Racking up a good cause: Trophy game, fish mount show turns into a popular fundraiser for southeast N.D. community
An idea that started over a couple of cold ones in the fall of 2005 has grown into one of the largest homegrown shows of trophy big game and fish mounts in North Dakota.
The “Rack It Up V” Hunting and Fishing Trophy Show is scheduled for March 15-16 in the Quandt Brothers farm shop five miles south of Oakes, N.D. More than 400 mounts were on display at the last show in 2012, ranging from deer and elk to bighorn sheep, wolves, caribou and even swordfish.
Since the first show in 2006, the every-other-year “Rack It Up” event has raised more than $50,000 for community causes and residents in need of a helping hand, organizers say.
“It’s grown every year,” said Bill Schmitz, an Oakes insurance agent who founded the show with John Quandt, owner of the shop that hosts the show. “We’re hoping for 300 to 400 mounts again this year.”
According to Schmitz, the idea for the show started one night during the 2005 deer season when he and Quandt were talking about all of the big bucks being shot in the area. This was during the peak of deer populations and hunter opportunities in North Dakota.
“We started talking about all the deer shot, mounted and in basements that you never see again,” Schmitz said. “I said, ‘Why don’t we have everyone get together and bring the mounts to your shop?’”
By January, Quandt’s wife, Jan, had taken the trophy by the horns, so to speak, and started organizing the show. They decided to set up a freewill offering and donate the proceeds to the local school’s post-prom committee.
The first “Rack It Up” show in March 2006 featured more than 200 mounts, Schmitz said, and raised about $4,500 for the post-prom party.
Then as now, the show also included a wild game feed and raffles.
“People thought it was pretty cool to see that many deer heads in the Quandt farm shop,” Schmitz said.
After the success of the first show, Schmitz said he and the other organizers decided to hold the event every other year. The next show, in 2008, was even bigger and raised nearly $10,000, with half going to the post-prom committee and half going to a foundation that supports SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) research.
The show in 2010 raised about $24,000 for the family of an Oakes man who died in a grain bin accident, and proceeds from the 2012 show helped the parents of a boy with multiple sclerosis offset medical expenses.
This year, Schmitz said, organizers will be donating money from the show to the North Dakota National Guard Foundation and the school’s post-prom committee.
Schmitz said anyone with a trophy mount of any kind is welcome to display it at the show. Most of the mounts come from a 30- to 40-mile radius of Oakes, which is in the southeast part of the state about three hours from Grand Forks and two hours from Fargo.
Show hours are from 2 to 10 p.m. March 15 and 1 to 4 p.m. March 16, and there’ll be a wild game feed with items such as elk chili, meatballs and pheasant from 5 to 7 p.m. March 15.
Schmitz said the show has attracted fewer new mounts in recent years, which reflects the loss of habitat and the decline in deer populations, but the addition of fish and exotic big game species has offset the change.
“You still hear of half a dozen really nice bucks every fall,” Schmitz said. “We don’t bring the same ones back all the time. Some want to be seen, but it’s one of those shows if people haven’t been there, it’s pretty impressive. Most walk around it in an hour.
“It’s just a place where BSers congregate.”
If the weather cooperates, and anyone’s itching for a road trip, the Quandt Brothers’ farm shop is five miles south of Oakes near the intersection of state Highway 1 and 93rd Street Southeast (Dickey County Road 5).