RMEF Grants Help Youth, Elk and Habitat in 3 Midwestern States

December 12, 2012

RMEF Grants Help Youth, Elk and Habitat in 3 Midwestern States

Grants provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will fund archery, shooting and hunting heritage programs for hundreds of youth in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. The funding will also improve elk and small game habitat in Kansas and Oklahoma, and go toward elk research and tree replanting efforts in Nebraska.

“It is vital that we invest resources in promoting and sustaining our hunting heritage,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “These grants show our continued commitment to reaching out to the next generation in a part of the country that was home to historical elk range.”

RMEF’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. The RMEF grants, totaling $28,050, will affect three counties in Kansas, two counties in Nebraska and 10 counties in Oklahoma. A project in Kansas has statewide interest as does an additional project in Oklahoma. Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 185 different conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in these three states with a combined value of more than $12 million.

Funding for RMEF grants is based on local membership drives and banquet fundraising by RMEF chapters and volunteers in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Allen thanked RMEF supporters for their dedication to conservation in the Midwest and all across elk country.

RMEF grants fund the following projects listed by state and county:


  • Riley County—Seed and fertilize 469 acres of existing forage plots on the Fort Riley Military Reservation to improve habitat for elk, white-tailed deer, turkey, bobwhite quail, ring-necked pheasant and many non-game species (also affects Clay and Geary counties).
  • Statewide—Sponsor Kansas Pass It On-Outdoor Mentors program to help introduce at-risk Kansas youth to outdoor recreation and conservation.


  • Cherry County—Assist Nebraska Game and Parks to capture and fit elk with telemetry collars to determine distribution and population census method in vicinity of the 19,131-acre Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, which may provide a future hunting opportunity; RMEF volunteers and others plant conifers and hardwoods in 2006 Big Rock wildfire area; provide grant for equipment to launch the National Archery in the Schools Program at Zion Lutheran School in Valentine.
  • Sioux County—RMEF volunteers remove woven wire boundary fence and replace it with wildlife-friendly fencing to facilitate safe movement of elk, deer and bighorn sheep.


  • Adair County—Use dozer operations to push timber 15 feet back along 8.1 miles of roads that serve as firebreaks to enhance safety and effectiveness of controlled burning operations to benefit wildlife in the Cookson Wildlife Management Area, 85 to 90 percent of which is in closed canopy condition. Disking, mowing and herbicide treatments to be used to maintain firebreaks. Downed timber to enhance small game habitat (also affects Cherokee County).
  • Delaware County—Implement herbicide treatments and ridge-top clearing renovations in the Spavinaw Wildlife Management Area to maintain forage openings and increase forage quality for elk, white-tailed deer and other species; re-establish nesting structure and brood rearing habitat for turkey and quail; perform maintenance on nine existing ponds; burn 5,000 acres on elk summer and winter range to improve forage for elk, deer, turkey, quail and migratory songbirds (also includes Mayes County).
  • Oklahoma County—Provide grant for archery equipment for the City Kids Outdoors National Archery in the Schools Program to introduce at-risk youth to the outdoor recreation.
  • Pittsburg County—Provide grant for archery equipment, rifles and other supplies to assist growth of the largest 4-H shooting program in Oklahoma (also affects Haskell, Latimer and Leflore counties).
  • Pushmataha County—Burn 5,000 acres on elk summer and winter range in the Pushmataha Wildlife Management Area to improve abundance and quality forage for elk, deer, turkey, quail and migratory songbirds.
  • Statewide—Provide funding for the Oklahoma Youth Hunter Education Challenge that gives outdoor skills and safety training to youth who complete their hunter certification.

Conservation projects are selected for grants using science-based criteria and a committee of RMEF volunteers and staff along with representatives from partnering agencies and universities. RMEF volunteers and staff select hunting heritage projects to be funded.

Partners for 2012 projects in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma include the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and other agencies, schools, organizations and foundations.

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One-handed Teenager Shoots Bow and Hunts for the First Time with Prosthetic Hand

November 29, 2012

One-handed Teenager Shoots Bow and Hunts for the First Time with Prosthetic Hand

Evan English, president of Olde English Outfitters in Tipp City, Ohio calls it a “hand” because he doesn’t know how else to put it. The hand that helps 14-year-old Parker Savard hold his bow steady looks more like a piece of machinery than conventional prostheses. For Parker, the hand is the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle that lets him partake in a sport he finds fascinating–not to mention that it allowed him to bowhunt with his father for the first time in his life.

While Parker is like any other teenager in interests and behavior, he is unlike any other in the fact that he was born without a right hand.

“The wrist joint is there, but the hand never developed,” said English, a long-time friend of the family who attended college with Parker’s mother and father. English began working on a prosthetic hand to hold a bow for Parker about three years ago, after the boy expressed interest in wanting to try the sport while he watched Olympic archers on TV in 2008.

Years of development and four unsuccessful models came and went before English and Parker’s father finally had a working model.

“None of us are scientists,” English said.”When we got it all right, he shot five or six shots, and I was standing there and I said, ‘Well?’ And this great big smile came over his face and I said, ‘that’s the payoff right there! That’s what we were shooting for!’”

The “forearm” is a carbon fiber sleeve that slips over the missing limb to support the entire bow-wielding structure, which is common in many prostheses. At the end of the arm is a “hand” made of aluminum, which attaches to a Bowtech Assassin compound bow where the grip normally would be. A sling goes from the thumb to the forefinger and keeps the bow from jumping out of the hand.

“There’s a channel that’s about three-fourths of an inch to an inch deep that the aluminum handle riser sits into, and it’s rounded on the inside,” English said. “And of course we had to flatten off one side to make sure it didn’t interfere with the arrow shelf… it also lets the bow rock a little bit as it does with our hand.”

English said the prosthesis was built with materials that any prosthetist can put together and can feasibly be mounted to any bow with a detachable grip.

“Now, the angles and so forth required a bit of trial-and-error so the carbon fiber wouldn’t hit the string when the bow went off,” English said.

A retired machinist and friend, Del Schindler, and prosthetist Karl Burk, were brought in to help with the final design. Burk, who operates Action Prosthetics in Troy, Ohio was a great asset to the construction of the prosthetic.

“Everything from the joint back was his doing,” English added.

Thanks to their help, Parker got to go hunting with his father for the first time ever just a few weeks ago in Ohio. Parker, who has never really shown much interest in firearms, has been spending time in his backyard shooting and practicing his aim until he gets sore. While the pair haven’t successfully harvested a deer yet, Parker reportedly enjoyed his time in the woods.

English is only the preliminary discussion phase of making these prostheses on a larger commercial production scale, but no progress will be made until Parker outgrows this model. English doesn’t want to take his bow away from him to take it apart and start taking measurements and drawings. Currently, Parker is the owner of the only prototype made by English’s crew and his father.

“All this discussion about who else this might help was always after the fact,” English said. “The goal was always for Parker to shoot.”

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Grant Hits a Bullseye in South Dakota

November 5, 2012

Grant Hits a Bullseye in South Dakota

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks says a $6,000 grant has been awarded to South Dakota for the purchase of archery equipment.The grant is provided by the Easton Foundation and the National Archery in the Schools organization. Equipment is to be used in schools to implement the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) at their location.

“South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks is excited to partner with local schools and the archery industry to provide archery equipment to students in South Dakota,” said Jason Kool, NASP coordinator for South Dakota.  “NASP provides a great opportunity for our kids to learn a shooting sport in a safe, secure environment.”

Schools receiving grant money include Hamlin County, Lower Brule, Central High School and Stevens High School in Rapid City, and Williams Middle School in Sturgis and Whitewood.

To become eligible for the equipment, each school had staff attend rigorous eight-hour safety and proficiency training. South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks provides training free of charge to all interested schools and individuals.

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