Judging by the predominance of window decals and bumper stickers the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundatiown is one of the most popular organizations in western Eagle County.
But what exactly is the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation? What does it do and why is it such a popular non-profit?
Four hunters from Troy, Montana founded the organization in 1984, with the intent to ensure a future for North America’s grandest game animal. Their mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and America’s hunting heritage. Since 1984, the group has protected and enhanced more than 6.4 million acres of wildlife habitat. The RMEF also supports hunting heritage programs and helps restore wild elk herds.
The foundation believes that hunting is conservation. Colorado hunters and anglers were among the first crusaders for conservation and the organization is an important conservation leader. There are more than 500 chapters across the country – including the Eagle Valley Chapter.Eagle County has about 750 RMEF members and about 40 percent of those members are women.
Dining for elk
Chapters from across the country host big game banquets to raise money for elk country conservation projects. About 500 of the Eagle Valley chapter will show up for those members show up to the chapter banquet this Saturday, an event that routinely sells out. This year promises to be a good time and the silent auction items are sure to please even the most discriminating hunter – male or female.
“The fastest growing demographic group in hunting right now is the women’s demographic,” said Long. Along with hunting apparel for women and girls, archery and firearms companies are building gender-specific equipment.
The Eagle Valley event will include progressive drawings for a rifle and a bow. The featured rifle a Remington Model 700SPS Camo, .300 WSM. The winner will be entered into a drawing for a premium eight-day Idaho elk hunt for one by B Bar C & Russell Pond Outfitters. The bow is a PSE Special Edition RMEF Dream Season DNA. The winner of prize will be entered into the drawing for a choice of either a Yamaha Viking FI EPS SidexSide or a premium six day Montana archery elk hunt for one by Broken Arrow Lodge. Both winners will be drawn in January of next year. Progressive drawing tickets are $20 each.
The silent auction is one of the valley’s best, according to those to have attended in the past.
“We offer a silent auction raffle where if you bid below the yellow line on the silent auction sheet, you get a free raffle ticket for a special drawing,” said Long. Other banquet activities include live music, kid’s only raffle, game and the popular bottomless beer mug raffle. Anyone who buys or renews an annual membership for only $35 at the banquet receives an annual subscription to of Bugle Magazine, a membership card, decal and a Browning membership knife. There are other memberships available, including sponsor and youth options.
“Last year we broke $100,000 gross for the first time ever and netted a little over $60,000,” said Long of the 2013 effort.
Long said sponsors, donors, members and volunteers are critical to making the event happen. Memberships and tickets for Saturday’s event can be purchased through the web site at www.rmef.org. Those with questions or wanting to volunteer can email Long at firstname.lastname@example.org
Little Known Facts in about North American Elk Hunters
Did you know….
In 1907, only 41,000 elk remained in North America. Today there is more than 1 million elk thanks to the money and hard work invested by hunters to restore and conserve habitat.
In 1937, hunters actually requested an 11 percent tax on guns, ammo, bows and arrows to help fund conservation. That tax has so far raised more than $2 billion for wildlife conservation.
Through donations to groups like RMEF, hunters add $300 million a year to conservation efforts.
North American Elk, or Cervus Elaphus, are split by some biologists into six subspecies:
Rocky Mountain (Rocky Mountain West, now transplanted to other locations) – largest antlers of all subspecies.
Roosevelt’s (Coastal Pacific Northwest) – largest in body size of all subspecies, but not antler size.
Tule (Central California) – smallest body size of all subspecies.
Manitoban (northern Great Plains).
Merriam’s (Southwest and Mexico) - Extinct.
Eastern (east of the Mississippi) – Extinct.
Rocky Mountain Elk Terminology
Bull: Male elk
Cow: Female elk
Calf: Baby elk
Spike: Yearling bull elk
Newborn calf: 35 pounds (16 kg)
Cow: 500 pounds (225 kg) (Tule elk: 300 lbs., Roosevelt’s elk: 600 lbs.) 4 1/2 feet (1.3 m) at the shoulder 6 1/2 feet (2 m) from nose to tail
Bull: 700 pounds (315 kg) (Tule elk: 400 lbs., Roosevelt’s elk: 900 lbs.) 5 feet (1.5 m) at the shoulder 8 feet (2.4 m) from nose to tail
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Colorado Quickfacts
Total membership: 14,704
Supporting members: 11,709
Sponsor members: 374
Family members: 173
Life members: 1,732
Total dollars raised: $20,206,952
Total acres conserved: 409,781
— Information from www.rmef.org