Elk NetworkA Windfall for Elk

Volunteer News | August 13, 2012

A Windfall for Elk 

By Deborah Brae Tanner, Bugle Intern

Glen Schwenke hasn’t missed a hunting season since he was 7 years old. Elk and elk hunting have been his passion for as long as he can remember. Building windmills, however, is a fairly new obsession.

Schwenke, longtime RMEF member, Bugle contributor and diesel mechanic in Washington, got the bug for building windmills after reading a co-worker’s book about windmills, their history and design. “I like to be creative,” he says.

His latest effort sports aluminum blades cut from a used hydraulic tank and includes a tail designed with the RMEF logo. He spent 40 hours building it, and donated it for raffle at the North Puget Sound Big Game Banquet this year.  The one-of-a-kind windmill sold for $550. “It was a labor of love,” Schwenke says.

Unique items made by individuals like Schwenke are a big hit at RMEF banquet auctions, says Anna Soper, North Puget Sound chapter co-chair. “When somebody handcrafts something you almost always are going to get a high-quality item. It means more because they put the time and effort into it, ” she says.  

Schwenke has two working windmills in his backyard. He built a wooden one 20 years ago for his kids, long before his obsession started. Recently he built another for his wife Jackie, which he painted pink. Now Schwenke searches for, retrieves and restores old windmills.

“We’ve actually gone on trips just to look at windmills he can restore,” says Jackie. Once Schwenke found someone willing to sell him an old, dismantled windmill. He had to drag it out of the weeds, blade by blade.

Whether it’s packing out an elk or a dilapidated windmill, Schwenke loves to spend his time outdoors, something he got from his father, a former packer and guide. “Hunting keeps me young,” Schwenke says. Building windmills keeps him busy between hunting seasons.