Western Hunting and Conservation Expo 2017

 The Salt Palace was full of conservationists from all over the country last week. I was witness to the event, which was impressive in size and quality.
Spent time with many friends including  Colter, Rocky and Lorell Heckman of Montana Safaris who joined MDF Director Emeritus, Alden Glidden and I for dinner at both of the banquets.
Also notable was a visit with six-time Olympic medal winner, Kim Rhode (who also visited  MDF members  in 1997 at the Sacramento Expo and MDF Convention). As we waited for the shuttle to the airport on Sunday morning, she told us the story of her first dove hunt which took place in Arizona when she was seven years old.
When a warden approached her and asked if she had shot the doves  that were laying at her feet, she replied. “yes.”
Unbelieving, he asked her a second time and she responded by swinging on a flock of doves overhead and dropping a double.
He turned and walked away. Even a warden would be impressed by that.
Also spent some time with familiar faces from outdoor TV, Dan Harrison (Remmington Country and formerly Tred Barta’s frequent guide, currently an MDF Director) and Freddy Harteis (the Hollywood Hunter) whose Colorado archery mule deer hunt donation sold at the auction for $19,000. They were friendly, very approachable and a kick in the pants to hang out with.
Here’s a copy of the post-event news release from The Mule Deer Foundation and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife.
WHCE Logo 2017_news

For Immediate Release: February 22, 2017

Contact:  Miles Moretti, (801) 230-2207, miles@muledeer.org
Troy Justensen, (801) 557-3352, troy@sfw.net


Salt Lake City, Utah: After four days of a busy show floor and successful evening auctions, the 2017 Western Hunting & Conservation Expo (WHCE) closed its doors on Sunday afternoon. The show, hosted by the Mule Deer Foundation and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and sponsored by Ammo & More and ACI, has become the biggest consumer sport show designed for the western big game hunter. Now in its 11th year, the WHCE has continued to exceed expectations with 46,000 attendees walking the exhibit halls and raising over $6 million for wildlife conservation efforts.“The Western Hunting & Conservation Expo continues to grow every year, and this year was no exception,” said Mule Deer Foundation President/CEO, Miles Moretti. “We had 46,000 attendees come through the show which is great for our exhibitors who were busy the whole show. Exhibitors frequently told us this was their best show of the year. With many of them already signed up for booth space in the 2018 show, we can unequivocally say that Hunt Expo is a resounding success.”

The evening events drew large crowds who took part in the banquets and auctions as well as listened to keynote speakers John Wayne Walding and Kim Rhode; Saturday night’s banquet was sold out with more than 1,700 people in attendance. The auctions featured over 140 items up for bid including governor’s tags, limited edition firearms and artwork, and much more. Top auction items this year included the Antelope Island mule deer tag that sold for $250,000 and the Arizona statewide mule deer tag that sold for $280,000. Combined with other incredible once-in-a-lifetime hunts, the auctions raised more than $4 million and 93 percent of those funds will be dedicated to habitat and conservation programs on the ground. In addition, attendees had the opportunity to enter drawings for 200 special big game tags offered by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for just $5 a tag. Those funds quickly add up, and are dedicated toward conservation and mission accomplishment for Utah Division of Wildlife Resources as well as MDF and SFW.

The traffic through the show floor was steady and broke records each day throughout the four-day show. The 2017 WHCE boasted an exhibit hall of over 400,000 square feet, an increase of 70,000 square feet from the previous year. The show featured top-quality outdoor manufacturers and retailers, incredible taxidermy, and first-rate guides and outfitters. Throughout the course of the weekend, attendees browsed some of the latest gear available on the market and could book their dream hunting experience. The WHCE is a family-friendly event and that was obvious with the many children of all ages walking the show floor proudly sporting their M.U.L.E.Y. antlers. Every child had the opportunity to participate in the Youth Wildlife Conservation Experience (YWCE), trying their hand at shooting, archery, fly tying, wildlife identification, and much more. Throughout the course of the weekend over 5,000 youth went through the YWCE and had a chance to enter their names into a drawing for either a hunting gear package or a guided Utah deer hunt donated by Majestic Valley Outfitters.

“Once again, the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo is proving that there are many hard-core western sportsmen and women who appreciate coming to a show to book hunts and buy gear,” commented Troy Justensen, president of Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife. “We are proud of how this show has grown over the last decade and hunters can rest assured that we will continue to build and improve the event.”

The 2018 Western Hunting & Conservation Expo will run from February 8-11, 2018 and it is expected to be even larger than this year’s event. Mark your calendar for next year’s event and stay up to date on planning through the WHCE website at www.huntexpo.com.

About MDF 
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, improving and protecting mule deer, black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. MDF acknowledges regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to recruitment and retention of youth into the shooting sports and conservation. Get involved at www.muledeer.org or call 1-888-375-3337.About SFW
Headquartered in North Salt Lake, Utah, Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife is a charitable, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The mission of SFW is to promote the protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat, assist in providing quality wildlife management programs, educating the public about the role hunters play in wildlife conservation, and perpetuating the family tradition of hunting and fishing. Visit www.sfw.net or call 801-936-1386.

The “Perfect” RV (Part 3)

The inside dimensions of the trailer are 16 feet by 7 feet. The roof has been raised by one foot over the standard 7 foot high ceiling making it 8 feet tall inside. This will accommodate the Rhino (side by side). I suspect it will accommodate all ATV models, but didn’t confirm that.

There will be four – 12 VDC LED dome lights centerline on the ceiling. They will be powered by one 12 VDC battery which will be stored inside the trailer. The battery will primarily be charged by a solar panel on the roof. Did not opt for 120 volt AC.

Decided to add two five gallon propane gas cylinders and regulator on the tongue. The spare tire will be mounted above them.

Added four E-track rails, two on each side of the trailer. E-track is a tie-down system for trucks and cargo trailers. It will create a great deal of flexibility for how the trailer can be used. You can find information about it readily on the net.

Besides tie-downs for the ATV and boat, the E-track rail will provide support for furniture, primarily beds which can be put up and taken down (easily I think). Or, they could fold up and be stored against the sides of the trailer – or both. I’ll decide on that later. Also had six rings installed in the floor for additional tie-downs.

The floor will be covered by heavy-duty rubber matting. I want it to be easy to wash out if necessary so I also had a one foot high kick plate will be installed around the perimeter of the floor. The matting extends down the ramp as well.

I decided that insulation was important, so everything but the floor has R7 insulation.

The standard metal door will be replaced by a 36 inch RV door which will have a window and screen. Three additional windows will be added appropriately. They are 30 inches x 22 inches and will pop out per safety standards. I added a few extra running lights and a light by the door.

The trailer will have a “straight axle” upgrade that will create four inches of additional clearance and two boogie wheels should help reduce damage to the rear end of the trailer if (and I will) I drive over sharp inclines like when I take it one the ferry to Webb Track and the tide isn’t perfect.

Went with scissor jacks on all four corners to make it more convenient to keep it level. A cable hatch will allow me to breach the wall with wires or hoses as necessary without making additional holes in the wall.

In order to load my Boston Whaler, I’ll need to build a boat dolly and remove it from the current boat trailer. I’ve been looking at options and going through some mental gymnastics. I’m pretty sure it will work out. I may have to take the 20 HP Mercury motor off each time I load it, which will be a pain. I’m hoping it will squeeze in.

I also have a twelve-foot aluminum boat that would be easy to load, but the whaler is a much better option.

The cargo trailer will also be an option for storage in cases where there is a short-term need such as remodeling and needing a place for furniture storage.

There should be enough room for three people to sleep inside, but they’ll be getting to know each other quite well. I had a Fantastic Fan installed so at least there will be good ventilation.

I would have posted the plan, but it is property of the builder, Forest River, Inc. Wouldn’t want to made anybody mad at me.

Decided to be conservative and go with gray exterior paint.

That’s about it for now. I’m waiting to hear how long it will take to build it. Will post some photos at that time.

RV Search (Part 2)

Frustrated in my effort to come up with a plan to consolidate the RV situation, I stepped up my search for improving the situation.

My priorities: 1.) Have a place to sleep while on hunting and fishing trips. 2.) Have a second place where a guest can sleep if I’m taking somebody else hunting. This is mostly a problem with duck hunting, which is mostly done with at least one other hunter. The issue is compounded by the fact that the two main duck clubs on which I hunt often require an overnight stay. 3.)Be able to haul  a variety of boats, atvs and other auxiliary equipment or gear. 4.)An RV that can be reasonably managed (stored) when not in use. 5.) An RV that can remain in an outdoors location for months at a time without being overrun by rodents and other critters. 6.) No net gain in vehicles or trailers to store in my side yard at home and better yet, a reduction of those types of items. (This is #1 on my wife’s list.)

Last year I rented a travel trailer to deal with #2 above. Then I towed it to the duck club behind my truck and camper. My guests were quite comfortable. But it was only a temporary fix and it cost over $1,000 to have the trailer available for about a month. Not a solution, just a quick fix.


Rented this travel trailer last December/January. it functioned well as a place to sleep and get out of the weather, but it didn’t solve other issues about hauling and storing equipment.

A trip to a weekend RV show fired me up, the cost of solutions presented there was overwhelming. I checked out a four-wheel drive Mercedes van which would be a great tool, but the cost of the van without any improvements was over $60,000. Estimates for finished vans were $100,000 and up. Non-starter for me.

Then I spotted the Airstream “Base Camp” travel trailer. What I great toy. I sat in it and imagined my camp. Definite infatuation. But the Base Camp trailer cost over $40,000 and it created many new issues.

Next came a few days searching the internet. I was impressed by the numbers of RV’s I found. They didn’t solve my problem.

For years I’ve known about a friend of mine who used a cargo trailer for a place to sleep while camping alone in remote places. Unfortunately he had a very bad experience when a propane explosion destroyed his camper and seriously burned him.

However, the idea of converting a cargo trailer to a combo utility trailer, cargo trailer and RV sounded interesting. Finally I drove to Tracy and looked at cargo trailers. It was clear at once that I was on the right track.


The cargo trailer can haul any ATV  or any boat I own. It stores equipment out of the weather. It is sixteen feet long and has a 5,000 lb double axle. The total out-the-door cost of the customized trailer  will be under $15,000.

The picture above is not the trailer that I purchased, but it is close enough for display purposes. In order to make the cargo trailer versatile it had to be customized. That will be the subject of my last (I hope) RV post.

Search for the Perfect RV (Part 1)

Boats, boat trailers, ATVs, utility trailers, trucks, campers and travel trailers (what have I left out) are necessary for a life as a ranch owner and outdoorsman, but you can only afford to own, or store, a limited number of toys. Here are some of them and what they cost me.


This 13 ft Boston Whaler ($300 used) is old and ugly, but it is a very useful and stable boat that doubles as a fishing and duck hunting platform. The 20 hp motor ($2,000+ new) moves it along, but not like a bass boat.


This eight foot boat, called the “Final Attack Duck Boat” ($600 new) has been idle for a couple of years, but it rests upon a very useful trailer originally desired for Personal Watercraft, like wave runners ($250 used). It works well with the duck boat and may figure into my future RV plan.


About fifteen years ago, my brother and I had this utility trailer built to haul our gear on out-of-state hunts. It holds two one person ATVs or one side by side, in this case a Yamaha, Rhino. It travels well and is not bothered by rough roads. We have about $2,500 invested in this trailer. It also hauls a nice load of gravel on occasion. The side by side is a nice way to travel when you have company, but it is a noisy vehicle.

A few years ago, I purchased a camper for my F-150. F-150 (42,000+ new).


This Raven camper fits on the short bed of my 2013 F-150. It holds enough gear and has a comfortable bed over the cab. Cost $10,000 new about three years ago.

The camper model is the Raven and it is made by Four Wheel Campers and they are located in Woodland, CA.

My camper is just a shell, which means it has only storage, a fan, a battery and a bed. The bed is located over the cab. It works well for me and I don’t need a stove, heater or potty because I spend most of my time outside the camper anyway.

This camper is fine for one person, but not all of my friends have trucks and campers and I don’t own a travel trailer for guests. Not to mention that I potentially hunt on three duck clubs so I’d have to haul the travel trailer to each duck club during the season.

The advantage of a camper is that you can haul a trailer, but I need a trailer for ATVs, boats and sleeping. I suppose that’s why somebody came up with the toy hauler concept, but I don’t want to tow a 25 foot long travel trailer. And just like with the camper, I don’t need a stove, heater, potty and built-in table. Just not my style.

This line of thinking has led me to search for a solution that will impact and simplify all of my needs. Although this is a never-ending search, I made a specific decision related to the next stage in progress. I’ll explain in part two of this post.

Notice from The North American Bird Banding Program

Received this notice today. Thought it worthy of re-publishing it here.

“Bird banding is important for studying the movement, survival and behavior of birds. About 60 million birds representing hundreds of species have been banded in North America since 1904. About 4 million bands have been recovered and reported.

Data from banded birds are used in monitoring populations, setting hunting regulations, restoring endangered species, studying effects of environmental contaminants, and addressing such issues as Avian Influenza, bird hazards at airports, and crop depredations. Results from banding studies support national and international bird conservation programs such as Partners in Flight, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and Wetlands for the Americas.

The North American Bird Banding Program is under the general direction of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Cooperators include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mexico’s National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity and Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources; other federal, state and provincial conservation agencies; universities; amateur ornithologists; bird observatories; nature centers; nongovernmental organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the National Audubon Society; environmental consulting firms and other private sector businesses. However, the most important partner in this cooperative venture is you, the person who voluntarily reported a recovered band. Thank you for your help.

U.S. Geological Survey
Canadian Wildlife Service

Please Report Bands at
call 1-800-327-BAND”

Follow-up on Golden Eagle Band

The area near our ranch has a large concentration of eagles, both golden and bald. These eagles have been closely monitored for many years.

The individual who captured golden eagle 629-41062 was Daniel Driscoll. When contacted by my friend Joe DiDonato (Joe has a long history of working with golden eagles), Driscoll had the following comment.

“We captured 629-41062 as a breeding female at the Lower Indian Creek breeding area on 5-30-1996. Since she was at least 4 years old (adult) when captured, the eagle would be at least 25 years old this year.”

The Lower Indian Creek breeding area is located on the south side of San Antonio Reservoir in Alameda County. It is approximately a mile from the location where the carcass of a banded golden eagle was found yesterday. (See previous post)

Golden Eagle Band #629-41062

Over the years I’ve collected the bands of waterfowl, mostly mallards, but also a greater Canada goose, greater snow goose, one sprig and a greater white-front goose.

Once upon a time I actually participated in banding raptors at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory as a beginner at the Marin headlands. And, the band of a sharp-shinned hawk (one of the few I personally banded), was recovered and reported. It was surprising to read the report in the Raptor Observatory newsletter.

Today, Rob and I recovered a band from a non-waterfowl bird. It was the band of a golden eagle, probably one the eagles we have often observed and maybe even photographed.

The carcass of the bird was found along side the road to our ranch. It was deteriorated and rotten, but there was a band on its leg – a band that led to a great deal of interesting information about the bird.

The band report said that the bird was banded in 1996 near the Arroyo Sanitorium (about four miles south of Livermore California) and that it was hatched in 1993 or earlier. It was female. Now, over 20 years later, and at the age of 24 years or greater, the bird is dead, a testimony to the ability of eagles to survive in our modern world full of obstacles and danger.

After 20+ years, the dead bird was found only about five miles from where it was banded. Based upon a quick internet search, it appears that this bird lived to be quite old for a wild North American golden eagle.


The 20-year-old band was scratched and scared. The diameter of the band is approximately equal to the diameter of a quarter.