The National Wild Turkey Federation, commonly referred to as the NWTF, is an organization that needs no introduction. Founded in 1973, they have been one of the single greatest factors in the constant battle to preserve our nation’s hunting rights, wildlife, and the natural habitat required for our wildlife to thrive. It is through the help of the many sponsors and members of the NWTF that the organization’s dreams are able to become reality. And each year, the NWTF hosts it’s annual Convention and Sports show where the tens of thousands of like-minded outdoorsman and women can come together for a weekend of fun and education, all the while helping to support on of the greatest conservation groups this country has ever seen.
So for those of you who already know about the annual NWTF Convention, it is certain that this article will have you wishing for hunting seasons to come and go so we can all get back to Nashville in February, but for those of you who don’t, let me tell you what the NWTF is all about. To sum up the convention in one word, FUN! There really is no better way to put it. In recent years, the NWTF has held it’s convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The Gaylord itself is an experience on person should miss out on. However, when you add the fun of the NWTF into the mix, the few short days in February every year that bring us all together simply don’t seem to be enough.
This years 38th annual NWTF Convention was one of the most successful yet. The convention boasted attendance at a staggering number of 48,530. Also drawing a record number of exhibitors at 420, it is easy to see that this annual convention is no small deal. Featuring a massive exhibition hall that showcases many of the newest products available to turkey hunters, celebrity autograph meet and greets, national turkey calling competitions, it is hard to pick a favorite activity when enjoying the show.
The exhibition hall itself is the top draw for visitors. Inside, a person can get lost in the constant sounds of game calls, especially the thunderous gobbles let loose by the many makers of modern gobble calls. The sounds leave many hunters longing for the time between hunting seasons to pass quickly. Perhaps that is by design, it certainly makes it hard to pass by your favorite decoy manufacturer or call maker without pulling out the pocket-book and spending a few dollars. I myself am usually guilty of lingering around the Dave Smith Decoys booth, always caving to the self-induced peer pressure of buying the newest decoys available. But calls and decoys aren’t the only goods to be purchased at the NWTF Convention. Chances are, if there is a new product you’ve been dying to put your hands on, it can be found while walking the many aisles at the show.
For those of us who also seek to take home a little knowledge to help improve our hunting capabilities, there are many great seminars hosted by the country’s top turkey experts. Everything from calling techniques to decoy placement recommendations, there is usually something to fit the needs of the most advanced to amateur hunters. There are always a lot of good stories and hard lessons to be shared. Also, Q&A sessions allow you to get answers to questions that may have gone unanswered to you for years. Granted, sometimes there is perfect answer to a certain situation, but the advice from someone such as Preston Pittman or Will Primos is hard to ignore.
One of the other activities I’ve greatly enjoyed at the convention is the national turkey calling competitions. It is something else to hear what can be done with a turkey call when the proper time is put in to practice. I’m sure I’m not the only one who walks out feeling a little down about my calling, but to be fair, many of the competitors could teach a real hen a thing or two about calling. Regardless, the calling competitions always give me the kick in the butt I need to break out my calls and start practicing for the upcoming season.
All in all, the NWTF Convention is a great source of fun. Not once have I departed from Nashville regretting my decision to attend. Every year, I find myself going home with more of an appreciation to the many great things the NWTF provides to it’s members, not to mention the wildlife it serves. Each trip has provided me the chance to meet new people and form new relationships. If you have not yet had the privilege of enjoying the NWTF Convention, I strongly suggest you look into attending in 2015. It is great experience, and a great opportunity to give back to a group that has given so much to the country and it’s wildlife.