MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will dole out more than $40,000 in cash, hunting gear and other prizes when the RMEF World Elk Calling Championships, presented by Sportsman’s Warehouse, take place in Park City, Utah, on July 22-23, 2021.
“We are excited to welcome back the best elk callers in the world,” said Riza Lesser, RMEF managing director of marketing. “We witnessed some outstanding and dramatic head-to-head competitions the last several years and expect more of the same come July.”
The bracketed competition will take place at the Canyons Village during the four-day RMEF Mountain Festival, presented by YETI. Competitors will face off in in six different divisions: professional, men’s, women’s, voice, youth (11-17 years of age) and pee wee (10 and under).
The field includes a number of past champions including 10-time individual winner Corey Jacobsen from Donnelly, Idaho, and two-time defending women’s champ Marisa Pagano of Lemhi, Idaho. Past men’s champions Jermaine Hodge (2019) and Matt Toyn (2018) jumped up to the professional division to try to take down Jacobsen.
New in 2021, once the field is narrowed down to the round of eight in both the professional and men’s divisions, the format will switch to double-elimination. The other four divisions will remain single elimination from start to finish.
Randy Newberg will serve as emcee. Newberg is an avid elk hunter, strong advocate for public lands and public access issues as well as a RMEF volunteer, life member and former board member.
There are no entry fees and the competition is open to any qualifying person. Go here to view the rules and register. All contestants must pre-register by Wednesday, July 14, 2021 at 5 p.m. (MDT). Admission both days is free to the public.
In addition to Sportsman’s Warehouse, other WECC sponsors include Browning, Eberlestock, Gerber, HHA Sports, Hoyt Archery, Leupold, Montana Decoy, Nosler, Schnee’s, Swagger and Traeger.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 37 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 231,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8.1 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.
Conservation is defined as the planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction or neglect.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, supported by hunters, provides funding for conservation in the form of forest thinning, prescribed burns, noxious weed treatments and many other active forest management methods that benefit elk and other wildlife.
But what about environmental groups, many of which are anti-hunting?
Environmentalism is defined as advocacy for the preservation of the natural environment. Preservation itself often refers to a hands-off approach or preventing any type of management activity.
In some places, that may make sense…like backcountry wilderness areas or other sensitive locations.
But there are millions of acres of public forest land at risk of catastrophic wildlife because they’re burdened with overgrown tree stands and decaying deadfall due to decades of fire suppression. Those conditions also choke out the growth of native grass and vegetation on the forest floor, so critical for wildlife forage.
Environmental groups fuel their agendas and pad their bottom-lines by filing multitudes of lawsuits to halt planned active forest management.
Here is one such example.
In west-central Montana, where RMEF completed nearly 30 habitat enhancement projects, a collaborative of conservationists, government representatives, lumber industry and other locals planned what they called the Stonewall Vegetation Project.
Relying on science, the goal was to treat unnaturally overgrown and dead stands to reduce the risk of destructive wildfires and enhance wildlife habitat.
Two anti-management environmental groups, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council, did not take part in collaborate discussions but then filed suit claiming the project would endanger Canada lynx and grizzly populations.
A judge instituted an injunction and downplayed the risk of imminent fire activity.
Just two months later, lightning sparked an 18,000-acre wildfire that scorched the entire project area, closed forest lands and triggered evacuations.
A Forest Service report later showed the litigating groups filed for and received more than $100,000 in reimbursed attorney fees, paid for by taxpayer dollars and at the expense of the forest and wildlife.
The Forest Service since revised the project but the same two environmental groups filed yet another lawsuit, this time in late 2020.
Is that conservation?
Generating crucial funding for conservation, managing wildlife populations and valuing wildlife species…all highlight how Hunting Is Conservation.
An international team of 92 scientists and conservationists joined forces to create the first-ever global atlas of ungulate (hoofed mammal) migrations.
“A global migration atlas is urgently needed because there has never been a worldwide inventory of these phenomenal seasonal movements,” said lead author Matthew Kauffman, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Wyoming. “As landscapes become more difficult to traverse, the maps can help conservationists pinpoint threats, identify stakeholders and work together to find solutions.”
The atlas provides detailed maps of the seasonal movements of herds worldwide. The maps will help stakeholders like governments, Indigenous peoples, communities, planners and wildlife managers identify current and future threats to migrations and create conservation measures to sustain them.
“The same sort of problems that ungulates in Montana and North America face like fences, highways and expanding human development are playing out on a global scale in a huge way,” said Mark Hebblewhite, professor of ungulate ecology in the University of Montana’s Wildlife Biology Program. “We’re trying to raise awareness at a global level of the issues they face and also that we need new international guidance.”
The effort builds on previous conservation successes made possible by migration mapping. Around the world, actions such as protected-area expansion, road-crossing structures and working-lands conservation initiatives have been catalyzed by tracking the actual migration routes of the herds. The scientists and conservationists involved in the initiative hope that detailed maps of migrations around the world will spark similar conservation actions to sustain wildlife migrations.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is not currently a part of this specific effort but previously supported similar research such as Kauffman’s groundbreaking Wyoming Migration Initiative. Additionally, RMEF currently hosts Invisible Boundaries, a highly interactive display that demonstrates the year-round migration patterns of different elk herds across the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
“In some ways, Montana and Wyoming really are leading the world in how to conserve migratory ungulates,” Hebblewhite said. “Montana is already undertaking a lot of conservation work to understand the needs of their migratory ungulates. But even in places like the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, there’s continued threats and continued risks to losing migrations to expanding human development.”
The all-new Bog DeathGrip Ultralite Tripod mount provides a lightweight, solid rest for your next hunt.
Thanks to its magnesium construction, the mount weighs in at less than a pound.
A non-marring rubber jaw insert protects and cradles your weapon hands-free. It’s compatible with sporter rifles, quad-rail AR platforms and crossbows.
The quick-adjust clamping lever provides a secure hold in seconds with smooth rotation.
The DeathGrip UltraLite mounts to any Arca-Swiss Tripod Head or you can remove the adapter to reveal ¼-inch or 3/8-inch threaded holes to mount your own tripod head plate or simply thread onto a tripod center post.
When people think of elk hunting, few imagine sitting in a ground blind. However, it can be a great tool for hunting water holes in hot weather or travel corridors where you know you should sit and wait.
If you’ve never hunted elk from a blind, you’re missing a great chance to get up close and personal with the herd. And Bog gear’s new Grave-Digger 4-hub ground blind is just the blind to get you there.
At only 25 pounds, it comes with a backpack for easy transport and set up takes only a few minutes. Top and bottom loops make brushing in the blind easy, while heavy duty stakes with tie downs afford solid anchor points.
Bog’s unique design fits up to four hunters and allows for a 360-degree view. The camo curtain windows with silent track retention system allow you to see the elk, but they can’t see you.
The 300 denier (den-yer) oxford fabric material is tough, UV protected and features Realtree Escape to help it blend in. It has a water resistant polyurethane coating to keep out the elements as you stay dry inside.
A double-width door and an asymmetrical shape allows shooters to stand, while a silent zipper system keeps noise to a minimum.
This fall, stay warm, stay hidden and get closer with Bog Gear’s new Grave Digger 4-Hub Ground Blind.
Below is a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds interested Wisconsin hunters to apply for a 2021 elk tag by May 31.
Each spring, the DNR accepts applications for a once-in-a-lifetime elk harvest tag for the fall hunting season. Collaborative reintroduction efforts have grown Wisconsin’s elk population enough to sustain an annual hunting season since 2018, and hunters with elk tags have had a 93% harvest success rate. The DNR anticipates herd growth again this year.
Last year, Jed Becker, of Dane County, was one of five state applicants chosen to pursue an elk during the 2020 season. It was Becker’s first elk hunt, and he says the experience built community and camaraderie.
“I was excited to dive in and start planning for the hunt,” Becker said. “I leaned on friends, family, my guide and a couple of Wisconsin elk hunters from the prior year for advice and direction. It all paid off when we were able to harvest a dominant bull. My adrenaline spikes every time I tell the story or think back to the days we spent scouting and strategizing.”
Hunters can apply by logging on to their Go Wild account or visiting a license agent. The fee is $10 and drawing results will be available in mid-June.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation also sells raffle tickets for one bull tag for $10 each, and there is no limit to the number of raffle tickets an individual can purchase. Proceeds from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation raffle and $7 from each DNR tag application go to elk management and research in Wisconsin. Raffle details will be announced at a later date.
“Hunter’s dollars go right back into supporting elk management,” said Josh Spiegel, a DNR Wildlife Biologist in Sawyer County. “During the first three hunting seasons, applicants generated over $600,000 to support the health and growth of the herd.”
These funds are already enhancing elk habitat, benefiting the elk herd and many other wildlife species that share habitat with elk.
RMEF provided funding and volunteer manpower to support the successful restoration of elk to their historic range in 1995 and additional subsequent restoration efforts since then.
(Photo source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/Jed Becker)
Below is a news release from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced that it will begin a multi-year elk calf survival monitoring project in the Blue Mountains.
WDFW biologists will attempt to capture and radio-collar 125 elk calves, starting in mid-May, to monitor their survival and determine causes of death through the following year.
“This is a unique project to help us determine the primary causes of death for elk calves in the Blue Mountains,” said Anis Aoude, WDFW game division manager. “When a radio collar puts out a mortality signal, it’ll serve as a trigger for our biologists to quickly get out and determine the cause.”
The Blue Mountains elk herd plays an important role in this region’s ecosystems and provides the public with hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities. It initially declined below the population objective of 5,500 elk following a harsh winter in 2017 and was still estimated at 25% below objective in 2019. The population trended upward the following year but was found well below objective again in 2021.
WDFW reduced antlerless hunting opportunities beginning in 2017 to aid in population recovery, but department biologists believe a low number of calves surviving to one year of age may be the primary factor limiting population recovery. The study will help determine if this is the case, and if so, what is causing it.
The elk calves will be captured and radio-collared using veterinarian-developed guidelines. The operation will take place in the northern Blue Mountains between Dayton and Asotin Creek.
A new study shows elk, unlike some other wildlife species, don’t always follow the same migration track year after year. It depends on what they see and what’s available to eat.
Elk wearing GPS collars in Wyoming employed what’s referred to as a ‘win, stay, lose-switch’ strategy. In other words, if they found good, green forage in the spring and summer, they were more likely to return the following year. However, if they did not like what they found and had a sub-par experience, they went elsewhere.
Mule deer and moose were more predictable with a greater tendency to stick to their usual routes.
Given the elk’s tendency to change things up, researchers determined the importance of conserving landscapes in ways to ensure animals retain access to large areas.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation did not provide funding directly to this study but did help support some of the data collection that went into it through the Wyoming Migration Initiative and/or previous studies by other researchers.
Below is a news release from theIdaho Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Statewide survival of collared mule deer fawns and elk calves was above average through the end of April. Fish and Game biologists will continue monitoring through May, but traditionally less than 5 percent of the mortalities occur after April.
“In years with milder winters, like this one, we tend to see the number or mortalities drop off in May,” said Rick Ward, Deer and Elk Program Coordinator. “While we anticipate we will see some additional mortality by the end of the month, the statewide survival of mule deer fawns and elk calves is likely to end up being above average this year, barring an unusual event.”
Fish and Game crews and volunteers trap fawns and calves during winter and fit them with telemetry collars that allow biologists to track the young animals through their first winter and early spring.
Statewide, 77 percent of collared elk calves and 64 percent of mule deer fawns survived through the end of April. That compares with 77 percent and 65 percent through the same period in 2020. The final numbers for 2020 (through the end of May) ended up above-average at 73 and 63 percent.
Fish and Game has been monitoring winter survival of fawns for 23 years. During that time, the average survival of fawns has been 57 percent. If, as anticipated, survival in 2021 continues to track similarly to 2020, it would mark two years of above-average survival for mule deer fawns statewide, which means mule deer herds are growing.
“Our herd composition surveys last fall were limited to eastern Idaho, but showed us encouraging fawn/doe ratios, and in some cases they were very high, which means we had a good crop of fawns going into the winter,” Ward said. “Fawn weights, which indicate how likely they are to survive winter, were high in many places in southern Idaho when we captured and collared fawns in December and January, and we have so far observed above-average survival. These are the conditions that lead to herd growth.”
Ward added that survival of fawns throughout the state is not uniform, and that it ranged from 50-85 percent in 2021, depending on where the fawns were collared.
Elk have not been trapped and collared for as long as mule deer, and elk calves typically survive at a higher rate than mule deer fawns. Since researchers began collaring elk calves in 2014-15, survival has ranged from a low of about 52 percent in 2016-17 to a high of 84 percent in 2014-15.
How the numbers compare to recent years
Through May 1, 64 percent of collared fawns and 77 percent of collared elk calves were still alive. Here’s how that compares to recent years. The final survival numbers (through May 31) for each year are included in parentheses.
2019-20: Deer 65 percent and elk 77 percent, (Final 63 and 73 percent)
2018-19: Deer 46 percent and elk 77 percent (Final 42 and 69 percent)
2017-18: Deer 61 percent and elk 72 percent (Final 57 and 66 percent)
2016-17: Deer 34 percent and elk 67 percent (Final 30 and 52 percent)
(Photo sources: Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife)
Below is a news release from North Carolina State University.
A new survey led by researchers from North Carolina State University found that the future of hunting in the United States might look different than it has in the past.
In The Journal of Wildlife Management, researchers reported findings from a nationwide survey of college students’ interest and participation in hunting. They found current, active hunters were more likely to be white, male and from rural areas, and to have family members who hunted. But they also found a group of potential hunters – with no hunting experience but an interest in trying it – who were more diverse in terms of gender, race and ethnicity.
“There are a lot of potential hunters out there who look nothing like current hunters, suggesting there are many different pathways into hunting,” said study co-author Lincoln Larson, associate professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at NC State. “We are working to find messages and strategies that resonate with new and diverse groups.”
In the study, researchers surveyed 17,203 undergraduates at public universities in 22 states from 2018 to 2020 to understand college students’ perspectives on hunting. Recruiting new hunters has become a priority for state wildlife agencies as declines in hunting participation have also meant a reduction in a vital source of funding for agencies’ operations: revenue from hunting licenses and excise taxes on hunting gear and ammunition.
“For nearly 100 years, hunting and angling have combined to provide a majority of wildlife conservation funding in the United States,” Larson said. “Without people participating in these activities, our current conservation model won’t work. By helping college students connect with public lands and wildlife, we can create a more sustainable source of funding into the future.”
They found 29 percent of all students in the survey had hunted at some point in the past, and another 11 percent had accompanied a hunter in the field. The biggest predictor of whether a student hunted was having an immediate family member who also hunts.
When they sorted students into categories of active, potential, lapsed and non-hunters, they found approximately 26 percent of students were active hunters. They were 84 percent white, 74 percent male, and many were from rural hometowns. In addition, most active hunters had immediate family members who also hunted, and just 7 percent reported no social support for hunting.
In comparison, the largest group of college students were non-hunters, at 50 percent. The smallest group, at 3 percent, were lapsed hunters. Twenty percent of students were potential hunters, which meant they said they might try it once, or they might hunt rarely or regularly in the future.
Potential hunters were a more diverse group compared to active hunters. Forty-seven percent were female, and 38 percent identified as either Black or African-American, Hispanic or Latinx, Asian, American Indian or other.
Forty-three percent of potential hunters were from urban hometowns, and 74 percent did not have immediate family members who hunt. Seventy-nine percent were majoring in fields outside of agriculture or natural resources.
“We found many potential hunters who don’t share the same attributes as active hunters,” Larson said. “What’s motivating them, what’s limiting their participation and how do we build a bridge to help connect them to hunting and wildlife conservation?”
For students across the survey, getting ethically and locally sourced meat was the biggest motivator for hunting. Students across all groups also supported hunting as a conservation tool. Hunting for social reasons or for sport were more prominent motivations among active hunters. The biggest constraint they found among non-hunters, potential hunters and lapsed hunters was interest in other activities.
“One of our biggest takeaways is that many students, regardless of their background, support ecological conservation motivations for hunting. They care about controlling over-populated species and about improving personal and environmental health by eating local game meat,” said the study’s lead author Victoria Vayer, a former graduate student in parks, recreation and tourism management at NC State. “If we use messaging that relates to those motivations, instead of emphasizing contentious things like trophy hunting, we could reel in more potential hunters without eroding support among people who don’t hunt.”
The study, “Diverse University Students Across the United States Reveal Promising Pathways to Hunter Recruitment and Retention,” was published online in The Journal of Wildlife Management. The study was funded by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Multistate Conservation Grant Program, through U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Awards F18AP00171 and F19AP00094.
(Photo sources: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash)
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission recently unanimously approved the enrollment of 199,000 acres into the Public Access Program for the fall 2021 hunting season, bringing the program to a total of 973,000 acres.
The Public Access Program provides limited, seasonal hunting and fishing opportunities on Colorado trust land across the state.
“I’m thrilled that hunters and anglers will have more access to state trust lands in Colorado this season,” said Dan Prenzlow, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director. “Hunters and anglers are a critical foundation to wildlife conservation. They make significant contributions to our local economy, especially rural economies. It’s an added benefit that our Public Access Program helps fund Colorado school kids.”
Locations of the new lands enrolled in the Public Access Program for fall 2021’s hunting season will be announced with the release of the 2021 Colorado Recreational Lands Brochure later this year.