Babbs in the Woods: RMEF says ‘coffin auction a unique undertaking’

So, I’m getting ready to head out the door and I see this email from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: Coffin Auction a Unique Undertaking for Conservation. If you know me, you know that I am a sucker for anything macabre, morbid, having to do with cemeteries, graveyards and/or mausoleums. I’m just like that … so, I had to look.

And here’s a supporting photo … of a trip I took a few years ago with my octogenarian friend, Ethelyn Ammerman, when we found the old graveyard where Valentine Branson lay at rest. Valentine was the founder of the popular tourist trap called Branson, Mo.

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Ethelyn Ammerman finds Valentine Branson's grave. Photo by Barbara Baird.

Here’s the release:

MISSOULA, Mont.–A custom casket featuring hardwood inlay artwork of an elk and mountain scene, hand-forged elk antler handles and camouflage bedding is among many special items to be auctioned in Las Vegas, Feb. 2-4, 2012, to support the conservation work of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The auction will be held as part of RMEF’s 27th annual Elk Camp convention and expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Riviera Hotel.

Elk Camp is RMEF’s largest annual fundraiser. Proceeds help support a variety of initiatives to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. Over the past year, RMEF passed the 6 million acre mark for habitat conserved and enhanced nationwide, supported elk restoration efforts in Maryland and Missouri, helped mitigate the effects of historic wildfires in Arizona, introduced thousands of youths to hunting and conservation, assisted with legal efforts to manage and control wolves, and much more.

The handmade casket, built from maple with walnut trim, is being donated for the RMEF auction by BNG Finish Products of Etna, Calif.

Company rep Nik Branson says coffin making began as an experimental offshoot of his custom cabinet business, “but now we do commissioned pieces for families around the country, and the biggest response has been from people who enjoy the outdoors, hunting and fishing.” Caskets with outdoor scenes and themes are the most requested, he said.

The coffins typically retail for $1,500 to $4,500.


By the way, if you can’t get the coffin, you might bid on the pack mule named Possum. Yep. Check out the or 800-CALL ELK. Check out BNG Custom Caskets.

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With a Realtree interior, of course! Photo courtesy of RMEF.


  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. Her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at


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One Comment
  • Sharon says: July 28, 2012 at 8:33 am


    I am an author and genealogist of the family Branson and I’m very curious of the location in the picture that you found Valentine’s grave. Besides his name were there any other writings on the tombstone? I know of 6 men named Valentine Branson of the same family and would like to record the exact resting place of the right one.

    In 1882 Rueben Branson opened up a store in Taney County and became the Postmaster resulting in the town being named after him. His father was named Valentine however this Valentine died 21 Dec 1876 in Gasconade County.