RMEF is only as strong as the passion and inspiration of its members, and for life member Jeff Yue the foundation isn’t a banquet or sticker on a truck, but a way to keep looking forward and stay immersed in the cause during uncertain times and personal strife.
Long-time bird hunter and Minnesota resident Jeff Yue got his first taste of chasing elk while them above 10,000 feet in the Colorado backcountry. He came home empty handed, tired and driven.
With his new-found appreciation for elk, a life membership with RMEF seemed an obvious next step. The Elk Foundation’s focus gave Jeff something he couldn’t easily find in Minnesota. During the off-season, the people and gear of the banquets act as a surrogate for elk camp.
“We go as family and with our hunting partners, and for an evening, have a great time back at camp,” Jeff’s nephew and hunting partner Joe Yue says.
Back home his focus was on the hospital where he worked as an anesthesiologist, but his heart forever remained in elk camp with the camaraderie and landscapes he fell in love with.
The annual elk hunt soon became a family tradition and Jeff’s rifle eventually found its mark at 11,000 feet in a foot of Colorado snow, then again in the mountains of Arizona, But regardless of his fortune, his giving nature always shines through.
On the same trip in Arizona, came upon a hunting duo, one of whom had just broken their leg. Because of his medical training, Jeff sent the able- bodied partner to get help while he looked after the injured hunter. Lending the man extra clothing he stayed with him through the cold Arizona night.
The annual hunting trip remained on the calendar until a decline in health took Jeff to the doctor where he was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. The news was a shock, especially to a non-smoker dedicated to being in excellent physical conditioning to match the mountains. Most people’s life plans would drastically change after such a diagnosis, but Jeff’s resolve remained strong. He vowed to not abandon elk camp.
His health eventually limited his ability to stalk the high mountains, however. But when the Minnesota banquet dates are announced, he’s the first to know and announces to his family they have plans for that day.
On banquet day it’s a safe bet that Jeff will be the first one in the building, admiring the gear, immersing himself in the feel of hunt camp again and giving back to an organization that has given him a lifetime of memories.
“He’s always been a giver,” Joe says. “He truly believes in the cause and he’ll do what he can to keep it going for everyone.”