Q&A with Michael Waddell
NWTF: Do you have a home NWTF chapter?
Michael Waddell: I feel like I’m involved in about 43 chapters, because I do so much with the NWTF all across the United States. I’ve become friends with so many people that I feel like I belong to a national NWTF chapter.
When I go to an NWTF event, I kid you not, all the members treat me like I’m a member of their chapter, which is really cool for me. I feel like I’m a team player for each of those chapters, because I’ll show up and say, “What do y’all want me to do? If you want me to get up there and tap dance, I’ll do it. If y’all want to put me on a couch somewhere and have me just talk to folks, I’ll do that, too. I’ll do whatever. Put me in coach I’m ready to play.”
NWTF: How did you get started with the NWTF?
MW: I’ve been an NWTF member since I was 16 or 17 years old. When my dad and I started turkey hunting, turkey hunting just went hand in hand with putting an NWTF sticker on our trucks for us.
I wasn’t 100% sure what the NWTF did then, but I knew that I loved wild turkeys and the NWTF helped turkeys so that was enough for me. As I matured though, I learned just what all the NWTF does --- from land management, to protecting hunters’ rights, to introducing more people to the hunting sport --- and supporting the NWTF turned into a passion for me because it’s an organization I really love.
NWTF: Besides hunting and the NWTF, do you have any hobbies you enjoy during your time off?
MW: Believe it or not, 90 percent of our family vacations are hunting trips, mainly turkey hunting. So when I get a few days off, we’ll typically go turkey hunting without the cameras. Or we’ll take a road trip and hook up with somebody I’ve been fortunate enough to meet doing this line of work, and we’ll hunt with them for a few days.
But I’ve got to tell you, my boys and I absolutely love motocross. We’re getting ready to go now and get the track ready so they can ride this afternoon. I just turned 40 this year and sometimes I try to ride like I’m 15, (laughs) but luckily I haven’t broken anything yet.
And my oldest boy Mason thinks he’s Axle Rose. He loves to play the guitar and sing, and I also love to play the guitar. So we’ve got a man cave room in our house and a karaoke machine, and we’ll go down there and sing and act the fool. It’s a good time!
NWTF: What do you think about the new television shows that have come out in the last couple of years, like “Duck Dynasty” for example? Do you watch any of those shows?
MW: I do. I watch shows like “Duck Dynasty” and think, “Man, this is just like watching my cousins or something!” And it’s funny, but it seems like it’s a much cooler time to be country or redneck or whatever you want to call us. I’ve known all those guys on the new hunting shows for quite a while. I met the turtle man two or three times at the NWTF Convention and Sport Show before he even had a television show. He was walking around with his entourage and making people laugh even back then.
It’s really cool to see these characters become mainstream celebrities, because they’re representative of us all. Being a hunter is cool and our lifestyle is intriguing and entertaining.
These shows are opening up a lot of doors and exposing more people to the hunting industry. People are getting to see the simplicity of our lifestyle, and they like it. So it makes me proud to see everything they’ve accomplished and I think the shows go a long way towards helping to show that hunting is necessary.
NWTF: Are you concerned about the future of hunting?
MW: I can’t say there’s never a time that I think about it. I’m most concerned about the mentality of mainstream folks when it comes to hunting. It’s like they think chicken and filet mignon grow on a tree beside an apple or pear or something. They’ve become so far removed from the way people like you and I grew up, and that really concerns me.
Hunting is a way of life for us. It’s something we do to enjoy being outside but also to put food on the table.
NWTF: What do you think about the NWTF’s Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt initiative?
MW: I believe the NWTF has the perfect message and a solution for the issues we’re facing now. We have great television and hunting shows on the market now, probably more than there’s ever been, and that helps to expose our sport to more people. Now we’ve got to work together to protect the habitat so we have places to hunt and the opportunity to go to other states to buy hunting licenses and tags to hunt wild turkeys. I’m excited to work with the NWTF on the Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative and think it’s going to be good for all of us.
NWTF: Michael, if you weren’t involved in this line of work, what do you think you’d be doing?
MW: I definitely think I’d be doing a blue-collar job of some sort. My dad was a contractor and I did go to school and get a heating and air degree, so I’d be doing something where I’d be outside working and grinding it out for sure.
Growing up, I was always competing in NWTF turkey calling events, which is actually what helped me get my start in the outdoor industry. So I’ve often said, thank God I’ve been able to turn my love for this sport into a way to make revenue for my family. Otherwise I might just be a hobo working enough to get out there and go turkey hunting --- that’s how much I love it.