If you have never been to one of the many outdoor fundraising events of this nature, I highly recommend it. I attend every year, and it’s a great time for the whole family.
Here's how it usually works: You assemble for an evening of food and fun in a festive atmosphere at a local social hall and raise money for wildlife. Tickets to such an event will usually cost between $50 and $100 per person, and once you arrive you can buy drink tickets for alcoholic beverages and raffle tickets in hopes of winning one of a host of really super prizes.
The first time I ever went to an Elk Foundation dinner, a friend had given me a free ticket as a gift. I felt sort of guilty, so I bought a $20 packet of raffle tickets. Lo and behold, I won a Browning 30-06 rifle! I was delighted and could hardly believe my good fortune. I return year after year in hopes of winning more cool prizes.
Dinner is almost always roast beef or steak, accompanied by all the usual artery-clogging trimmings. You're not there to lose weight, so relax, enjoy yourself and return to your diet the following day.
There is almost always a bevy of beautiful young women selling raffle tickets. Somehow, they seem to sell more tickets than a bunch of ugly guys. Don't get the impression that these dinners are some kind of wild stag party, though, because nothing could be further from the truth. Outdoor fundraisers are truly family-oriented events. You'll see husbands and wives, as well as boys and girls. Most years, I take my son, daughters or sons-in-law along.
Once you have a bunch of raffle tickets, you then have to decide which raffle item you want to try for, since there are actually many individual raffles going on all at once. For example, there might be a raffle for a 7mm Remington Magnum suitable for elk or bear, another raffle for a Henry Youth Model .22, and another for a gun safe, or a spotting scope, or a guided safari to Africa or Alaska. You put your raffle tickets in the bucket of the prize you most want to win. If you already have a 7mm Magnum, you may put all your tickets in the bucket to try to win a Savage shotgun or a Colt .45.
One year, my son was determined that he was going to win a Colt .45, so we put all of our tickets in the Colt raffle bucket. Darned if we didn't win a Colt .45 for my son! He was delighted, and so was I. Oddly enough, you seem to get luckier as you purchase more and more tickets. Of course, it would probably have been cheaper to just buy the gun at the local gun shop, but it’s not nearly as much fun.
No, you aren’t going to win every time, but that’s not the point. You're there to raise money to help pay for habitat and wildlife easements, and even the salaries of the fish and game professionals who manage our resources for us. You buy critical migration routes and desert water guzzlers that keep the wild game alive and prospering.
If you haven't been to one of the many outdoor wildlife fundraisers, by all means get out there and do so. The critters need our help!
Until next week, tight lines.
• Don Moyer is president and CEO of a consulting firm and has more than 20 years’ experience working with the outdoor recreation community, including anglers, hunters, backpackers, environmental groups and the public. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.