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Photos: Nosing Ahead–Elk Camp 2013

A celebration of elk and elk hunting, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s (RMEF) annual convention and expo set the tone for another year of conservation efforts.

Elk Camp, as it’s affectionately known, concluded its four-day run on March 3 in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Convention Center and Mirage hotel and casino were filled with everything elk.

Crowds packed the aisles to see the latest in elk hunting gear, outfitters, art, and more.

Elk Camp is RMEF’s biggest annual fundraiser. Over the years, proceeds have helped RMEF conserve and enhance more than 6.2 million acres of habitat, restore elk herds to native ranges, and educate youth and the public about America’s hunting heritage.

Elk Camp buzzed with the announcement that deceased RMEF member Bob Torstenson and his family had created a new $30 million endowment for RMEF. It’s likely the largest gift ever received by a sporting organization. Interest and earnings will help RMEF accelerate its conservation work in the future.

Daily auctions featured a variety of items including a log cabin, New Holland tractor, art, firearms, and hunts. Top seller: Arizona’s special elk tag brought a whopping $385,000—an incredible jackpot for conservation programs in the Grand Canyon State!

In the expo hall, Brunton touted its new-for-2013 Epoch MD riflescopes. MD stands for maximum definition, the next step up from HD.

Always a highlight of Elk Camp, the RMEF/Leupold World Elk Calling Championships brought a steady serenade of bugles, bellows, and grunts. Winners included: Professional Division—Bryan Langley of McMinnville, Oregon. Men’s Division—Dirk Durham of Moscow, Idaho. Women’s Division—Misty Jacobsen of Monterey, California. Voice Division—William Card of Reno, Nevada. Youth Division—Greg Hubbell, Jr. of Belmont, California. PeeWee Division—Isaac Jacobsen of Boise, Idaho.

The last original painting by the late, great wildlife and western artist Larry Zabel was offered at auction. “Echoes of Zion” sold for $33,000.

Every elk hunter needs a custom cowboy hat, and Rand’s Hats measured skull shapes at a head-scratching pace throughout Elk Camp. The device is called a comformateur, made in France in the 1800s. About a dozen are known in the US and Rand’s owns six of them.

The presenting sponsor of Elk Camp was, once again, MidwayUSA. Company founder and president Larry Potterfield told a banquet crowd that organizations like RMEF, National Rifle Association, Dallas Safari Club, and other sporting groups are vitally important to the future of America.

At an Elk Camp seminar, outdoor TV personality Cameron Hanes revealed his secret for accuracy with bow and arrow. Each practice session, before he’s even warmed up, starts with extreme-distance shooting. He showed a video of him drilling a six-arrow, 12-inch group at 160 yards. Hanes says he’d never shoot game at that distance, but the exercise makes a 40-50-yard shot seem easy.

Artist Tim Little likes the phrase, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a junk pile.” Little fashions wildlife figures from unlikely items. This bull elk includes antique garden tools, spoons, wood stove legs, a pistol frame, water spigots and a bunch of machinery parts.

What was the proper attire for Elk Camp’s ladies luncheon and auction? Rodeo-clown formal, of course. The ladies whooped it up while raising money for RMEF conservation work in elk country.

From elk to tahr, whitetails to leopards and redfish to halibut, there was an outfitter at Elk Camp offering the opportunity of a lifetime. Cow elk hunts could be found for as little as $1,000. Bull hunts ranged from $3,000 upward to cough, cough, choke…

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Elk Calling Championships, all previous Professional Division champs were pitted against each other in a special Champion of Champions contest. Corey Jacobsen of Boise, Idaho, took the prestigious title.

Buck Knives debuted its new Harvest Series Boning Knife. Its durability, comfort and secure grip even in wet conditions make this knife an ideal tool for the big game hunter. All sales at Elk Camp were earmarked for RMEF.

Sold! A relieved bidder hugs the puppy he just bought at an Elk Camp auction. The male black Lab from Lori’s Labradors fetched $5,500.

Countless newcomers were introduced to archery at the “Shoot Like a Girl” booth. With careful instruction and mentoring from peers, novice nervousness frequently melted into smiles in a matter of minutes.

Randy Newberg (left), whose TV show On Your Own Adventures in 2012 aired the first successful wolf hunt in the lower 48, conducted an Elk Camp seminar on wolf hunting. “People ask me ‘Why hunt wolves,’” he said, “and I always say ‘Why not?’ It’s a big game animal. Every big game species prospers because it’s hunted. It’s no different with wolves.”

Country music legend Charlie Daniels entertained Elk Camp attendees at the big Grand Banquet finale. Other entertainers during the event included Daryl Singletary, Josh Thompson, and Ronnie Dunn.

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