The Don Aldrich Award

Bob Munson - 1990

Bob Munson
Bob Munson

Ducks, trout, sheep, turkeys, quail, pheasants, ruffed grouse—fool hens for crying out loud—they all have their own group. People who are looking out for them and their habitat. But elk? Way smarter, nobler, more majestic than all those. Yet nobody’s taking care of them. Can you imagine life without wild elk and elk hunting? Hey what if …

Thus went the genesis of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Bob Munson, Charlie Decker and two fellow parishioners from the Troy Christian Fellowship Church gathered around a kitchen table in a town in northwest Montana so small it had no stoplight and darn few stop signs. Scant months later, on May 14, 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was born. Who would launch a nonprofit organization and a national magazine and hold a national convention within the space of 11 months – all without two nickels in the bank? Clearly, they must have been elk hunters.

Thirty years hence, RMEF has conserved more than 6.4 million acres of elk country in 27 states while forever protecting almost 1.1 million acres of North America’s most vital elk habitat. In Montana alone, RMEF has so far protected forever 205,000 acres of the most crucial elk habitat and enhanced another 538,000 acres of incredible country. Additionally, the RMEF opened or secured public access to more than 700,000 acres, invested more than $84 million to fund some 1,600 scientific research and wildlife management projects and became a respected voice for sound wildlife stewardship and ethical, fair chase hunting. Today more than 200,000 active RMEF members hail from every state in America.

Yet, where else but Montana would you find such fanatic, wild-eyed optimism? And it didn’t hurt to put everything on the line and work harder than you’ve ever worked. That’s Bob to the core. And he still brims with irrepressible energy, infectious enthusiasm, and wicked good humor. Early on, he took Theodore Roosevelt’s challenge to Dare Greatly. It served him well while as the RMEF’s president for the crucial first 14 years, and continues to guide him today as he remains an ambassador for the RMEF’s mission to “promote the proper management of elk and elk habitat to ensure their future in North America.”

With Bob’s guidance, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has become a tremendous force for conserving wild country and ensuring the future of America’s unique hunting heritage both in Montana and all across the nation. Bob, however, would be the first to point out that no individual deserves the credit for what could only be achieved through the passion, sweat and blood of countless others. Still, throughout the RMEF’s first 30 years, no one has dared more greatly than Bob Munson.

By Tom Palmer, Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame

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