It Takes a Village
By Jim and Cindy Neufeld, Lincoln County Chapter, Oregon
Last fall, RMEF’s Lincoln County Chapter asked if we would help take Chip Madden—a 15-year-old who survived a brain tumor—on his first elk hunting trip through the Outdoor Dream Foundation. Chip, who hails from Sandy Springs, Georgia, has hunted deer and small game since he was 10 years old. But an animal the size of an Oregon Roosevelt’s elk was beyond his comprehension.
Chip requested he stay at an elk camp rather than at a motel. We knew the hunt would take place at the ranch of Ben and Debbie Hogevoll, so we set out to find a campsite nearby. We discovered the Elks Lodge #1664 of Toledo owned a campground on the Siletz River, which would be ideal. When we inquired with the Elks about it, they obliged by offering the entire grounds and the clubhouse to us at no charge.
As the hunt drew near, we rounded up other RMEF volunteers to help set up a 14-foot by 16-foot canvas tent with a stove and a table to serve as our dining room. We brought our motor home and borrowed another RV to house Chip and his party. Swede French, who serves on the RMEF board of directors, and his wife Linda brought their camp trailer, along with their son and his family who were visiting from Germany.
Chip, his father Ken and a family friend joined us Monday, October 15. The next morning we worked out the logistics and by late that afternoon, the hunt was on. Chip joined up with his guides, the Hogevolls, and right at dusk had his sights on a big 6x6 elk. Primed and ready, Chip took a single shot and had himself a bull of trophy proportions. To say that we were all elated was an understatement!
The group spent Wednesday morning taking care of the kill. We took the meat to Oregon Coastal Cutters for processing. Owners Eric and Cindy Clark arranged for packaging and shipping the meat east, graciously donating most of their services. Then we visited the taxidermist, making arrangements for the mount to be finished and shipped by early March 2013.
Thursday brought a whole new adventure for Chip, when he was treated to a salmon fishing trip on the Siletz River with guide Bob Spelbrink. We all pitched in to help Chip land his limit for the day, which totaled nine salmon weighing 20 pounds or more each. Another undreamed-of success for our Georgia sportsman!
We wrapped up the event Friday evening with a barbeque. About 75 people, all RMEF volunteers and their families, came to eat elk burgers and venison sausages and share Chip’s victory. It was the perfect way to wrap up a wonderful week of making new memories and friendships. Thanks to everyone who helped make this dream hunt happen for a kid who truly earned it.