There is nothing that gets a bunch of elk lovers more fired up than the sound of a bull elk’s bugle. During the Oregon Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Rendezvous in the John Day River Valley, RMEF Founders Bob Munson and Charlie Decker gave attendees quite a display of elk calling…gone bad. Honestly though, I can’t think of a better way to fire up a crowd than with two of the four founders that started with a vision of what RMEF could accomplish and have proven what we can do and we are only getting started.
RMEF believes that Hunting is Conservation and having conserved or enhanced over 6.4 Million acres since 1984, we are proof that hunters are the best conservationists. I was proud to take part in the celebration of a very special project that took six years, countless volunteer hours, and a true team collaboration to permanently conserve and protect 13,082 acres located at the head of the John Day River.
Oregon is my home state, this is where I live, these are elk herds and forests that I have literally grown up surrounded by, this is what the RMEF is all about. We are a team that works together to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. The John Day headwaters project is not only going to benefit elk but is also critical because of the essential cold water tributaries that are sourced on the land benefitting salmon, steelhead, bull trout, redband and cutthroat trout, all located in the heart of elk country.
RMEF included in the weekend some very important on the ground work projects for The Logan Valley Meadow Restoration Project where volunteers fell encroaching lodge pole pines, performed noxious weed control, removed old down fence lines and even removed conifers in vital Aspen stands.
After a busy workday in the Malheur National Forest, RMEF volunteers, members and staff ensured that a good time is had by all.
Let the tailgate party begin…
RMEF members are a family and when you attend a rendezvous weekend at the Lake Creek Campground you are sure to feel like part of that family. The weekend festivities were kicked off with a huge oyster feed. Everyone got an opportunity to share in the wild game harvest or a favorite home cooked recipe with the good old fashioned potluck.
After everyone was bursting full, we all gathered our lawn chairs around center stage as up and coming country music sensation Jesse Taylor performed. The party wasn’t over there…the rowdies burned the midnight oil around a giant bon fire sharing stories and some were probably even true.
Paradise Rose Chuckwagon Catering brought the Western back to life with outstanding real cowboy cuisine that was sure to knock the boots off of everyone during breakfast, lunch and dinner.
World famous outdoor chef C.W. Welch or better known as “Cee Dub” shared some tips for easy Dutch oven and outdoor cooking, he even shared the finished product with the now hungry spectators. If you are like me and love to cook and eat, be sure to have Cee Dub help make your next meal more enjoyable by purchasing his cookbooks online at www.ceedubs.com.
Then Dr.Clint Epps, OSU Department of Fisheries & Wildlife discussed the technical complexity and challenges therein of switching to lead free ammunition.
World Champion Elk Caller Bryan Langley and myself took the afternoon center stage giving an elk calling demonstration of bull and cow sounds and even a few ins and outs of how to make your own calls work a little better for you. Plus we threw in a few secret hunting tips and strategies that have worked well for us.
Everyone had the opportunity to participate in volleyball, horse shoes and raffle tickets were sold and a silent auction was held.
During happy hour hors d’oeuves were complimented with Stein Distilleries offerering a free tasting which included Oregon’s exclusive Team Elk Whiskey. Evening entertainment featured true blue country singer Joni Harms.
Sunday, we loaded up and headed up for the John Day Headwaters Celebration and project tour. Seeing the wildlife through our optics during the project tour brought everything full circle. Together we are creating a legacy that will last long beyond our lifetime, ensuring that elk and other wildlife have the needed habitat to not only survive the test of time but thrive.
If you are not a member of RMEF, you should join today. Go to www.rmef.org.