Annual convention is the first sign of spring seasons

Friday, March 7, 2003

With hundreds of wild turkey custom call companies and manufactures on hand, the 27th annual National Wild Turkey Convention in Nashville, Tenn., last month was the place to find the prefect sound you've always wanted.

It was also a place to take in great seminars from championship callers and hunters, along with wildlife biologist and game enforcement officers. It was the place you can ask the question you have always wanted to ask.

The best of the best from every age group and every corner of the world compete for the grand prize of the best caller, owl hooter, call maker, youth art contest and taxidermist for this four-day event.

You don't have to be a turkey hunter to enjoy the exhibit hall. You could be a deer hunting and see Bass Pro Shop's "King of Bucks" display featuring more than 150 monstrous white-tail mounts in a first ever-public showing.

This was the first time I attended this event, and I was overwhelmed and only mildly prepared by the number of different activities to participate in or watch. Without stopping and talking very long and walking at a steady pace, it takes a visitor hours just to see everything at a glimpse. With hundreds manufactures and suppliers on hand answering question, showing new products, selling new products, it's a one-stop shop for any turkey hunter.

This event also gives the opportunity to meet members of the National Wild Turkey Federation from every state along with a few from different countries. During breakfast and the dinners you meet members and chapters from different parts of your state, allowing each member to see what other states and chapters do to help the heritage of hunting and the conservation of the wild turkey.

For me the invitational breakfast was by far the most interesting part. Individual members, chapter and sponsors of the National Wild Turkey Federation, law enforcement, biologists and communicators from around the nation got awards for unbelievable volunteer efforts and accomplishments.

The great auction for items you could not find anywhere else but at the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention would again be reason to attend, but there was entertainment too, including the Oak Ridge Boys, comedian T. Bubba Bechtol and singers Jeff Carson and Alison Krauss.

Based on events like this, I can say that the heritage of hunting and the conservation of the wild turkey along with many other animals will have a strong future.

If you want to get a head start for next year, the 28th annual event will be in Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 19 to 22 at the Columbus Convention Center. Call (800) 233-1234 for reservations. For information about the National Wild Turkey Federation, call (800) THE-NWTF, or check out www.nwtf.org.

Allen "Horntagger" Morris is an outdoors columnist for the Southeast Missourian.

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