Charlie Barnes: Working Tirelessly for Elk
By Ryan Grove, Bugle Intern
Golden aspen leaves shook in the dry New Mexico breeze, vibrant, even against the deep blue of the sky. A young Charlie Barnes shook, too—although he tried his best not to—and the breeze had nothing to do with it.
Ten yards away a bull elk, aggravated by Charlie’s bugling, turned its aggression to a pine sapling. Branches splintered as the bull furiously raked its antlers along the sapling’s trunk. Droplets of pinesap clung to the polished ivory tips, and the smell of crushed pine needles permeated the air. His aggression spent, the bull sauntered off without presenting a shot. At 100 yards he stopped and turned, letting loose a bloodcurdling bugle.
“I’ll never forget that moment,” Barnes says.
Since that day, Barnes’s life has taken some interesting turns. He’s played drums and performed lead vocals in a country rock band that toured through nearly every western state. He’s been part of the hunting show, “Gone Huntin’ Safaris,” and circled the globe in pursuit of game. Currently he resides in Trophy Room, Texas, and runs a division of a plumbing company. But his love for elk and elk country has never waned.
About 20 years ago a postcard arrived in the mail from the RMEF, and without hesitation Barnes joined. “I knew right away that it was something special,” he says.
Now a life member, Barnes serves on the North Texas Chapter committee as the hunt coordinator. He also donates countless hours to other organizations including the Dallas Safari Club, Mule Deer Foundation, Safari Club International and Boone and Crockett Club, although he says he probably logs the most hours for RMEF.
According to Michael Gookins, Texas regional director, Barnes’s dedication to RMEF and his passion for elk country are never far from the surface.
“He’s genuine. He truly believes in what RMEF does, and he draws other people to him,” Gookins says.
For the last two years, Barnes has put his charisma to work for the RMEF during Bass Pro Shop Conservation Month. Every weekend in August, he can be found in the a Bass Pro store representing the Elk Foundation in his custom-built booth.
“I built the booth just for RMEF,” he says, “and I’ll pack that thing anywhere they ask me.”
He’s not kidding—Barnes and his booth have represented RMEF all across Texas, from PBR events to fishing shows, and the Elk Foundation could not ask for a better advocate.
“Charlie is tireless when it comes to elk and conservation. He’s the kind of guy that always gives and never takes,” says North Texas Chapter co-chair Mike Burkett, adding that Barnes is greatly admired by his fellow volunteers.
“One hundred years from now, some kid will hear a wild elk bugle, and it won’t matter if they don’t know about RMEF or they don’t know about me. But they will have that opportunity,” Barnes says. “That’s what drives me.”