In this episode of the Epic Outdoors Podcast we talk with Gray Thornton, President and CEO of the Wild Sheep Foundation. We talk in depth about Bighorn Sheep,Wild Sheep Foundation and its history, challenges, and successes.

Disclaimer: this podcast has been transcribed from the original audio and likely contains errors. This transcription does not reflect the views and opinions of Epic Outdoors LLC. Please consult the original audio with any concerns.

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We enhance wild sheep populations, promote scientific wildlife management.

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We all know that sheep are expensive. Critters to manage.

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Alaska now has $400,000 to do a Gulf sheet management plan.

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Anything to do with Western Big Games.

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To the Epic Outdoors Podcast, powered by Under Armour.

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Hey everybody, Jason Carter and Anna Bronson here with the Epic Outdoors Podcast. We’ve got a special guest with us. We’ve got Gray Thornton, president and c e o of the Wild Chief Foundation with us. So we’re super excited to dive in and visit with him. He’s got a lot of experience, the outdoor industry. But before we get going, we’d like to thank Under Armour for sponsoring these podcasts and all that they do for us here at Epic Outdoors, as well as the hunting community. They’re an awesome partner with us and as well as a supporter of hunting and, and all that we’re doing. So anyway, we do appreciate Under Armour and, and all that they’ve done for us. So we just wanna let everybody know we’ve got a lot of listeners out there that aren’t a member of our service. We, we produce nine magazines a year.

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It’s monthly December through June. Talk about all the Western states, drawing on scale percentages, best units and, and break it down for applying across the west. We’re also available to visit. We, we help guys develop short-term, midterm, long-term hunt strategies, application strategies, as well as helping you buy landowner tags, hunts, and all kinds of different things that deal with Western big game hunting. So anyway, lot of podcast information out there. Of course, that’s free and fun to listen to while you’re traveling. But if you want the detailed information, join, join Epic Outdoors on epic It’s a hundred dollars a year and we get to visit about hunting. This is the time of year when we’re not actually out in the field much. We are in the office 24 7 it feels like, and just cranking it out with different magazine and visiting with guys over the phone and, and talking, hunting and getting prepared for the fall.

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If you need another reason to join right now through the end of February, if you join, we’re giving away your choice a a doll sheet punt to be entered into the, to win a doll sheet punt or a mule deer hunt with us, the epic crew or an elk hunt here in Utah with the Epic crew for anywhere that joins up until until February 28th, you’re entered in that. Or if you refer somebody, if you’re already a member and you refer somebody that joins, make sure that you, you let ’em know to tell ’em that you joined them. You’ll have another name in the hat for that. There’s no limit to the amount of times you can be entered or the amount or guys you can refer, but there are no way to buy tickets for this. So join a membership or referring somebody that does the only way to get in. So epic You can join online or give us a call at (435) 263-0777.

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Anyway, gray, you, you there on the line with us?

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I am. And it’s good to be with you both. Appreciate, appreciate the opportunity for, for being on the program and appreciate Under Armour for sponsoring it. Great, great company, great product. Love them.

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Well, yeah, thanks for making some time with us. We know it’s getting to be a real busy time, a a year for you and holidays are over, but that doesn’t mean relaxation in your neck of the woods. And we’ll get to that here in a bit with

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Your, you’ve probably been working harder than ever, Greg. Yeah. Getting ready for this

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Convention she

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Show, and

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We keep wondering what the holidays mean other than just a bunch of, a bunch of boxes here and packing and grinding and getting ready for us to associate.

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It’s just, it’s the holidays really. The holidays mean a bunch of guilt for not spending time with your family and working too hard. That’s what it means. Exactly.

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No, we really do appreciate it. And, you know, before we dive into maybe, you know, your role with Wash Sheet Foundation, where we know you today, let’s, for some of our listeners, let’s, let’s talk a little bit about your background, you know, where you came from as far as, you know, how you got into hunting in the outdoors and, and things like that.

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And our affiliation with you, gray, we’ve known you for years, clear back when Adam and I were in the hunting fool days, and we’ve dealt with you long, a lot of years.

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Well, yeah, and it’s been, you know, I honestly just feel blessed. It’s interesting. I was just, I flew in from Dallas yesterday, was there their, of course, their convention kicked off yesterday, but I was there. I had to get back to, to just work on our show. But Craig Bodington was recognized as a, as a 18 Weatherby Award winner. And I was just funny, Craig and I call each other cousins because he’s Craig Thornton Bodington. Oh, is he? We go back. I didn’t know that. Oh, we, we, we think so. We don’t know how, but he, you know, his family’s from Kansas. My family on the Thornton side is in that Kansas, Missouri area. So we just call each other because, but it, it was interesting. I, I was listening. He did a fabulous speech. He’s just a good guy. Been around forever. And, and you know, he and, and, and like me, don’t really know where we got the big interest in, in big game hunting.

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His, his dad was a big bird hunter, but Craig had this interest in big game hunting. And, and my, my folks, my dad wasn’t a hunter and still not a hunter. He does little fishing with me. But my folks divorced when I was five. And I, I think what ended up happening though, I had this innate interest to be in the outdoors, thank goodness. And I had a mom who, you know, as a single parent at that, at that time, decided that, you know, she wanted her, her son to be out, you know, doing, doing things outside. So she, about seven, eight years old, she bought me a spin fishing outfit at a place called Gemco in Palo Alto, California. And said, Hey, why don’t you go up to Foothill Park Lake and start fishing? Huh. And so I just got into fishing like there was no tomorrow.

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I thought, man, this is, you know, I just love it. And so with my, you know, mowing lawns and washing cars and, and money earn, started buying all the, the hunting and fishing magazines that I could get my hands on. So, you know, of course back then it was field of strange sports, of field outdoor life and outdoor life. Yeah. And so I, I just read all of them cover to cover and maybe, I don’t know, you know, maybe just reading about, you know, I was reading about fishing, but I was also reading about hunting and I, I, you know, I had this innate desire to do so. So finally got to realize that out there, got outta college. And so I’m a late bloomer when it comes to hunting. But I had a, a Xerox client at the time. I went to work for Xerox Corporation right outta school and had a xerox client, a client that was a hunter. And, and he kind of mentored me, and he’s still my mentor to this day on, on hunting ethics, doing the right thing. But he taught me reloading, taught me how to hunt, hunt. We hunt, we did some deer hunts in California. And then, I guess it was 1986 that I took my first big game animal, which was a, a pronghorn antelope in Wyoming. And, you know, it’s been a, it’s been a fabulous ride ever since.

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Just this, just this last year I was able to complete my pheno all four North American wild sheep, which is something I never, in my wildest dreams I thought I would do. And my retirement account proves that I shouldn’t have.

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But no new, our last time’s gonna be spin on hunting, you

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Know? That’s right. You can’t, you can’t take it with you

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Can. So,

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No, no. So I’ll be working, I’ll be, I’ll be working until I’m hundred years old.

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But yeah,

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Know, that’s a,

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That’s a very unique Yeah. Unique story. You know, it’s, you know, it’s different. It’s almost self-made in a way, you know, you’re, yeah. I guess your mom got you started, but maybe it was just to get you outta the house ’cause you’re like a normal kid and said, I’m bored, mom, what can I do? And she bought you a fishing in pole and said, go to the lake. Yeah. And you know, who knows? I mean, look at you now. You’re c e o of one of the most prominent and well-respected wildlife conservation groups in the west. You know, that’s how simple it can start.

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And isn’t that funny back, you know, back in those days, you know, that was, that was in the sixties and it was, you know, get outta the house and I don’t wanna see you until dark. Yeah. So my, my have my have times changed

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My, my kids wish I would say that. My kids wish I would say that.

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Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, it’s just, I guess a sad state of affairs that we don’t, but I, you know, there’s still some great places in this country that you can do so, and Yeah. Up in, up in Canada as well. But yeah. You know, those, those are the times, you know, get on your bike, go somewhere and you could ride 10, 15 miles away and your mom wouldn’t worry about, you know, if it started getting and weren’t, then you in trouble.

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So, so tell us after college, give us kind of, you know,

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You know, I got, I got into Xerox and I’m a salesman, I guess to heart and did well at Xerox, and then was recruited over to a company called Buroughs Corp, which became Unisys. And I, I guess to some respect, I wish I’d stayed with Xerox because I absolutely love the products, love the love the company, and I just, I did okay at Unisys, but I just, it wasn’t my passion. Yeah. And in the, in the eighties, I was in California and some of the political upheaval there, funny, I once a good friend of mine, Jim Zubo, and, and Jim asked me, how did you get into the conservation business? And I said, Jim, I got into the conservation business about how you got outta it black. So I got, I got involved in and formed a political action committee in California in my twenties called Valley Coalition Constitutional Rights to fight the Assault Weapon ban in California, and a bunch of other anti-gun geez. Programs that they had going on and, and learned early that, you know, if you had a, if you had a a, a group of people behind you and had a wee bit of money, you actually had a political voice that they listened to. Wow. So was very, very active in that. I probably spent probably, I spent more time working on coalition than I did.

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Weren’t a good Are you telling us you weren’t a good employee?

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I was an Okay. But

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Your priorities were straights, what I’m hearing your priorities were was straight. I was a

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Good volunteer. Yeah. Yeah. But long and short of it, I was sitting in my office at Bakersfield, California and reading Safari Times newspaper, and they were looking, safari Club International in 1990 was looking for someone to build a marketing program and, and build their membership and their chapter base. So I contact them and said, I’d like to apply for the job, and flew in and walked into at them. And gentleman’s name was Jim Morehouse, who was the executive director, and Warren Parker was the president. I walked in with a marketing plan and said, this is what I was gonna do for you. And they, they, they chuckled and, and said, well, when can you start?

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Really? What do you think, what do you think? They chuckled. They’re just like, here’s some naive whipper snapper from California walking in here, gonna tell us how to run this thing.

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But no one had walked into the marketing plan.

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Oh, I got you. And I said,

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This is, you know, this is, this is what I can do for you, but I didn’t give you the full, but if you want the full, you gotta hire me. Yeah,

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Yeah. You teased him,

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Teased him a little bit, and they hired you a little,

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A little, a little

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Gut. Well, you gotta, but anyway, it’s one thing to have a plan, but somebody’s gotta initiate it and follow through. And that’s what you’ve probably proven, you know, in your past history that you can follow through. Exactly.

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So, so they, they said, well, when can you start? And, and guys, you know, being a, being a man with my priorities straight, I had our annual Colorado elk and Deer hunt plan, and I thought, well shoot, you know, I said, I gotta give, you know, I gotta give Unisys, you know, two, three weeks notice. And, and so I risked it. I looked at Warren Parker and I said, well guys, I’ve, I’ve got an elk hunt planned and I gotta give Unisys, you know, the, the a proper notice. So I can’t start until, and I, you know, I added two weeks onto my elcon. Yeah,

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And I thought, man, is that a gutsy thing to do? I, you know, I shouldn’t be doing this. And Warren, in his, in his way, kind of had a scratchy voice and he says, well, great. Lemme tell you something, and this organization, that’s a valid excuse. And I

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Thought, well,

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Right thing. So anyway,

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You’re hired

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To work for and poured myself into it. I, I was a big aficionado, never been there, but a big aficionado safari and, and African hunting and dreamed of Africa, which is rather odd that here I sit at the C desk at Wild North American, you know, instead of Yeah, yeah. Instead of pouring into Jack O’Connor and, and, and those books I was reading Ro and Bell and Caps Stick and Bingington. And anyway, it suited me, I was very, very enjoyed. SS c I left there after seven years, I joined them when they had 15,000 members. And I departed as their membership director, chapter development director with 30,000 members. So we did a

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Over double, we did

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A good job of, of growing them with a fabulous group of volunteers, and then went to Dallas Safari Club and Dallas had about 600 members and 200 booths when I went there in about November, 1997. And after a wonderful 11 years with that fabulous organization, we had grown their, their membership to nearly 4,000 people and about a thousand exhibitors. So

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That’s unbelievable.

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Had a, had a, had a very good 18 year run in the Safari Club. And then, and then came really wanted to work more in conservation, came to, came to Wild Chief Foundation in 2008.

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Well, that, know, the, the Dallas is, is pretty interesting. Adam and I, we’re gonna, you know, we wanna do a booth there and, and start hitting that. And it’s just unbelievable how that place has grown. They’ve got waiting lists and people, and it is just crazy. And, and for you to walk in at 600 members and move it to 4,000, it’s just very impressive waiting

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List. Yeah. So you, because of your work, it’s hard to, hard for little guys like us to get into that show.

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Well, yeah. Thanks Gary.

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Lemme what it was, it was, you know, it was a, it was a fabulous and is a fabulous team effort. DSC has their, you know, back then we called them and they still do the dsc and it really wasn’t hundred volunteers. It was kind of close 500. Yeah. Yeah. But it, it was done with a culture and a, a desire to, to, you know, back then, we don’t wanna be the biggest, we just wanna be the best. Yeah. It’s great. Great organization. It’s unbelievable convention now. And

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Well, it’s, and it’s, you’re

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Got executive director Cory Mason, and he’s doing a fabulous job.

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Well, and very, very unique that a, that a chapter, not a national organization, but a chapter of an, of a national organization could, can rise to that level is pretty, pretty spectacular. Because, you know, we all, this is the time of year we’re getting into where we go to all of our national conventions, and then there’s Dallas Safari Club that’s, you know, in with all the big boys, you know, a chapter, you know, in essence. But it’s much more than that. So was that a seamless you left, right there, right? To Wild Sheep? That’s how I remember it. We knew you. Yeah. I guess first at Dallas. Dallas, S c i. But you, it was seamless, wasn’t it? It went straight from there to Yeah.

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And, and, and Dallas, actually, Dallas broke away. Dallas, Houston, Sacramento, and South Florida broke away from in 1982.

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Yeah. And they’re their own Dallas, their own entity basically.

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They’re, yeah. So they, yeah, they’re autonomous organizations. Okay. They’re often confused as Dallas Sci, but it’s really United, Dallas Safari Club. Yes. And, but yeah, no, I I I, I had a, I was on a contract back then and, and you know, it was, it was just time to, you know, I, I wanted to be more involved in conservation 18 year run or at that point, 17 year run with, with the Safari Club. And we were coming into my contract negotiation for another three year deal. And, and I announced that, you know, I, I, I don’t wanna renew, but I love this organization. I had a nine month notice that I needed to give. And so I gave the nine month notice and then said, look, you got a new president coming in, why don’t I spend 12 months? You, I loved, you know, I loved the organization. Wasn’t problem with leaving. So I, I gave an effective years’ notice. And we, we then started a fir, you know, a search and hired Ben Carter and Ben kind of took it to the new, the next level after me. So it was a, it was a, it was a seamless departure for, from Dallas, because we had, at that we’d hired a deputy executive director, if you’ll, and so he worked under me, and then I left the end of March and

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Took a month off to get married and moved to Wyoming and

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Lot of May,

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May, May 1st

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Foundation. Geez. Yeah. Go figure. That’s like your figure. That’s like you’re 20 years old. 20 years old all over again. Got married, new chapter, and you’re like, move new house. Took Kelly on a honeymoon to Cody, Wyoming. Yeah. There,

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There you go, Kelly. Well, we did, we did go bone fishing. Oh, okay. We, we wasn’t quite, we got married, we married in, in February, had to come back to work, and then yeah, we took off, went bone fishing, and then I started in Cody, Wyoming with Wild Foundation.

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Well, and you know, Dallas and one last little plug for Dallas Safari Club as there, they’ve got a New Mexico chapter now. I couldn’t, I was shocked. I just learned that yesterday.

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Yeah, yeah. They’ve, they’ve started, they, they’ve actually got one up in Maine as well. Oh, do they? So, so they’ve, they’ve, they’ve branched out again, doing the, doing an exceptional job and hats off, hats off to them.

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So now are to the current Wild Sheet Foundation, did they approach you or did you apply? How did you, how did that happen? And then

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I, I had, I had this wild hair that I, that I could be a consultant. And so I was gonna hang out a shingle. I wanted to move to Wyoming. I’d given a speech and, and actually c in Europe. And a member of Sheep Foundation back then had heard it was still pH back then. And I said I was gonna move to Wyoming and do some consulting work. I had no idea what I was gonna do. And so anyway, long and short of it had come, you know, I poured myself into Dallas Safari Club for the last year. In the summer before my departure, which was gonna be the end of, end of March, I realized that I had really no gig set up for the future. I was gonna go into the convention crunch time of the fall of, I might find myself at the end of March.

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There in somewhere in, I did start visiting Boone Time. He said, well, we’d like to hire you as a consultant. And I thought, well, at least I got a gig here. And then DSC said that, you know, they’d like me to stay on and do some consultant work them. Okay, well, maybe, yeah, maybe I could still be in grits and beans. And in the fall, I was actually working with Andy Hoey of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and possibly working for them. And in the fall of 20 announced that resign. So we worked a little different program and I agreed to come on in May of c of the later to become Chief Foundation in Dan. Yeah. So, of course that was during a very, very yeah. Tumultuous time for the foundation. I don’t wanna spend a lot of time, well,

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Bill, let’s let’s talk about it a little’s

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Garbage, but

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No, but I think, I think, I think we should talk about it a little bit. I think it’s, it shows, I mean, you’re still there, you’re still cranking. It’s stronger, strong as it’s ever been. And sometimes those rough times help help companies or foundations or whatever grow and be solid and un unified. It unifies people. It unifies your followers and the people that support you. And so I think it, looking back on it during the time was pretty rough. But looking back on it, I’d just like to know your thoughts if you think it was healthy, if you, you know, rather not talk about it or think about it at all and glad those times are over.

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No, I think you’re, I think you’re spot on. And, and, and what it does is it, it it, you know, and I’ll give a few vignettes on why it, it did have an important and positive impact on, on Wild Sheet Foundation, because what it does is have us now keep a laser focus on our mission and purpose. But back in 2005, I think it was the industry got word that there was a intellectual property dispute between and Grand Slam Club ovis. Yeah. Dennis Campbell served on the board of directors of, and GCO operated within, I think at that point, it might just have been Grand Slam Club, but I may be able to, I guess it was g it added Ovis and they kind of operated within the, the, the foundation in North America. Wild Grand Slam Club had a booth at the show. Dennis was the record keeper for the Grand Slam recognition. Yeah. The Grand Slam Awards were given at the convention. But Dennis said, decided that he was gonna go on his own and which, you know, he has every right to do so. And he at the time had had, he owned the rights to Grand Slam Club, but the Grand Slam moniker had not been trademarked. It, it had been used by a number of companies in a number of ways. You know, Eastern Archery had it, ho Archery had it. Major league, major League Baseball. Yeah. I mean, breakfast at Denny’s, major, major League Baseball, Denny’s,

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Denny’s, the Grand Slam Breakfast,

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Denny’s World Championship Tennis. It’s funny enough, I hear that Andre August is actually the owner of the term Grand Slam as it applies to tenant. I’m not sure if that’s absolute, but just kind of a little one of those trivia things. Yeah. Anyway, long and short of it, it, Dennis, Dennis copyrighted the term Grand Slam.

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That’s it contains the

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Hunting Super Slam, which Yes. With respect to she before North American. Yeah. Yeah. For North American wild sheep. So, and he also trademarked a term that was used by the International Sheep Under Association, which is now defunct called Isha, which was a super slam, which was the Grand Slam plus

00:24:11:20 –> 00:24:12:16

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Eight other world sheep. Yeah,

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Yeah. World sheep. And so anyway, he, he did it, it legally, and he did it. Now, you know, anyone can argue about the, whether it’s right or wrong, ethics. Ethics.

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Not gonna sit here and argue that Did, did. Sure. And, but at the time, you know, it was a term that people been using and Well, and unfortunately continued to use the term and

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Because you always had, and it’s all we’d ever rolled off our tongues, but, hey, how many sheep do you need for your slam? Or when did you get your slam? Exactly. I mean, it’s just exactly what we always ever said. Yeah.

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So long and short of it, after a cease and desist letter and a few other perps and, and mistakes made along the way, instead of settling this two organizations within our own community got in a row split and then got into a lawsuit. Yeah. And I was actually interviewing with Dan and Lou when the, the, before they went to court and I said, now you guys, you’re gonna settle this, aren’t you? Yeah. I

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Mean, come on, you’re whatcha getting into, yeah. What am I jumping into here? Geez,

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Let’s not waste conservation dollars on, you know, what we call four dead sheet. Sure.

00:25:36:03 –> 00:26:54:17
You know, and that’s really what we were talking about. So long and short of it, they didn’t, they got into a lawsuit, they, they lost and they lost a jury trial. They lost another judge judgment on it. And then sadly continued to fight. And this is, this is when I was with them, I’m trying to settle the thing, and they, they decided maybe a different attorney and I, I resigned. I actually resigned and accepted the executive director position, bar Club International in 10. I said, I’m not gonna, if we’re gonna continue to fight this thing, I’m not gonna be a part of it. Yeah. I’m not waste not on my want. Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, the good news, ISED, I ended up rescinding, my resignations stayed on, but I just, I just thought it was the only honorable thing to do because I, at the time, their leadership, you know, the, the Chief foundation leadership said, no, you know, you’re not gonna work on solving this. We’re just gonna fight it. Yeah. And I, you know, I mean, if, if you, if you can’t be a C E O, then you need to step down. And so I offered to step down and I said, no, actually we need to, we wanna stay. And well,

00:26:54:19 –> 00:26:54:29
It’s good.

00:26:55:07 –> 00:26:56:23
It’s goods do, do settle it

00:26:57:12 –> 00:27:27:08
Because you brought a, because you brought a different perspective. Like a, you heard from the outside, you weren’t Yeah. You weren’t. When you’re right in the middle of the fight. I mean, you can’t back down. And so you get tough guys that are businessmen that have, you know, built their empires in each of their, you know, respective industries and they’re just, they’re smart men that are, that just don’t back down. That’s not what you do. That’s not these guys’ personalities. So it’s nice that you came in as a third party from a little bit different perspective and could help that.

00:27:29:07 –> 00:28:32:17
Well, and it, it, you know, so here’s the silver lining and, and, and hence the, the story on dark times. You know, we then I I, I kept my, one of the statements I’d made to the board early on is, you know, you, you all, you all need to get Dennis Campbell and just go outta your rifle and instead put him in a rear view mirror. And finally in October, November of Dennis and I agreed on a settlement that I think was fair, it was fair to gso, they had rightfully won, both organizations had suffered greatly. The only person that really won were the attorneys. Yeah. And, but we, you know, we decided, and one thing that was nice as part of the settlement was joint conservation projects. Earlier I had a deal that would’ve been about $600,000, but, but that got torpedoed by some poor moves.

00:28:32:20 –> 00:29:24:17
But anyway, at the end, we had $300,000. But instead of just gonna, as part of a settlement was gonna go to conservation and our industry from both organizations with Wsf writing a check. So it was kind of a, you know, Dennis, let’s let’s do something to apologize to our community for being, but it took, it took two to Tango, you know, and it, it took two, you know, you know what’s in a sandbox comparing their, you know what Yeah. And, and we, you know, and so he agreed. And rightfully so, we, you know, she foundation funded the product projects. And for three years we co-funded about a hundred thousand dollars, you know, of, of, or, or at least co co-edited

00:29:24:17 –> 00:29:26:26
Initiated whatever. It’s Yeah, you both involved

00:29:26:28 –> 00:29:58:24
Foundation wrote the check because it was, you know, we were the one that lost. And so the good news is, is, you know, Dennis and I have kind of a hot phone and a red phone, and if there’s ever a problem, him call him. And his pledge to me is sure he’s gonna pick up the phone to call me. And, you know, we just got through a situation where Dallas Safari Club here, my old buddies actually put their convention on top of ours in 2019. And I learned it five days before Christmas.

00:29:59:01 –> 00:30:15:05
We just saw that last night. We saw that, we saw you guys, they’re, they’re moving to mid-January. You guys are back into February and main s sc in, and the fir the first of the January. It’s like, it, it’s gotta be a lot to juggle. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not easy.

00:30:15:14 –> 00:30:26:10
You guys are always in January to move it to February. Kind of a big deal. And so it just, I can see how you got people don’t, shouldn’t don’t want to and shouldn’t schedule on top of each other. It’s tough.

00:30:26:24 –> 00:31:17:23
Well, you know, so, hey, I understand that Dallas had a problem, you know, but just don’t wait two years to tell us. And we find out five days before Christmas and a year out. So anyway, we got it sorted out. But, you know, the, the moral of the story is one of our options was to move on top of disco in 2019. And I immediately reached out to Dennis Campbell and said, Hey Dennis, I got a problem. And here’s the situation, here’s my, but you know, tell you what, I just wanna confirm your 2019 dates. Yeah. And if those are correct, then we would be on top of you, and we’re not gonna do that. Yeah, yeah. And he appreciated it. So, you know, so here, you know, you know, we were obviously were not the the biggest friendly organizations in the past, but you know what, for the industry Yeah.

00:31:18:00 –> 00:32:05:08
We all need to work together. And the three of us on this phone know that, you know, Benjamin and Franklin said, you know, we better hang together because we’ll surely hang separately. So, you know, the good news is that you Yes. It’s a puzzle trying to fit the big shows together. Dallas, s e i, wild cheek shot, W H C E, I mean it, you know, and it, and it’s, you know, there’s all kind of a, a succession of the shows that work in Houston Safari Club, throw know there’s great organization. Throw them in. Anyway, so I spent, I spent five days before Christmas on the phone with Houston, Dallas Sci and gco, and we, we got all the dates sorted out, and I, we’ve got on the foundation website.

00:32:05:18 –> 00:32:11:05
Oh, I just printed it out last night. It’s, its nice. It’s let’s us plan stuff. We’re the keepers.

00:32:11:19 –> 00:32:18:15
Yeah. We’re the keepers of the, I started that back at Dallas and I just kept it going at sheep, just so we could all know

00:32:19:03 –> 00:32:19:29
Yep. For years

00:32:20:04 –> 00:32:20:28
Down the road. One place,

00:32:20:28 –> 00:32:23:06
Here’s, here’s the, here’s the show. So anyway,

00:32:23:11 –> 00:32:25:09
Oh, it’s very nice schedule, clear out. But

00:32:25:09 –> 00:33:47:08
Here’s, here’s the, here’s the final on the, on the, the gist side. You know, I made the comment that, you know, nowhere in our old mission statement was there anything about what you call for dead sheep. We upgraded our mission statements and updated it in 12. We review it every single year at our spring meeting, every board meeting, I go through our mission statements. We include the vision, a purpose, a mission, and our corporate values. And I ask our board and demand that our board view and judge their discussions, their deliberations and their decisions through the prism of that mission statement. During a one day meeting or a two day meeting, every single office in every single public space in the We Chief Foundation headquarters in Bozeman, and our satellite office in Cody has a mission statement on the wall. And, you know, I couldn’t assure you that those dark times of 2005 to 2010 are reflected in that there will not now, that that garbage will not happen again.

00:33:47:15 –> 00:34:09:01
So yeah, that’s, yeah, that’s galvanized the mission statement and, and had it maybe more to the for, you know, it’s not just a, here’s a two sentence mantra. We, we, we put in our magazine to say we live by or whatever. We’re actually really are trying to govern the whole steer the whole ship with that right out on the windshield, basically.

00:34:09:06 –> 00:34:33:26
Yeah. And I got, I mean, I’ve got it pulled up here. Do you, and it, it says on your mission statement, we enhance wild, cheap populations, promote scientific wildlife management, educate the public and youth on sustainable use and the conservation benefits of hunting while promoting the interests of Hunter. You know, does that change or is that something you’re gonna, you, you stick to that same mission statement for here on out or,

00:34:34:26 –> 00:35:09:00
You know, we, we, we review it. So for, you know, for example, the vision, we have not changed the purpose. Used to, you know, the purpose of wild sheep back then was to put sheep on the mountain. Yep. Well, we, we put a lot of sheep on the mountain, about 24,000 sheep and about 14 actions. But as disease became more and more the issue that, that was impeding the enhancement of wild sheep, we added. Yeah. So that was, that was

00:35:09:10 –> 00:35:10:02
To put in keep

00:35:10:10 –> 00:35:26:27
Before my time. So put in, keep sheep on the mountain. And then just last year actually, thousand 16, we added wild, we’d gone back and forth and back and forth on, you know, well, everyone knows what it’s, well some people don’t.

00:35:27:03 –> 00:35:30:07
Maybe better. Yeah. You don’t, you don’t want the, we’re

00:35:30:07 –> 00:35:31:03
The domestic sheep guys.

00:35:31:07 –> 00:35:39:20
You don’t want the wool industry to say, well, you’re right there. It says you’re gonna keep sheep on the mountain, and now you’re trying to take mine off. You wanna clarify what you really mean?

00:35:40:10 –> 00:35:43:16
You wanna buy me out and get these domestics outta your sheep? I don’t get it.

00:35:44:12 –> 00:36:50:11
Exactly. And so, and then, you know, we, we tweak back also in 2016, in October board meeting, we, we tweaked, we, it used to say pro promote professional wildlife management, and we changed the terms of scientific. So, you know, our, our mission statement, and we learned this actually from Larry Potterfield, the Midway usa. And we, we modeled our mission statement off of kids and plagiarized greatly. And I gave him all the credit and said, Larry, we’re gonna do this. He says, go for it, but made it ours. But his, his mission statement has a vision, a purpose of mission and values. And we do, we take them seriously. We, you know, we, we look at the values and we have made decisions on who we work with and what we do based on those corporate values on going, well wait minute, those you, that group or that entity or that outfit does not share the same values that we have, so we will not work with them, or we won’t go into partnership.

00:36:50:21 –> 00:37:23:15
So we take it seriously. We, you know, we look at it every, you know, it’s not just window dressing, it’s not just something in the magazine. It’s something that we look at at every board meeting and, and go, okay, we’re gonna, you know, we’re gonna, we’re gonna act through the prism of this mission statement. And then annually we, we make sure that it’s still relevant. You know, Larry Potterfield, the Midway USA used to be a catalog company. Yeah, yeah. Well now they’re primarily an online company. Yeah. So they changed their mission statement to say we’re a online company. So anyway. Well,

00:37:23:15 –> 00:38:18:09
When things change Yeah. As we roll a little bit, but the, but the gist of it is there. Yeah. And throughout, you know, throughout my, my life and, and, and obviously the last 20 years primarily being a lot more involved in sheep and loving sheep and outfitting for sheep and, and just love and sheep, you’ve, you hit, you mentioned something earlier about what’s changed and, and that has a lot about the research and what we know about wild sheep and specifically diseases and, and pathogens that affect them, and separation between domestic sheep and goats. And so having, having all that be reflected more accurately in what your mission and your theme and vision all that is, is shows so you’re alive and working and, and yeah. Not resting on what you thought, you know, you’re resting on what you, you wanna know now, but what you wanna know more of or nor in the future. Well,

00:38:18:21 –> 00:39:11:13
And you’re, you’re so right. I mean, every time we turn over another rock on this, on this disease issue, you know, we, we find, you know, four more rocks that that need to be looked at, addressed and, and dealt with. But, you know, it, it, it kind of gets back to where, you know, know we have become laser fish, you know, focused on our mission. Our fundraising is laser focused in the mission. And, you know, we’ve got a, a fairly small footprint as an organization, only about 7,000 members, but we annually raise and direct to our mission program more than 4 million a year. Last year we did 4.71 million directed to mission program, 18 million. That this little organization that loves sheep directed to wild sheep conservation in the last four years. That

00:39:11:19 –> 00:39:12:25
You’re a that’s,

00:39:13:07 –> 00:39:13:13

00:39:13:13 –> 00:40:13:05
Proud. Oh, it is. And you’re, you’re right. You’re, and there’s other single species organizations we know. There’s, there’s Mule Deer Foundation, there’s Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, there’s n wtf, turkeys, you know, there’s those. But you’re, you are a, even a smaller niche of a single species because of the, you know, there’s not millions and millions of elk and, and or sheep. Like there are deer and elk. You’ve got a lot, you know, not smaller pool. And, and you’re pulling from people that yeah, they may dream or wanna hunt sheep, but till somebody gets to taste sheep hunting, usually maybe through drawing a permit in a western state, they don’t, that doesn’t usually click. And I see this a lot of times as an outfitters, I maybe take people on their first sheet hunt and then just watch ’em go hog wild for the next five or 10 years trying to drive your tag. They can or save their pennies to go up north. So you’re dealing with a, with a species that, that people are very passionate about, but it’s not widespread. Not everybody gets to partake

00:40:13:05 –> 00:40:21:20
Of it. Everybody’s a mule deer hunter. Yeah. Sheep hunters are mule deer hunters. Yeah. Sheep hunters are elk hunters, but elk and deer hunters aren’t always sheep hunters. You’re just dealing with a smaller Yeah. Niche group. Yeah.

00:40:22:22 –> 00:40:59:19
And so you, you have to make a lot of what, what you have, and you hit, you know, your, your membership isn’t what an R M E F can, and there’s reasons like we just discussed for that. But the membership that you have, and you, you know, the money you can raise with such a low membership is astounding. And, and anybody that’s gone to the sheep show, and we’ll get to the sheep show here in a minute or other local chapter and affiliate events, it’s not hard to pick up and realize that how passionate sheep hunters are about what they love to do and what they love to put their money to and, and all that. So

00:40:59:29 –> 00:41:35:29
Yeah. And I think what’s awesome, great too is obviously during the lawsuit and some of that, you came, you know, the financial end of, of the organization was questioned to a degree and, and challenged to, to put it lightly. And so to be, now we’re in 2018, you guys are cranking, you are putting, and sheeping keep on putting and keeping wild sheep on the mountain and able to do so with, you know, a financial stability that once wasn’t there. And so anyway, I think that’s impressive and goes a lot to, toward the validity, validity of the organization.

00:41:37:18 –> 00:42:31:16
Well, and, and you guys nailed it just on the, you know, the passion that, that, you know, sheep hunter or, or you know, or aspiring she hunter. And, and that’s, you know, that’s the thing. I mean, you, you know, there’s, there’s such an aspirational side to our organization. You know, we have the less than one club, we’ve got, you know, 13 aspirational hunters that pile and we’ll probably have 1500 in the room. We’re doing it in the expo hall this year in Reno for our less than one club reception that will give away, you know, three doll sheep hunts to just, to those that haven’t yet taken a sheep. And that’s just, that’s so exciting. You know, that is so exciting. So, you know, and, and, and the, it’s either good and bad. You know, we joke about she fever and, and all that, but I mean, that happened to, I took, I went sheet hunting for the first time in 2000.

00:42:32:08 –> 00:43:31:22
Didn’t really take it seriously. I was living in Dallas. I was not in the shape. I shoulda been, I mean, I thought that I could around in my coat, boots, backpack, you know, 30 minutes on flat ground in Dallas and be in shape. And my, you know what? And it wasn’t 13 years later that I went on my second sheep hunt and, and got around. But it, it did, it changed, it absolutely changed my, my life. And there is something about sheep, you know, there’s just no doubt about it. And you, you know, you do, you, you know, you’re applying for all the places that you possibly could, could draw. And it’s exciting when someone does. And, and, and if you can go on a sheet hunt and help a buddy, that’s, that’s almost just as good as going with myself or with me. And my stupid problem right now as I’ve got a wife that’s a sheet hunter. So you know, another reason why I’ll be working until I’m a hundred years old. You’ve got

00:43:31:22 –> 00:43:33:23
Your phs and now she wants hers.

00:43:35:00 –> 00:43:39:20
Absolutely. She says, you, you can’t even think about sheath hunting until, you know, until me, so

00:43:39:27 –> 00:43:45:28
You’re talking about your lack of retirement, your lack of your retirement debt that funds. It’s not,

00:43:46:02 –> 00:44:04:26
But, but how fabulous is it to be in the mountains and, and share, and you guys know it, you know, to share that passion with someone. I just, you know, so anyway, very, very blessed and yes, you know, no retirement, but you know what, we’re gonna be, she left

00:44:05:09 –> 00:44:39:26
Gray. I want to, I wanna talk just a little bit, just breakdown for their listeners. A lot of them are not maybe members of W S F, although we’re encouraging them to be. Just give us the basics. Obviously you’ve got the mothership up in Bozeman and then, and then how do the other chapters and affiliates work? I know like they’ve got their own, a lot of them are, are broke off on their own a little bit, but you’re endorsing them to a degree. And then let’s talk about that and then the funds, and then choosing some of the projects and some of the projects you’re currently working on or are planning. Let’s just kind of give a basic breakdown of that.

00:44:41:10 –> 00:45:38:29
You somewhat unique. Well, I guess it’s unique when, when, when son was creating its chapter structure, first there were, there were organizations like feno already out there, fraternities of the desert, big Horn, Rocky Mountain, big Horn Society, great regional organizations focusing, you know, in, in the fraternity, you know, on desert big on on big society in Colorado. Yeah. N Nevada Big, you know, I mean you had, you had these organizations out there, you know, the pH started in 1977 as as a mothership. But our chapters even with, you know, there’s affiliates that don’t share our name, but our chapters were set up for whatever reason, completely autonomous. So, you know, as, as a Montana chapter member, I’m not a member. And that could be Montana Chapter of the Wild She Foundation or back then I was not a member of fan of national apparently. Yeah. Of national.

00:45:39:06 –> 00:45:42:10
Even though you of the state, the individual state. Exactly.

00:45:42:18 –> 00:46:34:00
Yeah, exactly. Strange. You know, and I mean, that’s a podcast on its own on why. Yeah. But that’s, so anyway, we’ve, what we’ve done over, over the, you know, the course of the last four or five years anyway, is, you know, look at different ways that we can bring ours, you know, our, our community kind of within the poll. So we created a joint membership program, but really is based on SS C i’s structure, and we’ve got eight, eight chapters in affiliates that are now taking part in it where we provide their membership renewal and fulfillment services. And those are called joint chapters in affiliate. And those organizations, when you join them, you’re also a, a member of the national. So we have dis discounted regular membership and discounted life membership. So you go on our website and you see kind of a tiered approach.

00:46:34:05 –> 00:47:35:22
You know, you, you, you sign up for joining the Wild Sheep Foundation at what would be 45 annually in Las Vegas, Nevada. And you type in your, your zip code and it recognized, hey, you’re in Las Vegas, Nevada, would you like to join the fraternity of the Desert Bighorn as well? Knock five off of the foundation dues and knock five off the fraternity dos, link the two together. And now you’re a member of a local group, a regional group that’s got work projects to do. They’ve got, you know, regional meetings, regional activities, and you’re a member of the mothership that’s doing work all over North America, around the world. So yeah, that’s working out really well and it’s good, it’s helped us increase our membership and reach Sure. And it’s provided a great service Sure. To those and affiliates that are now using the staff at, well she foundation to do their fulfillment because, you know, no one in a chapter wants to lick envelopes and send out renewal.

00:47:35:26 –> 00:47:51:19
Yeah. And so you generating revenue, you generate it largely from the convention donors, all kinds of, you know, is that, I mean that’s basically that, and then you have some membership dues, but for the most part, it’s the convention that we’re talking about here, January 18th through the 20th.

00:47:52:25 –> 00:48:11:06
Yes. Our, our funding model is, you know, I call it a bake sale for conservation similar to Dallas, similar, similar to, to F c I, you know, we, we basically operate at a loss if you’ll operationally, because membership dues don’t, you know, from membership dues, you’re not gonna put 4.7 million

00:48:11:25 –> 00:48:12:24
On the ground. No, that’s right.

00:48:12:27 –> 00:49:45:01
You know, you’re just not, we know that. So, so our, our bake sale is, is our annual convention. It’s coming up in, in Reno, you said the 18th through 20th of January at the Arena Parks Convention Center. We’ve got banquets starting actually Wednesday the 17th and go through Saturday. Sure. And the funding model there is, is similar to, you know, similar to the other national organizations. You know, we’ve got a big expo that you, you know, you, you know, we, we rent the hall and then we sublease the, the space to exhibitors and just fabulous group of exhibitors there. Then we have our auctions and, and where Wild Seed Foundation is, is unique as you know, we have the, the special permits. We’ve got 31 special permits that we sell primarily for, for Sheet. You know, there’s other or great organizations Yield, deer Foundation, sfw that are, that are selling, you know, mule deer tags and elk tags at W Hce. But, you know, our two organizations, or our two events are kind of the premier, you know, the marquee permit sales. So we do and sell a, you know, we’re selling 31 special permits this year. We’ll direct a little over 3.2, 3.3 million to state, provincial and agencies from those permit sales. Yeah. So those are, some of them are complete pass throughs you while Street Foundation sells it. Yeah. And directs 100% of it to Yeah. You know, to Nevada or Arizona

00:49:46:22 –> 00:49:56:10
Where statute requires that. Yeah. Where some state statutes and other times you get five or 10% or whatever the state allows to keep it for marketing. Why whatnot. Yeah.

00:49:56:29 –> 00:50:15:06
Typically 10% and then we, we turn around and, you know, when you do the math, okay, so we do 3 million in permits, but we did 1.7 million or or 4.7 million in, in contributions and, and grant aid to mission programs. Well, where does the 1.7 come

00:50:15:06 –> 00:50:15:20
From? Yeah.

00:50:16:03 –> 00:51:27:07
You know, 3 million from permits. There’s another 1.7 WSFS directed admission programs from operational dollars that comes from the, you know, the net proceeds from the convention, you know, the exhibitors, the auctions, the raffles, the drawing, the selling hunts. Yep. And then, and then our donors, you know, we have donor societies that just un you know, the, the altruism of the Wild Sheep Foundation member never ceases to, we have our Marco Polo Society, our Legacy Society, and our Chadwick Ram Society. Our Chadwick Ram Society, we doubled in size last year and we have a goal of 100 new Chadwick Ram Society members enlisting at our show in Reno. And as a little, a little kiss, we purchased a full boat, stone sheet hunt with Yukon Stone Outfitters includes the charter flight, the, the license and tag fees, you know, about a 50,000 package. And one of our Cedric Ranch society members, either, either current or new is gonna win it when we draw it in at our chapter affiliate summit in, in June. And

00:51:27:07 –> 00:51:38:18
What does it, what does it take to, to, what does a pledge for Chadwick Graham I know vary, I know Marco Polo’s different. That’s basically what the different labels are. Different Marco

00:51:38:22 –> 00:52:46:00
Donation, those real, real heady guys. Not us regular folks, but Marco Polo Society is gift to Wildep Foundation. You can break that down into 10 years. 10, yeah. Yeah. And that, I mean that’s, that’s, that’s a, that’s a tough nut to crack. Our goal is 100 Marco Polo Society members. We currently have 58, so we’ve got 40 42 to go. I created the, the Chadwick Ram Society in 13 in the fall to give us regular folks an opportunity to give and be in a society so that society is at the starting level 25 or 50 a year for 10 years. Yeah. Up to or a year of a tax deductible donation over 10 years. Yeah. And what we’re doing on this hunt is for every two that paid into your pledge now, so every two 50 that you paid into your pledge, you get a ticket into the drawing for the hunt

00:52:46:09 –> 00:52:49:24
Kinda Yeah. Bonus points almost for every two 50 you’ve spent. Yeah,

00:52:50:05 –> 00:54:05:10
Yeah. There you go. So anyway, work, work that, well, we’re gonna have a Chadwick ran society area near our membership booth with couches and displays and people telling you about it. But, you know, we take that money and there’s three places you could dedicate it. You could put it into area greatest need, and often we’ll go into our conservation revolving fund or our grant need programs, or you could direct it to our endowment fund, which is a completely endowed fund that the principal of the corpus can never be touched. We take about the interest percent off per year. Yeah, yeah. 4% off a year that we, we direct into our grant need program or our conservation fund, which is a quasi endowed fund. We treat it as an endowment. We invest it like an endowment. We take 4% off per year. But if, for example, we find through at was, you know, state university, the silver bullet that could solve the domestic chief wild disease issue, we have the ability through a two-thirds majority vote to the board to use those donor dollars, you know, direct 1.5 million or whatever into Tom’s research. So that’s three, three buckets we put it in.

00:54:05:22 –> 00:54:53:08
That’s smart. I mean, I, I’ve been involved a little bit to, you know, at the state level of our organization and, and because of that, I’ve attended some of the meetings where you and your board have explained some of that and the, the foresight, you know, for what if and when we need this, how can we tap into it, is very well thought out. And, and obviously as we talked about earlier, a lot of great minds in the world, a lot of great businessmen. We usually board board members or just passionate sheet people, a lot of people that know how to, you know, what, where you’ve come in the last six, eight years, since you don’t call it rock bottom, so to speak, to the stability and the, the counts. I mean, you guys publish that every year in, in the Wild Sheet magazine. Is is very astounding.

00:54:53:08 –> 00:55:44:10
And, and one thing I wanna point out, we’ve, we’ve kind of dived into it, is how really commendable, I believe it is, how you guys have tried to include everybody. We, we all know that sheep are expensive critters to manage. They, they aren’t elk, you know, elk just take care of themselves, but sheep don’t. And so they, they need a lot of looking after. And unfortunately that for the time being is just probably not going to change both from a research and disease standpoint and, and separation and, you know, real estate and land acquisition and all those types of things. And so there’s a lot of money that’s needed and those donors are much appreciated. But the Chadwick, you know, society gives another opportunity for people to 250 bucks a year donation or whatever they feel like on up. But, and

00:55:44:12 –> 00:56:13:19
I think along with those lines without what Adam’s talking about is including everybody, it’s not, it’s easy to listen to the podcast and say, I’m not the a hundred thousand dollars guy. That’s crazy. I’m not even the $5,000 guy a year. That’s crazy. But, and it’s not just a rich guy’s sport, even though we, you’ve developed these different programs and you, and you need to, and we’re glad, and I’m actually personally thankful that you’re doing that because sometimes as hunters, we get to reap the rewards of that. When you’re putting and keeping sheep on the mountain. It

00:56:13:19 –> 00:56:14:20
Feels inclusion, but it’s,

00:56:14:20 –> 00:57:07:29
But the but to, to attend the convention, you can walk the floor for 20 bucks and, and that is appreciated as well from you guys and any, anything, and every, anybody and everybody is welcome within the Wild Sheep Foundation. And depending on your stage in life, if you’re the, you know, newly married and going through college or whatever, your $20 donation and be able to walk the floor and participate with Wild Sheep is appreciated as well as, as you grow, grow in life, if you, if you choose to donate and pledge more funds as, as life changes for, for everybody and all of us, then, then that’s appreciated. And so I think it’s important, you know, to realize there’s people that donate time, maybe they don’t have as much money as they have time and they’re donating time and working with Guzzlers and their local chapters or, or, or, you know, wild Sheep Foundation is, is the whole and the mothership on it. And so I just want to reiterate that as long as, as long as Adam’s

00:57:07:29 –> 00:57:25:20
Talking about that Yeah. It’s very commendable how the, the inclusion that that’s, and, and anybody that goes to sheep show, usually doesn’t just go once and say, ah, that wasn’t as fun as I thought it was gonna be. It’s the opposite. I go, because, you know, so many people there for most time, you see ’em face to face maybe once a year. And, and it’s there whether be, and

00:57:25:20 –> 00:57:27:14
They’re talking deer and elk too. They’re not just mean

00:57:27:14 –> 00:58:21:10
Whether Yeah. Whether it’s a, an outfitter you’ve hunted with or just a just another sportsman or an outfitter from up north that only come down here to a few shows. And you guys have been very good about having, you know, you have a ladies event there, you know, you have, you know, it’s only for women. I mean, well, there’s a couple of men there, and then they’re, you know, but, but they’re usually like John Bear and others that are there to help raise money and auctions and things like that. But it’s, you know, the ladies have their, their room where they can just go have a great time, and then you have a life member breakfast and, and you know, that’s another, you know, a thousand dollars membership gets you that life man and sum summit life member, $2,500, you know, the annual membership, just 45 bucks. And, and then you touched on the less than one club, which, you know, those aspiring sheep hunters, you know, you a minimal contribution. I can’t remember, you know, gray, you can clear 40, 50 bucks or a hundred bucks, whatever it is. Yeah,

00:58:21:10 –> 00:58:26:00
Yeah. 20 20, 25 bucks to join the lesson one club. Yeah. And, and

00:58:26:00 –> 00:58:27:11
Might win a sheep. Well,

00:58:27:25 –> 00:59:21:25
Well, you know, you look, you look at, you know, you look at, you know, your, your local organization there, you know, Utah now, you know, Utah Wild Foundation. And then you, and you, you know, you look at the young, you, I, I couldn’t come this year and I apologize for that. But, you know, I just, the young guys and gals that I see at Utah Wild Sheet Foundation, you know, and are they, you know, are they sheet hunter? They might be you. That’s the sad thing about sheep hunting. You know, when you, when you typically have the wherewithal to do it, you don’t have the legs and lungs. But, you know, we looked at that and I look at that and we see that out in the, in the, we also see a lot of it in Canada because they have over the counter opportunities to hunt sheep. But we looked at what, you know, what can we do within, you know, the, the national convention? So we reinstated a backpack race, indoor backpack race, which

00:59:22:04 –> 00:59:22:28
I wa it’s awesome.

00:59:23:05 –> 00:59:26:01
It’s absolutely hilarious. It’s,

00:59:26:14 –> 00:59:27:16
And I just, and the,

00:59:27:17 –> 01:01:08:00
And the young guys and gals, you know, the, the men’s division, a women’s division. We then created the old parts division, but know the young guys and gal, and I was there couple years ago watching. I thought, don’t, don’t be stupid, and go, don’t back out your knee. Yeah, yeah. So don’t enter. And, and I’m watching and there was, you know, an old guard over at me kind, you know, motion me to walk over to, and he goes, look at age of these people. And I go, yeah. And he goes, you know what? There’s hope. There’s hope. Yeah. And, and, and that’s exciting. And I see that, I see that in Utah too. Yeah. You know, that’s the, you know, you go to WC a, it’s a family friendly environment. The Wild Chief Foundation is a family friendly environment. We have a, a youth wildlife conservation experience that we do for kids on Thursday and Friday, and then open it up to the public and kids on Saturday that, you know, that brings the family down to the show, gets them involved, gets them interested. And, and as you guys have said, you know, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, we call it the Wild Seed Foundation family. You know, the whole, the whole thing is, you know, sure there’s adult, you know, adult environments at the show, appropriate adult environments, inappropriate adult. But, but you know, there’s adult environments at the show. It’s a family friend, AER family friendly. Yeah. And, you know, that’s, that is what’s gonna ensure the future of our heritage is Yeah, you got it. Making sure that we’ve got young people that feel comfortable.

01:01:08:09 –> 01:01:57:07
Well, and you get ’em a taste of it. Now they have a good time. And, and all those things, you know, we, we kind of did a real crash of what you guys do, the sheep show, and it’s obviously on, on your [email protected]. But, but there is something for everybody. There really is. And, and it’s not one of these, you go there and you feel like, well, geez, I’m getting my, you know, everybody’s thumbing their nose at me. ’cause I’m in my blue jeans and I’m walking around here for the first time dreaming about, you know, these white rams and dark rams and hey, where do I ever get a hunt? One? It’s just not like that. And if you go there, you’ll know what it’s about. Yeah. And, and, you know, with sheep hunting, you know, and that’s, that’s why the only reason I even started taking hunters here in Utah or Nevada, is I’m not gonna probably hunt ’em as enough in my life to quench my thirst, I guess, for hunting sheep.

01:01:57:07 –> 01:02:31:08
And so my brother and I, we started taking ’em, and that’s the only reason to honestly, I mean, you get, you get some monetary benefit from it, but if I didn’t love it so much, I definitely wouldn’t do it. There’s a lot of other ways to just, you know, pay bills. So it’s, there’s something about it, and you get a taste of it. And, you know, maybe their kid, I’m looking forward to now, Jason and I, Jason’s killed his four rams. I’ve, I’ve got one lacking. But now we’ve got our kids that are kind of coming up the hunting age and, you know, it’s at some point maybe lightning strikes and boom, the fire gets lit and, you know, just going along on a sheep punt. But

01:02:31:08 –> 01:03:11:10
It’s like, it’s like Adam saying four isn’t enough, you know, and, and like you, you know, Greg, but, and you, and you, you can save your money and you can kill two or three or four or five doll sheep and, and continue to sheep hunt a bit, but it’s just, it’s hard to quench your thirst. We can deer an elk hunt every year. In fact, we can deer an elk hunt three and four times a year. And, and so anyway, it’s hard to, it’s hard to get enough. But I want to kind of move to, you know, we forgot the convention. We generated the revenue. Now what do you do with the revenue? How do you choose the projects? What pro where, what are you looking for in 2018? What maybe what did you do in 17? Just a couple of, you know, highlights. Those kind of highlight real look forward

01:03:11:10 –> 01:03:11:12

01:03:13:02 –> 01:04:08:04
You know, we, yeah, I’m, I’m, I guess I’m a, a guy that likes kind of a vernacular term because I talked to our, I talked to our convention as a bake sale for conservation. Well, I, I also used to use the term cafeteria conservation. And that’s kind of what, what a number of us organizations would do. You know, we would raise money, money, we would dedicate a certain percentage of the, of the funds to grant aid projects, and then we would wait for other organizations or, you know, state, provincial tribal agencies to, to request funds from us. So we started something a little different. And, you know, we thought, wait a minute, we’re, you know, we’re first and foremost a conservation organization. We’re obviously a first and foremost an organization focused on wild. She and admittedly, we’re an organization that for the most part does most of our work on North America.

01:04:08:05 –> 01:04:52:26
Wild. We get it. I mean, we, we do fund some international projects, but we’ve got some more in the mix now where I can talk about. But we started a process of going, okay, we want a strategic plan. Every organization wants one. They, we, you know, you usually, you know, bring some into a room. You have a facilitator, you get a bunch of bright ideas. You come out with this wonderful plan, it sits in a bi, you know, binder, it’s put on a shelf. We did a little different t we said, wait a minute, we’re a conservation division. We could have business plans for fundraising, business plans for our convention, but what is our plan for North American Wild sheep? So we created our North American Conservation Vision 2020. And we did it five, six years ago to say, where are we gonna be in 2020?

01:04:53:08 –> 01:06:01:12
So we had thin horn projects and Bighorn projects, the horn projects back in thousand 13. As we were discussing, you know, this, this process, we thought, you know, we do so much and we talk so much about big horn sheep, but half of the wild sheep in North America are horn stones. And 5% of the wild sheep in North America are in one state, Alaska. And what are we doing for them? What are we doing? Well, we really didn’t do much for them. We talked about them a little bit. We knew that, you know, from a historical standpoint, their distribution was about the same. But are there issues that we should be addressing? So we created, it was in, in 14, we held the inaugural, we held a thin horn summit in Richmond, DC and brought about 70 to 80 of the brightest thin horn nines from all across their range from Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, Alaska, and, and northern dc.

01:06:02:05 –> 01:07:02:11
They got them in a room and started addressing issues per jurisdiction. And we came up with a view a, a, you know, a set of priorities that we were gonna do for Inn Sheet. Now we didn’t have to have a summit, interestingly enough, we just had our Second Inn summit. We had it in, in Anchorage in April of 17, where we revisit, you know, those priorities and then got an update from each jurisdiction on where they’re, where they’re going. You know, for example, Alaska had not updated their management plan for Doll Sheet in over 40 years. Geez. So, you know, if you got a, you got oil prices low, you’ve got state budget, we don’t have any money. We go, well, that’s not really gonna be a problem, because while foundation’s gonna come in with a hundred thousand 50 of it, we got from a partnership with Spar Club International Foundation, and we directed a hundred thousand to Alaska Fish.

01:07:02:13 –> 01:08:02:11
But before doing that, worked it through the p r act folks within the feds and got a three to one match. So here, wow. You know, Alaska now has $400,000 to do a do sheet management plan. So they’re, you know, so they’re addressing doll sheep in Alaska. They’ve now made it a priority. We’re doing the same thing in northern DC and Yukon territory in Northwest Territory. We just funded a hundred thousand dollars project working with the Taan Central government, which is a first nation in northern BC on doing the first stone sheet monitoring project and a disease project that’s been done in northern where, you know, we just had not paid attention to F Horn. Yeah. We also established something called No Contact in the North. And as we, as we start discussing the issues with bighorns and disease, we basically drew the line and, and through some pretty visionary folks like Jackon Jr.

01:08:02:14 –> 01:09:33:29
Who, you know, pointed out, run rampant in Alaska and, and wipe out 40 to 50, be unimaginable, you know? Geez. I mean, we had, you know, in in North America turn of, you know, just the turn of last century. I mean, there’s estimated we had one to 2 million Rockies, Californias and deserts running around. Yeah. We got as low in the 1960s and seventies, 25,000. Wow. Yeah. I mean, we decimated, we did it, we did it with disease. Well, we brought ’em back to 85,000. But you start looking at, hey, it’s not unrealistic to lose an entire species through disease. So, well, and you, so that’s something we’ve been doing on the thin horn and on the Bighorn, it’s primarily, primarily trap and transplants, primarily disease work buyouts of, of grazing allotments on a willing, seller, willing buyer, a lot of advocacy, pushing policy on, on Big Horn sheep. Sadly, we’re almost to a point that there are very few, if, if any, safe places to repatriate big horn sheep due to the potential cons conflict with, with domestic sheep.

01:09:33:29 –> 01:10:04:01
Yeah. I know we’re about out of them in Utah, and that’s not that there’s not a lot of great habitat, but there’s either, either urban development, like Wasatch front causing issues with, you know, not, not big flocks, but small little backyard stuff that’s, you know, already reared its sly head there, or, or just other places in the state that are too close to not worth the investment based on the knowledge we now know about. Probably gonna go through an exercise in futility, putting big horns there and watching ’em flounder, so, yeah.

01:10:04:11 –> 01:11:03:11
Yeah. But look, look at, look how phenomenal Utah’s done. I mean, you look, you know, two just incredible success stories are, are Utah and Nevada. I mean, Nevada in the 1960s had a remnant population of big ones, and now they have 11,000 deserts in, in Rocky and California bigs. Yeah. You know, there’ve been sharing, sharing them with Utah. I can remember sitting at the Utah banquet about three years ago with Greg Shehan, who thank goodness is now our principal deputy director of Fish and Wildlife. Yeah. And I’m sitting at dinner with there at Utah. I want 10,000 big horns in. And you, I’m, we’re gonna, he’s coming to our convention and, and you know, we’ll recognize that, but you know, we’ll, okay, I know that’s not necessarily your portfolio now with wildlife, but you can certainly be a sounding board. Yes. And let’s figure out how we can get 10 in Utah. Yeah. There’s, take some hard workers, take some money.

01:11:04:01 –> 01:12:00:28
Exactly. And you can, you know, you can go to every, every state that’s had historical big horns and had the, the issues happen, like you said, said with, you know, just the, just normal colonization of Western North America settlement, you know, pioneer days, all that. And you, we didn’t know what, nobody knew what they were doing, you know, bringing domestic sheep and goats out to a naive species that just didn’t evolve with some of those pathogens. But, but thankfully, and, and you know, I know we, you mentioned a little bit, but you guys talked about your disease research at Washington State University. I, I’ve been there on the chapter affiliate summit, and, and obviously that’s years ago, but, but the research that’s going on there, and what we’ve learned there has really shaped, I can take, I can speak from a Utah standpoint of how the knowledge gained there and how that’s affected real on the ground sheep management in Utah.

01:12:02:13 –> 01:13:07:10
Just case in point, what we’ve learned there through the identifying the pathogens that have caused and linking the direct transmission, and then being able to test existing herds by neck gunning, drawn blood nasal swabs, turning the sheep go on site, getting disease profiles on our existing sheep herds in Utah, built and established as baseline, we now can make much better management decisions on where, where we can use for source populations and where you definitely do not want to use as a source population for a transplant. And where you, even if you got clean sheet from another part of Utah or another part of Nevada, you need to try to put clean with clean or, you know, dirty, dirty or wipe out the dirty or put the clean Exactly. Just, just on how it, it really affects transplants because, you know, transplants have been the saving grace, fortunately enough of them by, by just gut.

01:13:07:11 –> 01:14:08:00
And, and sheer luck for the most part in the seventies, eighties worked because it wasn’t based on the science we have today, but, but it was done by a lot of state and, and state agencies that just had a will to do it. And, and fortunately they did what they did, and otherwise, you know, the, the, the, the declines would’ve been even even more rapid. But now, like I said, the, the disease research, which I know national has funded greatly there at Washington State and other universities and other entities is, is being put to use on the ground in every state now to make real decisions on our, on all right. And, and like Utah, we’re almost done with every sheep herd in the state getting a true blood profile. You know, you, you take a sample size of an, of, of enough sheep in a unit and you get a statistically valid or, or, or just a, a profile, a positives or no po no negatives, and, and you’re, and you’re done. It’s, it’s just, it’s really remarkable. And that’s all happened within the last three to five years, you know, it’s recent. Well, and,

01:14:08:04 –> 01:15:17:20
And lemme tell you something that’s kind unique within, and, and, and you’re spot on. I mean, you know, we keep learning more and more and more, and just within the last two years, some novel approaches are taking place. Dr. Tomer, who is the Rocky Craig Wsf chair, and I mean, you’re right. Foundation has invested millions of million into this disease research. But, you know, he, he’s the guru on mycoplasma ammo or iMovie or mo and, you know, his research and his collaborators research have shown that if we can eliminate MO or Im ovi the landscape, it’s about a 95 to 97% solution. So that’s created some interesting thought. We’re doing a test project in southern DC called Eating Off the Landscape. You can breed iMovie, free domestic sheep. Yes. And when you wean them, wean them in eight weeks, keep them away from other sheep, and they become, they’re IMO free.

01:15:18:29 –> 01:16:05:20
And we’re doing a program where we’re buying, you know, we’re testing and it’s, it’s done with willing domestic sheep producers. You know, fortunately in, in, in southern BC I think it’s only about one to 2% of the domestic sheep production is, is in or near suitable or occupied big horn habitat. So it’s a small, it’s a small sample, which works at great for this, you know, this pilot project. But through our wild society of BC affiliate there we’re buying up positive domestic sheep and replacing them, you know, with purchase free or negative domestic sheep. Yeah. And then we butcher

01:16:06:01 –> 01:16:06:16
Slaughter the,

01:16:06:22 –> 01:16:15:02
And dirty give away, you know? Yeah. Slaughter the dirty. And as they’ve coined, you know, we’re eating an movie off the landscape,

01:16:15:02 –> 01:16:18:00
They eat just fine. They taste the same Yeah. To a person, they

01:16:18:00 –> 01:17:12:28
Taste the same. And it’s, it’s a, it’s a, you know, it’s, it’s a pathogen. You know, we have pathogens in our body that we’re fine with. Yeah. But you know, some, you know, hey, look at, you know, look at small and, and you know, native American population, I exact exactly exact same scenario it is, you know, and, and naive population coming to one that has some antibodies. Yeah. Well, in Alaska, we’re, we’re proposing a similar, similar scenario. You, here, here’s an amazing statistic. There’s about 1400 domestic sheep and goats in Alaska. Wow. I thought it was 2000. Their board of games said, no, it’s about 14. There’s 50 to 50,000 sheep. Again, 25% of, of the North American population of all wild sheep. Would it be worth it for Alaska Wild Chief Foundation and wild foundation to buy up

01:17:13:00 –> 01:17:14:08
1500 sheet

01:17:15:05 –> 01:17:32:12
Absolutely. 1500 domestic stock and replace them. And we’ve estimated it’s gonna cost anywhere from 200 to do so. It’s gonna take legislation to say you cannot bring in an mobi positive goat or sheep into Alaska, but is it worth it?

01:17:33:10 –> 01:18:04:26
Absolutely. Yeah, sure. I mean, stop it while it’s small. I mean, that’s a smaller problem than, you know, you can’t pre, you know, you can’t predict 10 or 15 years down the road. It’s something catches on up there for That’s right. You know, weed management and goats start getting flooded in up there, whatever, you can’t, you know, so 1500 sure is, is for all intents and purposes a non-existent number. I mean, it’s exactly, I don’t wanna minimize 250 to $500,000 to make it happen, but it really is an almost a non-existent, you know, but Yeah.

01:18:05:08 –> 01:19:04:28
But, you know. Yeah. And, and the she found there and goes, you know what, you know, for an investment of, you know, for we’ve spent millions on disease research. Yeah. We spend millions in buyouts and, and advocacy in it for $500,000 a week to solve a problem. And we to check them all, you know, there’s a classic case of, Hey guys, we’ve got a conservation evolving fund, and that’s, we think this might be the, let, let’s tap into it. Let’s write the check and let’s make it happen. Yeah. So, you know, but it goes back to what y’all are saying. You know, we, we keep learning and as we learn, we get smarter and we, you know, we get clever and these are, you know, these are things, it’s not trying to run the domestic local landscape. That’s not you we’re a multiple use organization. Yeah. But you know, you can’t, you can’t have them on, you know, you can’t have both on every single acre. There’s, you know, there’s certain, certain uses that are compatible and certain uses that are incompatible. And well, domestic chief and wild chief don’t mix. And

01:19:04:28 –> 01:19:12:01
It’s obvious from listening to you. It’s, it’s intense. It’s very, very, I mean, there’s so much

01:19:12:01 –> 01:19:23:26
That goes into it, detail. It’s political. It’s, it’s not, some of these problems are, you know, we can solve ’em in a room and then you gotta go to governors and state senators and, and US senators and, and it’s,

01:19:24:01 –> 01:19:33:29
They’re scientific. It goes back to your mission statement of scientific wildlife management. There’s very, they’re so involved. It, you know, you, it’s crazy. It’s tough. It’s, it’s obviously it’s 20 or

01:19:33:29 –> 01:19:34:02

01:19:34:18 –> 01:19:37:12
Hard, it’s 20 to manage sheep. That’s what I’m getting at 20

01:19:37:12 –> 01:19:43:23
Or 30 words in a mission statement. But boy, what that takes to pull off is a lot. So it’s

01:19:43:24 –> 01:19:52:11
Commendable. It’s, it’s wearing me out. Listening to you and how at how and how it extensive management of sheep. Well, it’s

01:19:52:14 –> 01:20:02:14
Unbelievable. You know, we’re, it brings up, and we’ve all heard it, that, you know, big horns are born looking for a place to die. And our job is to make them not that,

01:20:03:06 –> 01:20:03:28
Make them not die,

01:20:04:08 –> 01:20:09:17
Make them not be born looking for a place to live, live out their, their life on the mountain. But yeah,

01:20:09:17 –> 01:20:33:29
And it takes hunting to do that. It takes people that care about sheep, you know, even though Adam’s trying to guide as many hunters as he can to kill ’em, it’s not, it, the, that’s the, it’s the love for, for sheep that, you know, it takes to, you know, to be able to manage sheep effectively develop and funding and being willing to help with the funding and help with the projects and all of that. It’s the, it’s the love of hunting sheep. Well,

01:20:33:29 –> 01:21:42:17
And, and you know, kind of the, kind of, to cap this off and, and you know, we’re, we’re doing a, an initiative down in Mexico and, and Kaila, Chihuahua Sonora, and to a lesser extent already happening in, in Baja, but you know, they, they can due to a, you know, different, different from where we are, you know, we’re now for the most part talking about a private land scenario because, but because of a private land opportunity and the ownership of the animals, again, different from the North American Wildlife conservation model, which we all love and hold dear, but this is giving us the opportunity to work with landowners who can see a return on investment, even though they’ll never get a full r o i. Yeah. You know, we’re, because we’re talking ranches that are hundred thousand acres and then repatriating sheep, letting them go free reins, tearing down fences and, and hope wishing and praying that they don’t come in contact with the Cook Rico goats and growing desert big horn sheep down in, in CO and Chihuahua.

01:21:42:17 –> 01:22:21:18
Wow, that’s awesome. There’s, there’s populations, you know, that were zero now at 600 zero, now at 700. And this is what’s amazing because in one, one scenario that we’re working with in Chihuahua, because there is zero pathogens, there is absolutely no domestic goat, no domestic sheep. They’re getting 80% recruitment on their land. You know, they’re gonna show, they’ll have a doubling in the, in their desert bighorn sheep population in five years. And then a doubling again. I mean we’re, you know, we get, we get excited in Utah and Montana and, and elsewhere with, you know, 20,

01:22:22:05 –> 01:22:23:13
30 or 40%

01:22:23:13 –> 01:22:31:26
Recruitment. Yeah. You know, holy stuff. Fucking 80. This is, you know, when you remove the disease from the landscape that, and they have is what

01:22:32:14 –> 01:22:45:08
They have. No, they have no winters down there. Like Alaskan doll sheep would be the same in terms of being able to live till winter. But then they got a winner in Alaska to deal with, to survive where these Mexicans, they don’t have limit

01:22:45:08 –> 01:22:46:12
To deal with that pre you meant predation

01:22:46:12 –> 01:22:47:20
Disease. Predation disease,

01:22:48:06 –> 01:22:49:06
What you’re up against. Needless,

01:22:49:06 –> 01:22:54:12
Needless to say, there’s pretty serious cougar control going on.

01:22:54:15 –> 01:24:11:25
Yes. There you go. But well, you know, we could talk for five hours. I know we could and it would all be very, very, and we’ll have to probably have you back on and we definitely will. We, we, we wanna I wanna commend you, you, for all of these projects. And like you said, you, you went into pretty good detail there about some great specifics about where you, where you’ve been putting the, the money to in while Sheet Foundation and, and, and I just want to, you know, recognize you for that. It’s very commendable, obviously. I’m very passionate about it. And so, you know, it’s, it’s something I value where, you know, some other sportsman maybe, maybe don’t as much or don’t get it. But I would just, I guess, challenge everybody to, to look at the Wall Sheet Foundation as a conservation organization that gets results. That’s right. Join them, whether it be a $45 annual member or a life member, join ’em if you have time. I realize they’re on the West Coast in Reno at their annual convention coming up here. But if you ever have time to come to there, it, it won’t probably be your last sheep show. No, it won’t. It’s a, it’s a party, but it’s a family party and it’s, you, you really,

01:24:12:04 –> 01:25:03:22
You learn a lot, you make a lot of great relationships. It’s just an awesome event. Adam and I as well as Jeff John here in the, we be there, epic office. We will be there, we’ll, we’ll walk the show, we’ll be, we’ll be there for sure Friday and Saturday. And so we do wanna encourage everybody that’s listening. If you’re even close to Reno whatsoever, of course we drive eight hours or fly, but each way. But anyway, we, we want to encourage guys to walk the show and, and e even if you haven’t done it before or haven’t been involved with W s F for 20 bucks, you can walk the, watch the show, walk the show, excuse me, and see what it’s all about. And there’s a lot of intense hunters there from all walks of life with Western Big Game. And so anyway, it’s one of our favorite shows of the year. And, and Gray, we want to, you know, thank you for spending an hour and a half with us here on the phone. I know you’re packing up, getting ready to head to the show, and, and time is valuable and we just, we wanna thank you for spending some time with us here today.

01:25:04:14 –> 01:26:02:01
Well, Jason, Adam, I can’t thank you all enough and we appreciate our partnership with Epic Outdoors. You do a phenomenal job and, and we’re, we’re just very, very appreciative of the opportunity to spend this time with you and, and, you know, share, you know, our mutual passion for a resource and our mutual passion for enhancing that resource. And, and again, there’s something about Wild Sheep and yes, there’s something about the Wild Sheep Foundation. So we, we appreciate, we appreciate the opportunity to kind of tell our story. We appreciate the opportunity to extend an invitation to come to our show in Reno to join as a member and just get involved, get involved in any organization. If you got a passion for Elk, get involved in Elk Foundation. You got a passion for Mulder, get involved in Mul Deer Foundation. You everything that walks Slither and Crawls has an advocacy organization that needs your help. So we’re one of them. We’re, we’re always striving to do a better job and

01:26:03:00 –> 01:26:26:23
Appreciate the opportunity on the program. Awesome. Thanks Gray. Thanks for your time. Yeah. Adam and I are involved in all the organizations we can be involved in and, and support y’all and, and of course take part in hunting all the different Western big game species. But anyway, thanks again. Appreciate you. Keep up the fight, keep doing good things and we’ll Awesome. We’ll see you in Reno. We’ll see you on the 19th. Sounds great guys. Alright. Alright. Happy New Year. Hey, you too. Thank you.