Short But Sweet … A Camping Trip Is Always Worth It – ALPS OUTDOORZ

by Jace Bauserman 


Most years, by now, my family and I have put a mess of crappie in the Lund and have scouted and hunted for turkeys. 

Not this year.


On March 8, 2024, I had back surgery. A Microdiscectomy was needed to remove part of a herniated disc at L5/S1. The recovery process meant no boating or strenuous activity for four weeks. And then, even still, I needed to exercise caution. 

By mid-April, I was feeling strong enough for a family camping trip. I planned to head south, not far from my Colorado home, and scout for turkeys. 

My bride of 20 years and my daughter couldn’t make the trip, but my two sons and our foreign exchange student were excited to make the trip. 


Why Camp? 

I have a 20-foot Jayco, and the trip was only 60 miles from home; we easily could have come and gone morning and night. 

Why did we opt for Browning Camping’s Big Horn 5-Person tent, McKinley sleeping bags, and Fireside Chairs?


There’s something magical about tent camping that you can’t get staying in a trailer or RV. It’s the work of setting up camp — the labor the entire team puts in to create a livable spot where fun can be had. It’s the firepit construction and the gathering of kindling and wood. Laughter and jokes as a spot of bare earth become something more. 


The Spot? 

One of my favorite turkey haunts is the land in and around a no-name canyon in southeast Colorado. Walls of rock mixed with sagebrush flats, cottonwoods, cedars, and a creek make the perfect setting for hard-gobbling Merriam birds. 

Before we went walkabout, though, camp needed to be set and lunch prepared. With all hands on deck, the fiberglass-pole tent with a top-tier hub design that makes setup a breeze came to life. Titan XP cots were deployed and covered by the McKinely bags and a few pillows. 

Hunter, my oldest and our foreign exchange student, built the firepit while my youngest, Brody, headed out on wood patrol. 

As I put the finishing touches on the tent, I heard the crackling and pooping of cedar, and its aroma, mixed with a hint of beans, and Ramen, told me lunch was almost ready. A few Mountain House meals were also on the menu. 

Plopping our butts in chairs, we sat in silence. The need to fill our stomachs was strong, but mainly, the silence matched the tranquil spring day, and we sat thinking of vibrant fans, deafening gobbles, and the possibility of finding a shed horn or two. 

The Fireside Chairs are a staple of any Bauserman camping affair. The compact but stable foldable design is unbeatable. The oversized beverage holder is a bonus, and the durable mesh fabric allows airflow to create a comfortable seat. We also are massive fans of ALPS Mountaineering’s Escape chairs. 


A Good Sign! 

I was just about finished attaching the weatherproof fly when Hunter said, “Shhh.” 

We all stopped, wondering why he shushed us. Then, I heard it. It was faint — a long way off — around the canyon bend and up the creek. Still, it was gobble. 

We quickly surmised the remaining camp chores could wait. We gathered our ALPS Shield Bino Harness’ filled with glass from Leupold and Zeiss and walked to the canyon rim. 

Our foreign exchange student Nills thought he spotted a black blop easing across a distant sage flat but lost it. When glassing, I always tote my Weekender Stadium Seat from ALPS Mountaineering. Though this weightless beauty is designed for sporting events, I’ve found the comfy bottom and stiff back perfect for glassing.  

After setting the tripod and adding my spotter, Nills’ suspicion was confirmed. A single tom, a gaggle of jakes, and nine hens were scratching for seeds while bugging in the semi-open flat. It was an incredible sight for Nills, his first-ever wild turkey encounter. 

Wanting to get closer, we inched off the canyon wall and made a gnarly 900-foot descent to the bottom. As we made our way up the creek, inspecting cottonwood draws, sage flats, and cedar-dappled hillsides, we found plenty of wild turkey evidence. Occasionally, I would tickle my aluminum pot, and more times than not, a gobbler would thunder back. 

I toted MSR cookware in my ALPS Pursuit, and because darkness comes late in the West during spring, Mountain House and Backpacker Pantry meals were on the dinner agenda.

We returned to the canyon rim with guidance from our Browning Blackout Elite Headlamps. It was sketchy, but thoughts of birds flying to the tops of cottonwoods kept us putting one foot in front of the other. We would stop occasionally to get our breath, and every time, a treetop gobble would bounce off the canyon walls and make us smile. 

It was an epic day in the turkey woods, and the best part was it was now time for a crackling campfire, stories, and smores. 


Camping Brings Out The Best In Everyone

The fire was vibrant, and tales of the day’s scouting mission—some true and some exaggerated—were told. Some marshmallows were perfectly roasted, with a brown crusty surface and yummy goodness trapped inside. Others were burned black, but the charcoal taste wasn’t so bad when stuffed between two graham crackers with Hershey Chocolate. 

We stayed up late, spinning lies and laughing wildly. As a father and outdoorsman, I don’t take these moments lightly. My outdoor brain often calls on memories made around a campfire. Camping brings out the best in all of us.

Our annual turkey scouting camping trip was shorter than usual, with kids in high school sports and busy schedules. 

When we got home, my wife asked me, “Was it all worth it?” You did all that work and only got to stay one night, right?”

I looked at her, slightly dumbfounded, as she loves to camp. Then I told her tale after tale of our trip. She laughed, smiled, and said, “Yeah, of course it was.” 



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2024 Mathews LIFT: Aluminum in a New Light

The 2024 LIFT checks all the boxes. At sub-4 pounds, this next generation of hunting bows utilizes the all-new SwitchWeight X Cam delivering speeds up to 348 FPS while remaining deadly quiet. The LIFT features reimagined RPD™ limbs and a new top axle system for lightweight stability. Everything put into the 2024 LIFT is made to deliver a higher standard of bowhunting – guaranteed.


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Watch: Wyoming 4th Graders Perform Original Elk Hunting Song

We, at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, love seeing the many and often unique ways wildlife and hunting weave throughout our lives. We recently received a great video from some Wyoming fourth graders and just had to share. 

Recent Bugle contributor and RMEF member Thomas Wilson (Situation Ethics, p. 91 in the 2024 May-June Bugle) is the music teacher at Baldwin Creek Elementary in Lander, Wyoming. Students were given the task of creating their own piece of music, he says.  

First, they come up with a starting idea; it can be anything they want as long as it’s simple, original, doable, OK for school and interesting to the class. Then they turn that idea into a piece of music, with the teacher providing structure and technical help. Once the songs are written, rehearsed and ready, the kids get to perform for the community at their year-end concert. 

Mrs. Mulholland’s fourth-grade class decided they wanted to write a song in the style of a pioneer ballad. Even though many of the kids in the class don’t hunt, they decided the subject should be a hunting story. They came up with “Elk on the Prairie.”  

“I’ve lived this story,” Wilson added. 


(Video source: Thomas Wilson)

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Partners Play Huge Role in 40 Years of RMEF Conservation

MISSOULA, Mont. — Celebrating four decades of conservation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation formally recognized six partner organizations at its recent 40th anniversary celebration that helped further its mission over that time – U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), Bass Pro Shops-Cabela’s, Browning, Leupold and Weatherby.

“The Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game truly have been conservation partners for four decades. Together, we have carried out meaningful and ongoing work for the benefit of elk, mule deer, moose and so many other wildlife species,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

RMEF-USFS Cumulative Project History

  • 3,715 projects
  • 3,861,508 acres enhanced
  • 157,091 acres conserved
  • 363,373 acres of improved public access
  • $388.6 million in conservation value

RMEF-IDFG Cumulative Project History:

  • 263 projects
  • 277,806 acres enhanced
  • 21,287 acres conserved
  • 22,987 acres of improved public access
  • $19.8 million in conservation value

“Bass Pro Shops-Cabela’s, Browning, Leupold and Weatherby support us because they believe in and value our mission. They did so 40 years ago and they do so today,” said Steve Decker, RMEF chief revenue officer.

Recognized Partners on RMEF (click here to watch a video)

U.S. Forest Service Associate Chief Angela Coleman: “What an incredible history, an incredible legacy and incredible friendship. We want to say thank you for teaching us how to share leadership, how to share stewardship.”

Idaho Game and Fish Idaho State Wildlife Manager Rick Ward: “One thing I learned in my career is conservation is a team sport. I think RMEF exemplifies that.”

Bass Pro Shops-Cabela’s Senior Director of Conservation Bob Ziehmer: “You look at the RMEF and it’s one of the best conservation programs that are out there based on reputation as well as accomplishments.”

Browning CEO Travis Hall: “Our company wouldn’t be where it is today without people like you and creating the opportunities. It’s always been a pleasure and the people are what make this organization so great.”

Leupold President & CEO Bruce Pettet: “We have a responsibility to leave what we do to future generations and what we have and try to make it better. That’s the thing that I think RMEF has done.”

Weatherby CEO Adam Weatherby: “My grandpa was an innovator and when he saw something that was going to do something pretty cool, he got behind it. And that was the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in 1984.”

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded in 1984 and fueled by hunters, RMEF has conserved more than 8.9 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 or 800-CALL ELK.

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Restoring Elk Country – Book Cliffs, UT

Restoring Elk Country – Book Cliffs, UT

The Book Cliffs of eastern Utah are among the most remote, rugged and yet beautiful landscapes in the Lower 48.

The high plateau region is migratory corridor for elk and mule deer but it’s also extremely dry because of prolonged drought leading to poor forage conditions and summer range.

These conditions contributed to declining deer and elk populations over the years.

In 2019, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation joined the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and other partners to form a working group to help identify needed improvements – one of which was to build more wildlife water resources spread across a half million acres of public lands.

Leading up to that time, RMEF previously supplied funding dating back to 2011 for 54 new water guzzlers and repair five others across the Book Cliffs.

The refocused working group effort led many projects, including RMEF providing funding assistance for the construction of 27 more guzzlers and three ponds as well as upgrades to 17 existing ponds over just two years.

At each guzzler site – both new and refurbished – crews placed 1,800-gallon tanks into the ground. Above each of them, they built metal aprons that capture and feed rainwater and snowmelt into the tanks that wildlife can use during the dry season.

The water projects are a boon not just for elk and mule deer, but also pronghorn antelope, black bears, bison, mountain lions, turkey and many other bird and wildlife species.

And going forward, the working group has more conservation projects planned.

Restoring elk country is fundamental to RMEF’s mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Since 1984, RMEF helped conserve or enhance more than 8.9 million acres of wildlife habitat.

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Overland Trail, Wyoming – onX Public Access Project

Overland Trail, Wyoming

Sometimes the most difficult part of elk hunting is just finding a way to get there, especially if landownership patterns simply don’t allow public access to quality elk country.

That was the case in southeast Wyoming.

But elk hunting prospects took a detour for the better when the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Wyoming Game and Fish Department teamed up with a conservation-minded family.

It happened in 2022 and 2023 about 35 miles northwest of Laramie next to the Snowy Mountain Range.

The family entered an RMEF voluntary conservation agreement over their property.

Doing so protected the wildlife values of their land, which is home to critical winter and calving range for elk and year-round range for moose, mule deer, pronghorn antelope and Greater-sage grouse.

But the family stepped up even more by extending an existing five-year access agreement to 20 years, allowing public hunters to cross their property on a road to reach adjacent land managed by the state of Wyoming, Bureau of Land Management and Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest.

Not only is that a boon for public hunter access but it allows biologists to better manage elk and other wildlife to reach population objectives.

Creating and improving public access is a long-time focus of RMEF’s mission.

Since 1984 – RMEF has opened or improved public access to more than 1.5 million acres.

To view the sites and boundaries of RMEF land conservation and access projects, turn on the RMEF layer and use the code RMEF when you sign up for your onX subscription to receive a 20% discount.

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RMEF Celebrates Four Decades of Conservation

MISSOULA, Mont. — Riding 40 years of conservation momentum and knocking on the door of nine million acres of conserved or enhanced wildlife habitat, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation paused to honors its volunteers, supporters and celebrate its lifetime mission accomplishments. 

“I can’t believe where we are today but you are the people that made it happen,” said RMEF co-founder Charlie Decker, addressing a venue of members, volunteers and supporters at RMEF’s recent anniversary celebration. “We (the RMEF founders) are just the vehicle that the good Lord used a long time ago that didn’t know what they were doing. But we’re here and we’re here to stay!” 

To forever honor the contributions of Decker and fellow co-founder Bob Munson, RMEF announced it will erect life-sized bronze statues of the two later this summer at its headquarters in Missoula, Montana. 

“Our founders will now forever welcome anyone and everyone coming to see RMEF. They will also stand guard to ensure that we never stray from the humble beginnings from which we were formed,” said Fred Lekse, RMEF Board of Directors chair. 

40th anniversary celebration events included Volunteer Fun Night, an evening solely dedicated to highlighting the efforts of individual volunteers, chapters and states in raising critical funding to support RMEF’s mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. 

“It can’t be overstated. The most valuable thing RMEF volunteers give is their time. Because of thousands of them around the country, we put more money on the ground to make more of a difference,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president & CEO. “Looking forward, RMEF is in a position of strength and influence to be more impactful for wildlife, hunting, public access, conservation and advocating for our mission priorities.” 

Additional RMEF 40th Anniversary Celebration Highlights 

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:   

Founded in 1984 and fueled by hunters, RMEF has conserved more than 8.9 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 or 800-CALL ELK.   

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RMEF Files to Intervene in Northern Rockies Wolves Relisting Case

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation asked a federal court to join a lawsuit in opposition to environmentalists seeking to place gray wolves in the Northern Rockies back under Endangered Species Act protections.

RMEF supports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which cited extensive peer-reviewed scientific assessments to deny two petitions by litigants earlier this year when it ruled, “Despite current levels of regulated harvest, lethal control, and episodic disease outbreaks, wolf abundance in the Western United States has generally continued to increase and occupied range has continued to expand.”

“Wolf populations in Idaho and Montana are respectively 800 and 600 percent above minimum federal recovery goals while Wyoming’s population met minimum federal recovery criteria the last 21 consecutive years. Plus, those in Oregon and Washington are at their highest modern-day levels ever,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “It is incumbent that these groups stick to proven science and not emotion for the sake of healthy predator and prey populations alike.”

Environmentalists claim monitoring techniques used by Northern Rockies’ states to estimate wolf population size are flawed and overestimate the number of wolves. They also claim that previously accepted population sizes required for healthy wolf genetics are now no longer valid and minimum wolf populations need to be larger.

“Again, their arguments are not grounded in the best available science. The Crabtree and Creel white paper, which they cite as science, are independent reports authored by wolf proponents and not scientific, peer-reviewed research subject to rigorous testing. Another cited study is funded by the Turner Endangered Species Fund, a well-known wolf proponent group, as pointed out in its own conflict of interest section,” added Weaver.

Sportsmen’s Alliance and Safari Club International also filed to intervene alongside RMEF, which has always maintained that state wildlife agencies should sustainably manage wolves just as they manage elk, mountain lions, deer, black bears and other wildlife in line with the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:  

Founded in 1984 and fueled by hunters, RMEF has conserved more than 8.9 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 or 800-CALL ELK. 

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Teen Forwards Graduation Announcement, Praises RMEF

It’s nice to get a pat on the back every once in a while. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation receives a lot of daily correspondence via email, phone calls, snail mail and other means.

Recently, a graduation announcement landed in the RMEF mail room along with a nice note (see image below) from a young man from Roundup, a small community in rural Musselshell County, about a 50-minute drive north of Billings in central Montana. Its text is below.

Hello RMEF,

You guys are by far my favorite nonprofit organization. I love how you guys have helped with elk populations. I have done my fair share of hunting them and it wouldn’t be possible without you guys. Thank you!


Wyndan Kimmel

Thank you Wyndan! Congratulations and best of luck to you!

(Photo courtesy: Wyndan Kimmel)

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Hundreds Help RMEF Celebrate 40 Years

By Tom Kuglin, Bugle Hunting & Outdoor Lifestyle Editor

It was a memorable weekend for conservation in Missoula, Montana, as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and hundreds of supporters celebrated 40 years of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

From its humble beginnings in tiny Troy, Montana, in 1984 to the national conservation powerhouse of today, RMEF celebrated its 40th anniversary from May 3-4 as a chance to honor a legacy while looking forward to a bright future for elk country. And it was a chance to have a lot of fun with new and old friends committed to RMEF and everything the organization and its volunteers work tirelessly for.

“There is no organization that has done more through all of the people, the donors, the volunteers, the staff, no one has done more for the life I live of hunting and conservation and access than the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation,” said Randy Newberg, longtime RMEF supporter and host of Fresh Tracks who served as master of ceremonies for the evening events. “I will never be able to repay the gratitude I have for them and what have done for all of us.”

RMEF kicked things off with a Friday open house at the Grant Creek headquarters. Welcomed in the newly remodeled visitor center with handshakes, hugs and raffles—not to mention elk smash burgers grilling outside—attendees had come from across the country to mark the special occasion.

The open house was just the warmup for Volunteer Fun Night as RMEF took over Missoula’s historic Wilma Theater. Volunteers from east, west, north and south packed the venue to be recognized for their incredible work for conservation and RMEF’s mission.

“We came to Missoula to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the most important conservation organization that there is in the United States of America,” said Jill Cohenour, a volunteer from Helena, Montana. “It does so much amazing work putting money on the ground to actually protect and conserve populations of not only elk, but it’s every other thing in the ecosystem. We’re so lucky to be a part of an organization that actually helps to maintain that for future generations.”

Volunteer Fun Night honored not only top fundraising states such as Montana, Colorado and Pennsylvania which all topped their regions, but also recognized the volunteers themselves, who, as RMEF President & CEO Kyle Weaver told the crowd, “donate their most precious commodity—their time.” Austin Collins of Ohio, Jen Chavez of Utah and J.D. Johnson of Idaho all received RMEF’s Volunteer Contribution Award recognizing the highest level of volunteerism in the organization.

“It simply cannot be overstated—volunteers are the heart of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation,” Weaver told the crowd. “It was that way 40 years ago, it is that way today and it will be the same way for many years to come.”

Live music, drinks and dancing helped Volunteer Fun Night live up to its name as those who have put so much into RMEF and its mission reveled in the celebration.

Zach Top Band

Anniversary festivities continued Saturday, with a special breakfast for members of the RMEF Trails Society to recognize their extraordinary commitment to elk country. At the same time about 30 hearty souls worked out with partners from MTNTOUGH with training designed to prepare them for the rigors of the backcountry.

(Left to right: Yvonne & RMEF co-founder Charlie Decker)

A pair of volunteer lunches included an ‘80s-style Ladies Luncheon with plenty of neon getups and big hair to remind us of the (perhaps questionable) fashion popular back when RMEF was formed. Meanwhile, the Gun Luncheon offered other attendees raffles for multiple firearms and other hunting gear to raise money for the organization’s mission work.

(Left to right: Anna Marie & Dylan – photo credit: Anna Marie)

“I’m so excited to be here for the 40th anniversary of the Elk Foundation,” said board member AshLee Strong. “Hunting heritage is critical for our family. I have a 6-and-a-half-month-old baby and I hope that I can instill the values that the Elk Foundation has and in the hunting heritage and conservation of this great state and nation. We are so blessed to have the privilege.”

Lining up for the Grand Banquet

Grand Banquet emcee Randy Newberg (left) and auctioneer Taylor Ophus

The Grand Banquet on Saturday night back at the Wilma cemented not only the past four decades of conservation, but also showcased the true impact RMEF has had on so many lives. RMEF’s first industry partners Browning, Leupold, Bass Pro Shops-Cabela’s and Weatherby received honors including artwork featuring their advertisements from the first issue of Bugle Magazine. And agency partners with the Idaho Department of Fish & Game and the U.S. Forest Service were recognized for decades of collaborative projects. 

“Thank you for teaching us how to share leadership, how to share stewardship, and we’re looking forward to the future with you,” said Angela Coleman, Forest Service associate chief. “There’s one saying I want to leave us with and it is that ‘if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.’ We’re proud to be with you.”

(Left to right: Weatherby CEO Adam Weatherby & RMEF Chief Revenue Officer Steve Decker)

RMEF Conservationist of the Year award went to Casey Stemler, a longtime wildlife biologist and driving force behind the Department of the Interior’s 2018 Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors Initiative. RMEF has been a major supporter of the project. “Casey’s dedicated efforts led to unprecedented focus and support over the last decade for the conservation of western big game species resulting in millions of dollars in committed funding for mapping, research, barrier removal and land and wildlife conservation,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer.

Stemler, citing his faith, humbly accepted the award as a recognition of not only his work, but the efforts of so many in conservation. “I’m being recognized for this, but I feel a little guilty because you cannot do this without partners and all the people on the landscape doing the work. Thank you for recognizing me, but really, thank you for recognizing all the people,” said Stemler.

The evening brought out plenty of emotions as co-founder Charlie Decker read a letter from fellow co-founder Bob Munson, who could not attend due to health reasons. Decker impassionedly thanked the crowd, saying, “I can’t believe where we are today but you are the people that made it happen. We’re just the vehicle that the good Lord used a long time ago that didn’t know what they were doing but we’re here and we’re here to stay. Thank each and every one of you very much.”

As a surprise to Decker and Munson, the legacy they laid in stone will now be set in bronze. RMEF commissioned life-sized sculptures of the two founders that once completed, will greet visitors at the entrance of the Elk Country Visitor Center at RMEF headquarters. Munson, who was watching remotely, texted a lighthearted reply that was read to the crowd: “Charlie, yours is going to cost a lot more than mine.”

(Left to right: RMEF President & CEO Kyle Weaver, RMEF Board of Directors Chair Fred Lekse, Charlie & Yvonne Decker)

In a moving surprise announcement, Newberg received the Wallace Fennell Pate Award, the organization’s highest conservation honor. With his son Matthew on stage and wife Kim in the crowd, Newberg delivered an emotional impromptu speech detailing early efforts in advocacy to growing a media force for hunters, wildlife and public lands, and thanking his supporters, sponsors and RMEF staff and volunteers that help drive him to this day.

“I’ve been blessed in so many respects that I can’t count them all,” he said.

Randy Newberg & son Matthew

With country music star Randy Houser getting ready to take the stage, Weaver asked how to understand, appreciate and honor 40 years of conservation. The answer, he said, comes from those who made the trip to Missoula and everyone that makes the work of RMEF possible.  

“It’s the people. It’s our members, our volunteers, our donors, our conservation partners, our sponsors. It’s you!” he said. “Here’s to you and four conservation-crammed decades of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation!”

(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)

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