Under the cover of darkness, Marc and Dallas moved into position, to a place that over the years had fondly been named, “The Killing Tree,” Meanwhile, Mike, Jason Suter (Dallas’s step-father) and I hung back in an effort to get a peek of the hunt without disrupting it.
In the pre-dawn light, we could hear the flock of birds still roosting in the trees below us. As the morning light gently started to peek over the horizon, the birds hit the ground with a thunderous flapping of wings. We could hear Marc coaxing the flock toward Dallas with a series of clucks and purrs.Before the sun had an opportunity to peak over the horizon, the hunt was over. Dallas had successfully been able to connect on his first turkey. This morning we had been blessed.
How do so many different people get involved with one young man’s first turkey hunt? Conservation, that’s how. Mike Morgan, the current Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation California State Co-Chair and member since the 1980s, Marc Anderson, a former Chapter Chair and current Chico Chapter banquet emcee, and Jason Suter, a volunteer who’s served both locally and nationally since he was 13 years old. And then there is myself who, like Jason, grew up with RMEF in my home and have also dedicated my life and time in serving this great organization.
Mike and Marc, are the original generation of RMEF, Jason and myself represent the second generation now working together to mentor the third generation of hunter and conservationist, dallas jones.
At his young age, Dallas already has a heart for conservation and service. During the holidays, Dallas volunteers with his step-father, Jason, for the annual Santa Run, which is organized by the Yreka California fire department. Working with donations and the Dollar Tree, Dallas is one of the youth-volunteers who stuffs stockings with toys, and then delivers those toys to local kids in need with Santa and the firemen from the station.
Dallas is also an accomplished bow hunter, having taken his first buck in the fall of 2014 and, thanks in part to the good example of Jason, he is now taking a more active role in advocating for other kids to join him in the outdoors. Last year he mentored an older cousin on a bow hunt who had lost his father in a work-related accident.
The gift that Mike, Marc and Jason are giving to kids by taking them hunting and serving the RMEF is helping to ensure that the next generation has a place to explore the outdoors, experience the growth of wildlife numbers and have the opportunity to hunt available to them.
There is a bond that’s created when we give the precious gift of time, a sense of belonging and a sense of duty to serve that helps to inspire others to do more and be more. I encourage all of you to give the precious gift of time to someone or something that you believe in. Together, we are making a difference.
That morning in the foothills of California, hunting turkeys with three generations of conservationists—all who are doing their part to give back and ensure a bright future for all wildlife, wild places and the next generation of hunters—is one that I will never forget.