All Heart in North Dakota
By Alex Tenenbaum, Bugle Intern
Some folks don’t let anything get in their way. Rick Krump is one of them. So is Jeff Bezdicek. As Elk Foundation volunteers in North Dakota, both of these men stand as sentries for elk and elk country. Krump recently assumed the responsibilities of ticket chair after serving on the Bois-de-Sioux Chapter. Bezdicek took the reins as the chair the Bismarck Chapter after four years as the ticket chair there.
The thing of it is, Bezdicek is paraplegic, and Krump is quadriplegic.
“People from all walks of life volunteer, and there’s a sacrifice for everyone who gives their time,” says North Dakota regional director Rod Gilmore. “But in facing the challenges that these two individuals face, and still doing so much for conservation, it shows how good these two really are.”
For both men the RMEF started out as a social thing. The banquets and meetings were a great opportunity to meet many good people, but neither of them could just leave it at that. These guys have a passion for wildlife, hunting and conservation, and they began pestering fellow committee members with a phrase that is the backbone of RMEF: “Hey, if you need any help, let me know.” That sealed it.
Krump hasn’t been able to hunt since 1983, when a diving accident left him paralyzed, but he still remembers the excitement of the pursuit. “I used to like being in the woods bowhunting,” he says. “You’d hear a squirrel and get all antsy, thinking it was a deer.”
Once he hunted elk, back in the 1970s in Colorado. It was an experience that stirred him to the core. “They’re such majestic animals,” Krump says. “I mean their speed, their size, their antlers. They’re simply unmatched.”
Krump’s passion for elk quickly encompassed a passion for people as he got more involved with his chapter.
Bezdicek’s first elk hunt still lies ahead of him. After a roll-over accident in 1989 rendered him paraplegic, he took to hunting deer from the window of his pickup or from the golf cart he drives around on his family’s farm. While he loves the sport, he says there’s more at stake when it comes to land and wild places.
“The vast space is so quiet and peaceful. It reminds us of what it used to be like,” Bezdicek says. “We need to make sure it’s around for everybody, for future generations to enjoy.”
With Krump’s passion for people and Bezdicek’s heart for the land, these men have poured themselves into RMEF, spending countless hours on the phone, raising funds and organizing events.
Though their motives may differ and neither man fancies himself an elk hunter, these two volunteers stand as a testament to the motivating power of RMEF’s mission. One a conservationist. One a humanitarian. One a hunter. One who hasn’t hunted in decades. Both united. Both fighting tooth and nail for elk.