By Bob Dice, Asotin Creek Wildlife Area Manager
NEVADA—Northern Pike were the required catch and keep of the day on June 7, 2008, during the Ely Chapter’s Northern Pike Fishing Tournament. The event was held just outside Ely on Comins Lake at the Steptoe Wildlife Management Area, a 6,400-acre property RMEF helped the Nevada Division of Wildlife acquire in 1999. More than 30 boats participated in the tournament, raising more than $2,500 for Nevada’s elk and other wildlife. Ely Chapter volunteers hosted a barbeque and raffle at Ely City Park after the event. Prizes included: first place (heaviest pike)—Ruger M77R 280 cal. rifle; second place (most pike)—Leupold VXIII 4.5-14X40mm rifle scope; and third place (second heaviest pike)—“Headed High” bronze. Aptly named Ely resident Fred Fisher (center), flanked by Ely Chapter co-chair Ross Sanborn (left) and chair Mike Simon (right), took both second and third places at the event.
WISCONSIN—Hardy volunteers from across the state braved icy rains and snow on April 25-26, 2008, to hunt for shed antlers in the Clam Lake area of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. It was here that the Elk Foundation helped the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reintroduce elk to the state in 1995. For the past two springs volunteers have gathered sheds, some that were later crafted into custom knife handles by Arbor Forge artist Karl Zimmerman. He created 27 knives out of antlers found in 2007, many of which were then sold as raffle items at this year’s Wisconsin big game banquets, raising $6,000 in 2008.
WISCONSIN/ILLINOIS—On July 19, 2008, volunteers from Wisconsin’s Des Plaines River Chapter traveled to the Wisconsin/Illinois state line to join Bass Pro Shops in promoting RMEF and Elk Country Conservation Month at Bass Pro’s Gurnee, Illinois, megastore. During the month of July, customers at Bass Pro Shops across the country made a $2 donation to the RMEF, which entered them into a sweepstakes to win a Montana Rifle or Archery Elk & Deer Combo Hunt for two, a $1,000 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card, a $500 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card or an RMEF banquet-edition knife. For the second year in a row, the Des Plaines River Chapter manned the outdoor grill and hosted the Gurnee store’s outdoor fishing pond—baiting hundreds of nightcrawlers for young anglers throughout the day. After a busy day at the grill, Des Plaines River Chapter committee member Jack DeRoiser (right), who along with Codi Ann Smith cooked up hundreds of brats and dogs said, “Many of our customers were asking for elk meat!” This didn’t deter anyone, however. By 4 p.m. all the dogs and brats were long gone.
PENNSYLVANIA—Following a groundbreaking ceremony on September 25, 2008, construction began on a new Elk Country Visitor Center in north-central Pennsylvania. The facility, to be the largest elk watching and conservation education center in the eastern United States, is a public-private partnership between the commonwealth and RMEF. The 8,400-square-foot “green” building will include interpretive exhibits, wildlife trails, viewing blinds and parking for cars and buses. The center will sit along the Elk Scenic Drive, a 127-mile corridor passing through Cameron, Clinton, Clearfield, Centre and Elk counties. Construction is expected to be completed in fall 2009.
MONTANA—Wildfires and drought kept most folks out of Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness during the summer of 2007, but for some it was worth the wait. The women who purchased the Montana Trails Angels Pack Trip at RMEF’s 2007 Elk Camp finally got to hit the trail August 24-28, 2008, for, quite ironically, five days of cold weather and wet clothes. But they also enjoyed plenty of beautiful scenery, high mountain lake fly fishing, good food and horses, laughter and jokes and, best of all, new friendships among women that share a passion for elk country. Rocky Heckman of Montana Safaris donated and guided the pack trip. Pictured from left to right are: Diane Pisano, Baltimore, MD; Michelle the camp cook; Diana Arbogast, Sublette Chapter, Pinedale, WY; Cherie Rhoades, Golden Spike Chapter, Ogden, UT; Jill Tonn, Wyoming regional director; Lynn Pisano Pedigo, Habitat Partner, Conifer, CO; and Cindy Stevens, Big Horn Basin Chapter, Thermopolis, WY.