By Jim Rosa, Tri State Chapter Chair
When I visit donors, members and other outdoorsmen and women, the first question they ask is: “So where have you been elk hunting?” Imagine the surprise on their faces when I tell them, “I’ve never hunted elk.” The next question is always, “How did you become a chapter chairman if you have never been elk hunting?” The answer I give them is I’m still waiting to be selected for a South Dakota elk tag.
It all started 13 years ago when I was deer hunting in the Black Hills. We were driving down a little dirt road when about 30 cows, calves and spikes ran across right in front of us. I thought, Wow, what amazing animals. I need to hunt them! So I started applying for South Dakota resident-only elk tags. It usually takes more than 10 years of preferences to draw a tag.
In the meantime, about eight years ago, an RMEF chapter started up in my hometown of Brandon, South Dakota. I received an invitation to their banquet, which got me thinking: My children are getting older. I have some free time. And the most important thought: I am going to draw an elk tag and have never been elk hunting. I don’t even know anyone who elk hunts. What better way to meet people who have hunted elk, and could teach me, than by joining the Elk Foundation?
I called the original chairman, Brian Heidbrink of the Tri State Chapter and asked if they needed any help. Of course we all know the answer to that question. Yes, we could use another volunteer.
The first year, I only assisted at the banquet. The second year, I became the membership chair. During that time I learned a lot about RMEF and the great work it does. I also became a Life Member. How can I convince someone to become a Sponsor or Life member if I’m not? (Put your money where your mouth is).
In 2009, Brian Bertsch, the chairman from the previous year, had to resign due to family and business responsibilities. His duties were then passed to me. I hope I can fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to me as well as our former chairmen.
So, to the elk hunters and non-elk hunters who volunteer to help raise money for RMEF: Keep up the good work, and sooner than later all of the non-elk hunters will have the opportunity to be elk hunters along with our children and grandchildren!