Fence pulls, water guzzler installations, elk calf captures and, of course, planning and hosting big game banquets that generate millions of dollars for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to help advance its mission. Yes indeed, RMEF volunteers from coast to coast seemingly do it all.
North Dakota is no different. Home to 11 chapters and about 4,000 members, RMEF has a long history in the Peace Garden State, Flickertail State or Roughrider State, depending on which North Dakotan you talk to. Dating back to 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 267 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in North Dakota with a combined value of more than $13.9 million. These projects conserved or enhanced 59,422 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 36,317 acres. That measurable accomplishment happened because of support from, and dollars raised by, the state’s volunteer base.
When not wearing their conservation hats, some North Dakota volunteers take pride in wearing their coaching hats to help youth learn about the safe handling of firearms, recreational shooting, hunting, competition, team building and other life skills. Below are three recent examples.
Munich High School Clay Target Team (see above photo)
The Munich High School Clay Target team is made up of 22 boys and girls in grades 6-12 from the small communities of Langdon, Edmore, Lawton, Fairdale, Munich and Hampden in the northeast part of the state. A long-time RMEF member and volunteer is one of the main day-to-day coaches. Thanks in part to RMEF grant funding, generated by North Dakota’s volunteers, the squad had a 2023 to remember. It increased participation by 36 percent and placed in the top three of each of the team trap divisions at the North Dakota State Tournament, including two individual state champions. In the skeet competition, team shooters finished third overall. Team members also give back by helping RMEF volunteers with their big game banquet.
Valley City High School Clay Target Team
The Valley City High School Clay Target team in southeast North Dakota has 33 participants competing and learning various outdoor skills along the way. Again, RMEF volunteers are among the coaching staff and RMEF grant funding helps pay for practice and competitions. The team hosts an annual fun shoot to get spectators and administrators to shoot with the high school teammates. Like their Munich High counterparts, squad members also help at their local RMEF chapter banquets. Five Valley High shooters earned all-state honors in 2023.
Barnes County North High School Clay Target Team
The Barnes County North High School Clay Target team, based in Wimbledon but with members from other communities in the east-central part of the state, also competes in the North Dakota High School Clay Target League. They have finished strong in past conference and state tournaments. Its coaches include RMEF volunteers who utilize RMEF grant funding to defray costs. Since its inception, young squad members in grades 6-12 volunteered their time at the annual RMEF Central Dakota Chapter banquet as a community service project.
“We are grateful for all of our volunteers,” said Justin Larsen, RMEF regional director in North Dakota. “They show in word, deed, action and attitude how much they love and support our mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. Kudos to them!”