The first summer after the formation of the U.S. Mountain Ranger Association in 1999, Ranger Joe Amerling hosted a cookout at his house for the first members of the USMRA. The menu consisted of Hamburgers and hotdogs, and all the members and families were invited. However, many wanted a cookout where just the Rangers could meet and be ourselves out in the woods.
The Critter Cookout was born from this idea. For many years we gathered at Penn Cove, and Rangers would bring meat and food harvested from the surrounding mountains. As the years passed, Penn Cove proved too small to accommodate the large numbers of attendies.
The Critter Cookout was held at Pine Valley south of Dahlonega in 2004. The USMRA dedicated a monument that year at Pine Valley to recognize training location as the first Mountain Ranger Camp. Many Rangers came from far and wide for this cookout and memorial.
In 2005, the USMRA was asked by the Camp Merrill Command Staff to conduct the Critter Cookout in conjunction with the 5th RTB Open House. This event has brought Rangers from all the corners of the Earth for a weekend to experience fellowship and brotherhood among Rangers. We dedicate the Fallen Ranger Memorial Road each year to six Rangers who have gone to the final Patrol Base, We honor six former, but living Ranger Instructors, by naming a planning Bay each Ranger's Honor. We award two competitively earned scholarships to children and grandchildren of Rangers. Mostly, we celebrate the lives of Rangers present and past and dedicate ourselves to never allowing the memories to fade.