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Montana outfitters threaten Elk Foundation over board nominee

Randy Newberg, host of On Your Own Adventures on the Sportsman Channel. (Sportsman Channel)
Randy Newberg, host of On Your Own Adventures on the Sportsman Channel. (Sportsman Channel)

BIG-GAME -- Some Montana outfitters are threatening to withdraw support from the the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation if the conservation group doesn't withdraw its nomination of national hunting TV show host Randy Newberg to its board of directors.

The outfitters contend Newberg's Sportsman Channel show, On Your Own Adventures, favors do-it-yourself hunters and puts down the services of guides.

In an email from Montana Outfitters and Guides Association to all of the RMEF board members, management and other state outfitter associations, director Mac Minard stated on Wednesday that “Outfitters from several states have expressed concern …” because Newberg “…is affiliated with, and often represents one or more organizations that some perceive to be anti-outfitting/landowner often presenting the western Outfitting Industry in a negative light.”

Minard’s email goes on to say, “(Montana based outfitters) have indicated they may withdraw donations to RMEF if the appointment goes through.”

  • Newberg is outraged by the charges and posted this thread of comments on his Hunt Talk blog site.
  • Billings Gazette outdoor writer posted a story on the flap, noting that the story may be updated later today.

My two cents: I'm very surprised the MOGA would take this stand against a hunter and outdoorsman who is top notch in his line of work. If anything else, a little diversity on the RMEF board would make the organization stronger. Mostly, I see this as another regrettable fracture in the ranks of sportsmen.

Read on for more details from the Gazette story:

Newberg is the man behind a popular hunting show called “On Your Own Adventures,” in which he travels across Montana as well as to other states while describing how hunters can replicate similar low-cost hunts. The show airs on the Sportsman Channel.

Newberg is also a CPA and Bozeman resident. In the last two legislative sessions he has often testified on bills that would affect hunters and anglers.

“Seems MOGA is trying to split the hunting community and forcing RMEF to choose between guided hunters and non-guided hunters,” Newberg wrote in his blog.

Newberg wrote that MOGA’s email prompted outfitters to call and email RMEF threatening that if the group seated Newberg, donations would be pulled, banquet attendance would cease and RMEF memberships would be dropped.

“This effort, an effort most would classify as extortion, seems to be the way the fringe operates these days,” Newberg wrote. “Personal agendas of a few within an organization allows them to go so far as to use RMEF and the RMEF mission as a tool of leverage to try (to) take another whack at me and the viewers/readers I am asked to represent.”

So far, the RMEF has rebuffed the outfitters’ lobbying effort. But Newberg intimated in his blog that he may withdraw his name rather than risk damaging the foundation and its work.

“The goal, mission, and work of RMEF is far more important than my board position,” he wrote.

When contacted by the Gazette, Minard said MOGA has no position on Newberg’s appointment to the RMEF board, he was simply providing information to members as well as outfitters who called him from Idaho and Wyoming asking who they should contact to oppose Newberg’s appointment.

“This isn’t a coordinated MOGA attack,” Minard said. “This was simply me responding to people who had contacted me.”

Phone calls to Newberg and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for comments on the issue were not immediately returned.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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