Elk NetworkPhoto Gallery: RMEF’s 40th Anniversary Celebration

40th Anniversary , General | May 7, 2024

The Rocky Mountain celebrated its 40th anniversary with a jam-packed weekend of memories and conservation accomplishments in Missoula, Montana, the home of its international headquarters. Below is a photo essay highlighting some of the many gatherings and activities that took place.


Surprised RMEF co-founder Charlie Decker chuckles after seeing clay mock-ups of what will become life-sized bronze statues of him and fellow co-founder Bob Munson. 

RMEF announced the statues will be erected later this summer at its headquarters in tribute to the two men who founded the conservation organization. Munson was unable to attend the announcement due to health issues. However, after watching the announcement live virtually, he quipped in a text, “Charlie, yours is going to cost a lot more than mine.”

Charlie and Bob in clay. Bronze versions coming soon.

RMEF bestowed the Wallace Fennell Pate Conservation Award, its highest honor, on Randy Newberg. That, too, was a surprise for the emotional Newberg as he emceed the event yet was kept in the dark and knew nothing about it.

Newberg is a well-known public lands hunter, longtime RMEF volunteer and life member, and strong advocate for RMEF’s mission. His son, Matthew on left, and wife, Kim (not pictured), were also in attendance. Find more info here.

Longtime biologist, hunter and RMEF life member Casey Stemler (center) received the Conservationist of the Year Award. Stemler is the force behind the Department of Interior’s 2018 Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors Initiative (Secretarial Order 3362) to improve habitat in western migration corridors. (Also pictured – RMEF President & CEO Kyle Weaver on left & RMEF Chief Conservation Officer Blake Henning)

RMEF recognized four long-time outdoor industry partners whose ads ran in the first editions of Bugle magazine in the mid-1980s and whose support continued since then. Browning President & CEO Travis Hall: “Our company would not be where it is today without people like you. The people are what make this organization so great.”

Jeff Friesen, general manager of the Missoula Cabela’s operation, accepted recognition in behalf of Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s support that also dates back 40 years. (RMEF Chief Revenue Officer Steve Decker – on right)

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

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

RMEF recognized two conservation partners dating back to their roots. The U.S. Forest Service and RMEF collaborated for 3,715 projects over the years that conserved or enhanced more than four million acres of wildlife habitat and opened or improved public access to 363,373 acres. USFS Associate Chief Angela Coleman: “Forty years. What an incredible history, an incredible legacy, an incredible friendship. And we want you to know it’s our message to you that your work is making a difference.”

RMEF and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game also have a relationship that dates back to the mid-80s with 263 cumulative projects that conserved or enhanced nearly 300,000 acres and improved public access to about 23,000 acres. IDFG Idaho State Wildlife Manager Rick Ward: “Conservation is a team sport and RMEF exemplifies that.” 

Nashville country music recording artist Randy Houser closed the evening with an intimate, rockin’ concert.



It was a loud, enthusiastic, throwback evening of recognizing, honoring and appreciating RMEF’s vast throng of volunteers from coast to coast. 

Team Washington volunteers whoop it up!

The Volunteer Contribution Award recognizes volunteers who reached the highest level of volunteerism for RMEF. Three of them received special recognition, including Austin Collins of Ohio, pictured with RMEF Board of Directors Chair Fred Lekse.

Volunteer Contribution Award winner Jen Chavez from Utah.

Volunteer Contribution Award winner J.D. Johnson from Idaho.

It’s how you react when your name is drawn to win a high-dollar raffle prize…


…or this!

Not only did individual volunteers receive recognition for their efforts but so did chapters and states, like the Smith Valley Chapter in Nevada…

…and the Great Smoky Mountains Chapter in North Carolina…

…and the Tucson Chapter out of Arizona, with its banner signed by Charlie and Yvonne Decker and (looks like) life member and former RMEF board member Jim Zumbo.

Volunteer Fun Night and the RMEF Grand Banquet both took place in the historic Wilma Theater in downtown Missoula, Montana.

The Zach Top Band closed out the volunteer bash. And a good time was had by…



RMEF hosted an open house at its Elk Country Visitor Center. The place was hopping from start to finish, capped off by a happy hour sponsored by our friends at onX Hunt.

In addition to hourly giveaways, there were retail specials and a bucket raffle that raised funds for RMEF’s mission.

Attendees went home with some dandy hunting gear that will get good use this hunting season.

Some good eats over the lunch hour.


Saturday morning hunter workout hosted by MTNTough.

Yvonne and Charlie Decker sharing tales at the Trails Society breakfast.

No men allowed! While many women attended a ladies luncheon…

…many of the men hit a gun luncheon.

Others chowed down on good eats provided by OutdoorClass chef Jaime Teigen.