measures, Elk Camp 2008, held in Reno, Nev., for the third straight year, built strong momentum for Fort Worth.
Libby, Montana’s Charlie Decker, an Elk Foundation founder who has attended all 24 Elk Camps, said, “This was the best Elk Camp I can recall in a lot of years.”
Record amounts were raised for conservation through auctions, raffles and drawings. More sponsors than ever before helped underwrite festivities. And Volunteer Appreciation Night drew record attendance.
Allen and Decker agreed that mood and energy were high throughout the week. Baxter Black, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Big & Rich performed. At evening banquets, a tribute to the passion of U.S. servicemen and women, the words of a young widow determined to fulfill her late husband’s conservation wishes, and the bugles of a five-year-old world champion elk caller moved teary eyed audiences to standing ovations.
The RMEF Dickies/CamoWest World Elk Calling Championships saw new champs from five states and global attention via feature coverage in “The New York Times.”
Through it all, the steady backdrop was the Elk Foundation’s historic conservation success. In 2007, the organization enjoyed a monster year on the ground, enhancing more acres of elk habitat and completing more land protection projects than anytime in its history. The Elk Foundation’s lifetime total impact now tops 5.2 million acres.
Mike Huempfner of Bozeman, Mont., summed it up by saying, “Wow, what an awesome experience! I am already gearing up for Fort Worth.”
Here’s a roundup of highlights from Elk Camp 2008:
BY THE NUMBERS
$1,602,182 Proceeds from auctions (new record)
$172,000 Top bid, New Mexico Big Game Package Permit
$125,000 Top bid, Arizona Special Elk Permit
$104,450 Total sales at RMEF Trading Post
$95,000 Top bid, Nevada Wildlife Heritage Elk Tag
$62,470 Proceeds from Rifle Raffle (new record)
$25,000 Top bid, “Tulip” the mule
$19,245 Proceeds from Quick Raffles and drawings
$16,000 Top bid, elk ivory pendant
15,100 Total attendance
$12,000 Top bid, 2003 Harley-Davidson motorcycle
1,338 New members, including 18 Life Members
950 Attendance at Volunteer Appreciation Night (new record)
554 Total booths/exhibits
13 Presenting Sponsors including Boyt Harness Company, Browning, Brunton, Budweiser, Cabela’s, CamoWest, Dickies, Hunter’s Specialties, North American Hunter, Realtree, Roper Apparel & Footwear, SFI-Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and United Country Real Estate (new record)
Wallace Fennell Pate Wildlife Conservation Award
Presented to the Lewis family—Tom, Debbie and daughter Annie—of Great Falls, Mont. The Elk Foundation’s highest honor recognizes those who have made contributions of lasting significance to the benefit of elk, other wildlife and their habitat across North America.
Presented to Bryan and Jacque Stark of Tucson, Ariz., Curtis Christiansen of Giddings, Texas, Frank McMahon of Olympia, Wash., and Gib Kleckner of Madison, Wis. These awards recognize Elk Foundation volunteers for standout contributions of time and energy toward ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat.
Elk Country Awards
Presented to Jeff Bohler, Umpqua National Forest, for his individual dedication to elk habitat conservation in Oregon; and Forest Service Region 1 and Dakota Prairie Grasslands in recognition of the Elkhorn Ranch project in North Dakota
2007 Partnership Awards
Presented to Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest for completing 98 elk habitat projects; Umatilla National Forest for completing 82 elk habitat projects last year in Washington and Oregon; and White River National Forest for completing 66 elk habitat projects last year in Colorado.
WORLD ELK CALLING CHAMPIONS
Six new champs were crowned in the RMEF Dickies/CamoWest World Elk Calling Championships, including: PeeWee Division, Schafer Bungay, Kalispell, Mont.; Youth Division, Gregory Hubbell Jr., Belmont, Calif.; Voice Division, Michael James Hatten, Elko, Nev.; Women’s Division, Misty Waggener, Sandpoint, Idaho; Men’s Division, Greg Hubbell, Belmont, Calif.; Professional Division; Joel Turner, Eatonville, Wash.
NEW BOARD MEMBERS
Six new volunteers for the Elk Foundation board of directors began their terms at Elk Camp, including Horace Smith Jr., Daytona Beach, Fla.; Mary Webster, Wayzata, Minn.; Richard C. “Buck” Marr, Kila, Mont.; Keith Ward, Missoula, Mont.; Fred C. Bryant, Kingsville, Texas; and Lee Swanson, Cross Plains, Wis.