You know how the old saying goes…..This Montana, where men are men and bighorn sheep are sacred.
Last weekend, the Montana Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS) held its state banquet and show in Missoula. It was a show worthy of the respect and admiration that bighorn sheep engender among hunters of the high country.
In short, the show was a huge success with many people attending to see the free displays at the Missoula Holiday Inn-Parkside.
The highlight was the display of 23 sheep taken by the late Jim Ford of Missoula. Ford spent most of his life in wild sheep country around the world. The display included wild sheep from Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Asia and Europe.
The banquet sold out its 300 tickets in advance and grossed around $60,000 for bighorn sheep conservation efforts.
The enthusiasm that members of FNAWS have is quite impressive. You can see the passion in the eyes of local guys like current board member Jim Weatherly and Tom Powers, the President of the Montana Chapter, when they talk about bighorn sheep. You can also hear the reverence in which they talk about the wild high country where those sheep live.
I also had a chance to meet the Executive Director of the national organization, Ray Lee. Both Lee and FNAWS are based out of Cody, Wyo.
Lee told me that during the group’s national convention, held in Reno last month, that FNAWS raised four million dollars. They even sold raffle tickets for an airplane to help with the fund-raising.
That’s a lot of dollars aimed at doing good conservation work for a species in need of it. It’s a legacy that Jim Ford would have approved of heartily.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION: The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation now has its own TV show, according to board member Keith Ward of Missoula.
The name of the show is “Elk Country Journal.” It airs on Friday night at 6 p.m. and Saturday morning at 9 a.m. on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN). OLN is on most cable networks in Montana.
The show deserves mention because it is also being produced by Missoula-based Barrett Productions. Barrett is no stranger to this type of show. It also produces national shows for wildlife organizations like Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited. Fly Fishing America and Fly Fishing the World are also a product of Barrett Productions.
CHRISTIAN SPORTSMEN’S FELLOWSHIP: The High Point Chapter of Christian Sportsmen’s Fellowship is hosting its annual fund-raiser at the Holiday Inn-Parkside this Saturday night. Call 406-273-0775 for tickets.
STEELHEAD FISHING: Steelhead fishing is picking up according to Stu Kestner, of Orofino, Idaho. River fluctuation has a lot to do with the success of the anglers so you might want to call him to see how the flows on the Clearwater River are going to be before heading down. Call Kestner at 208-476-5418 for up-to-date information.
WALLEYE SEMINAR: The Flathead Valley Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited of Montana is sponsoring a seminar by PWT and RCL professional walleye angler Jeff Taege. The seminar will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Kalispell Elks on South Hwy 93. If you are a Walleyes Unlimited member, the admission is free. If not, the cost is $7.50 and children are free.
GOVERNOR’S CUP: One more reminder that the Montana Governor’s Cup Walleye Tournament on Fort Peck Reservoir still has 30 openings in the 200-team field. This years tourney will take place July 12-13 out of the Fort Peck Marina, near the dam. First place prize is $10,000 for this tourney which is put on by the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. Call 406-228-2222 to get more information.