Promoting the Palooza

I’ve had a blast promoting this Saturday’s Turkey Palooza, acting like the self-proclaimed spokesperson of the event.

I was totally geeked to be in a radio station. Don’t laugh at my cheat sheet for the interview. There’s a heckuva lot going on at the Turkey Palooza.

I started my week doing a live radio show with one of the event’s media sponsors — WKSX (92.7 FM out of Johnston, S.C.). It was just a 5-minute deal but I guess it served its purpose. I know of at least one person who heard the broadcast. But, you know, if I touched the life of at least one person…

The cool part of being in the radio station was I got to see all the DJ equipment and stuff, including programming software that’s like iTunes on steroids. I was in heaven.

All week I’ve posted on my blog and Facebook, prepping everyone for Palooza fun. It’s been cool working with my friend and NWTF web content editor Melanie Swearingen on giveaways and promotions. We’ve finagled dozens of prizes from Bloodline’s Alex Rutledge to our local Pizza Hut and everywhere in between, and we’re giving them away to Turkey Palooza patrons and online. Yep, even if you live 1,000 miles away you can still win. I explained all that in my last blog post, so scroll down and give it a look-see.

President Obama obviously didn’t realize there’s a Turkey Palooza going on this weekend. He just had to boot me off my live TV debut with some healthcare announcement. Whatevs!

And this morning I wore my NWTF logo shirt and even rolled my hair to appear on the Channel 6 newscast at noon. WJBF is another media sponsor of the Turkey Palooza. Well, the live show was pre-empted by President Obama talking about healthcare and all, so I got the boot. Apparently, he wasn’t aware of the big event this Saturday.

No worries, NWTF PR Director Brent Lawrence is taking my place on the show tomorrow, so tune in at noon if you can.

Melanie and I, in turn, got a tour of the TV station (my first time in one since a sixth-grade field trip) and snuck to P.F. Chang’s for lunch. All was not lost.

But I’ll be back on my Palooza promotion gig on Saturday, doing live remote broadcasts with WKSX and posting stuff to my Facebook page. If you haven’t friended me yet, go ahead and come over to the dark side. There could be prizes waiting for you.

I just found out I was volunteered to be in the dunking booth on Saturday as well. Ah, the glamorous life of a spokesperson…

One of the fun promo pieces Melanie put together for my live remotes with WKSX

 

Palooza prizes for everyone

Because I’m a woman of my word, I’m giving you the scoop on how to win prizes during the Edgefield Turkey Palooza — even if you can’t be there. We’ll miss you but hope you’ll join in the fun online.

My goal is for everyone to “feel” the power of the Palooza, so here are five ways to grab the most gear…

1. Meet a cardboard cutout of Alex Rutledge!
Breaking news: My friend, Alex Rutledge of Bloodline TV, will be our special guest at the Hunting Heritage Banquet in Edgefield, S.C., this November. To celebrate, the NWTF is running an Alex-themed Facebook photo contest with two ways to win.

Vote on your favorite photo of Alex Rutledge on the NWTF’s official Facebook page starting this Saturday for a chance to win something awesome. But you can’t vote for mine. I was just told I’m disqualified. Can’t win for nuthin’!

Folks attending the Turkey Palooza can stop by our little blue tent near the WKSX trailer and have their picture made with Flat Alex. We want people to channel their inner palooza and get crazy. We’ll post the photos on the NWTF’s Facebook page. The person behind the winning image receives a range-to-field-to-wall turkey hunting prize package that includes turkey targets, decoy, call, gun cleaning kit and fan mounting plaque.

2. Vote for your favorite photo!
While you’re sitting at home, wishing you were at the Turkey Palooza, keep Facebook at the ready and watch the fun unfold on the screen before you. I’m not trying to make you jealous; you could win a prize. Vote for your favorite Alex Rutledge/Palooza Patron photo beginning this Saturday. We’ll pick a random voter to win a prize package from Alex (the flesh and blood Alex, not the cardboard one). The “Bloodline TV” will pick the winning photo.

3. Be my friend!
Where else, well, outside preschool, can you ask someone to be your friend and not feel like a dork? Facebook, of course! Friend me on Facebook before 10 p.m. EST this Saturday, June 30. I promise I’ll accept your request (unless you’re my ex-husband). I’ll draw a winner from all my Facebook friends. The prize? A Grand Slam candle set handmade by yours truly, a super neat NWTF-logoed Blazer lighter, as well as the daily assurance that you’re not the biggest dork in the world.

4. Maybe do nothing at all!
There’s a chance if you’re reading this you already subscribe to Keepin’ Up With Karen. (That’s the blog you’re reading now.) Subscribers have my posts sent directly to their inbox, that’s it. I’m not a serial spammer or anything. I just want someone to listen to me. Everyone who subscribes to Keepin’ Up With Karen by 10 p.m. EST this Saturday has a chance to win. It’s easy. Just look to the right, enter your e-mail address, then (most importantly) verify your subscription through e-mail.

Subscribers will go into a drawing for two turkey calls, one signed by Michael Waddell, the other by Brenda Valentine. I appreciate them both for lending their signatures to the cause of me feeling loved.

5. Just come to the Turkey Palooza, for Pete’s sake!
From 4 to 7 p.m., I’m giving away all kinds of good stuff — NWTF gear, gift certificates to Edgefield area restaurants and stores, calls, decoys, knives — just because I’m nice. All you have to do is stop by that little blue tent I spoke of earlier and follow directions. Easy breezy.

I’ll announce all the winners here on Monday, July 2, so don’t forget to check to see if you won. Of course, if you’re a Keepin’ Up With Karen subscriber you won’t have to lift a finger. I’ll bring the info to you.

It’s a Turkey Palooza!

The NWTF is getting a little bit of an early start on July 4 fun with its first-ever Turkey Palooza this weekend. The NWTF campus will be buzzing with activity on Saturday — games, food, live music, auctions, culminating in a big honkin’ fireworks show. All the ingredients for an Independence Day-type festival, but we’re getting our turkey on instead!

So what’s a palooza anyway? I had to look it up myself.

Apparently, “palooza” is a term that came to be after I graduated high school in 1995. It’s nowhere to be found in the dictionary I received as a graduation gift — the days before you could Google everything.

I keep that dictionary in my desk drawer, because I still believe Mr. Webster over what I find online.

Palooza was not where it should’ve been in the “P-Q-R” section, after palooka (an inexperienced boxer), so I defaulted to Wikitonary.com. It says a palooza is an exaggerated event. That tells me absolutely nothing.

So I’m going to say a palooza is a big celebration, which is what I think is the intention of the events on Saturday. Add “turkey” before it, and it becomes a big NWTF party.

The Turkey Palooza began as a thank you to the Edgefield, S.C., community. The NWTF has called Edgefield home since 1973, employing folks from all over the Central Savannah River Area for nearly four decades. We love it here and want our neighbors to know it.

We also want them to get to know who we are and what we do for North America’s wildlife and hunting traditions. I’m not joking when I tell the story of a woman working in the McDonald’s drive-through no more than a mile or so up the road from NWTF headquarters. She actually asked me where we keep all the turkeys. Sigh…

Well, Saturday will be a chance for her to get the full NWTF scoop. Turkey Palooza participants can tour our Winchester Museum for free, typically a perk reserved for NWTF members.

Another bonus for NWTF members is an exclusive VIP area with its own games and made-in-the-shade seating area.

But anyone and everyone can enjoy the fun.

If you live within driving distance of Edgefield, you should totally join us. I’ll be there broadcasting live with WKSX (92.7 FM out of Johnston), giving away prizes, jawing about the day’s activities and trying to convince the show host to let me play some Def Leppard.

If you don’t live nearby, you can still get your palooza on too. Stay in touch here at Keepin’ Up With Karen and on my Facebook page for ways you can win prizes — even if you live in Idaho!

Oh, and click on the video above to get the skinny on what’s happening at the Turkey Palooza. (And make note of that sweet voice convincing you to stop by. It’s me!)

A beest of a journey

I’ve never been one to have the animals I’ve taken preserved by a taxidermist.

Perhaps it’s because my husband has enough stuffed critters in the house for the both of us. Or maybe it’s because I’ve never really killed an animal worth mounting (at least in my eyes).

The first (and only) shoulder mount I’ve ever commissioned was this blue wildebeest taken in South Africa. My impala and springbok are rockin’ it as European mounts, but I felt this big daddy deserved more. Check out a slideshow of his journey to America by clicking on one of the images below.

Sure, I have tail fans and beards of some of my turkeys on display. The rest of the feathers have gone to crafty friends who don’t hunt but like to make wreaths, ornaments and whatnot with animal parts.

The two deer I’ve harvested carried less than 6 points between the two of them. No wall hangers there.

That all changed when I went on my first African safari last year — two weeks hunting plains game on the Eastern Cape of South Africa with SHE Expeditions and six other gun-toting women.

A hunt of a lifetime like that warrants the utmost in memory preservation.

My favorite hunt was when I took down a behemoth blue wildebeest at 250 yards with a single shot. I never knew I had it in me!

It was an empowering experience to harvest an animal big enough to feed my family for several months. Of course, I couldn’t bring the meat home, but I left a deposit with African Pride Taxidermy that would ensure I’d have a reminder of “the beest” — and all the memories that surround him — for many years.

The wildebeest made to South Carolina about five months ago. I hate to admit that it sat on my dining room floor until yesterday. I just couldn’t decide where to hang it. (Maybe THAT is why I’ve never been into taxidermy.)

“The beest” now hangs in my office above my right shoulder (securely anchored in a wall stud, fingers crossed). No doubt, he’s a conversation starter, and I’m more than happy to share my treasured Africa experience with anyone who dares to ask.

And because I feel guilty for not putting the wildebeest in his rightful place before now, allow me to share with you his journey in pictures…

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Reflections of Daddy

You really can’t call me a daddy’s girl. Dad did a good job of treating my sister and I the same. But I sort of ended up the daughter who is more like a son.

I can remember the two of us riding around in his old “booger green” (that’s what I called it) Chevrolet pickup, with a pack of snack crackers and a Coke. We cruised the country roads of northern Alabama, occasionally stopping by the co-op to pick up seed for his vegetable garden.

He chaperoned my youth group’s caving trip, where we spent the night in a damp cavern after hours of belly crawling through mud. We laughed to each other at the scaredy-cat boys who were afraid of the dark.

Just realized Dad has all the photos of us together from “back in the day.” Here’s one from my files of us during my college years.

A few years back, I tagged along with him, his brothers and their sons on a fly-fishing daytrip in the Tennessee mountains. It was great to share a boat with just him and our guide, laughing at our rookie mistakes.

Now I’m the subject of many of the stories he tells his friends (whether they care to hear them or not). Dad doesn’t hunt but loves to keep tabs on where I’m going next and what I got while I was there, so he can report all the stats at his morning coffee group at Burger King.

Growing up, I favored more of my dad’s side of the family, closer in looks to his sister than anyone else. Now, I’ve taken on more of my mom’s features. However, I still have a dimple in my chin, just like Dad.

As far as my career, I’m less like my dad as well. I make my living by keeping my fingers attached to a keyboard. I’m not sure Dad even knows how to turn on a computer — or that he even cares to learn. He probably won’t even know this ode to him exists until I call or text Mom to pull it up for him. She’ll have to print it out so he can read it.

Dad never needed to know how to boot up a laptop. He worked in a chemical plant for 32 years, making a living for our family. His free time was spent in the yard and garden, at church, and simply being a great dad.

I always knew Dad loved my sister and me. But until I became a working parent myself, albeit one with only three years of parenthood under her belt, I never fully realized what a commitment he made to our family.

Like father, like daughter. Here we are on one of the many mountain vacations Dad planned for the family. This had to be five or six years ago. We still go every year, but now my sister and I have taken the reigns on the planning.

So, Dad, let me say thank you…

Not just for pulling 32 years worth of shift work (many of them on swing) … but for always being there for me. I can’t remember you ever NOT being at a piano recital, softball game or school program, when I’m sure a nap sounded much sweeter than 20 variations of “Clair de Lune.”

Not just for staying up ‘til the wee hours of the night assembling bikes and Barbie dream houses on behalf of Santa … but for keeping the magic (and innocence) of Christmas alive for as long as you could.

Not just for planning station wagon-packed trips around the country when there were only AAA Triptiks and an atlas to guide you … but for instilling in me a sense of curiosity that extends beyond my front door.

You’ve taught me how to be a friend and a parent, and how to live in the present. More importantly, I’ve learned there’s no person I’d rather emulate than you.

Wandering the Halls: Sam McDuffie, NWTF’s Winchester Museum Coordinator

Sam McDuffie is cool hipster meets Boy Scout. Musician meets museum coordinator. A creative mind who enjoys science. Basically, Sam is a walking, talking dichotomy.

Sam McDuffie wants to chunk tomatoes at Lady Gaga. He’s grown a beard since this photo was taken, so he might get away with it. Wait, I just blew his disguise…

I love folks like that. They keep you guessing.

By day, Sam molds young minds as they tour the Winchester Museum at NWTF headquarters. By night, he’s singer/songwriter/guitar god for the folk rock/blues group, Banned in Two States.

He recently meshed his two lives by writing and performing, “Get Your Call On,” a song/rap about wild turkeys. Talk about dichotomy…

The song is clever, but the music video will make you pee your pants. I’ve posted it on Keeping Up With Karen before, but it warrants another look, especially after you get to know the mastermind behind it.

Drum roll, please … SAM McDUFFIE! Then stick around for another showing of “Get Your Call On!”

OFFICIAL TITLE: museum coordinator/educator/Boy Scouts of America project manager

JOB DESCRIPTION: I educate the young minds about conservation, which includes the wild turkey, the greatest conservation comeback story. Occasionally, I get to add a new museum exhibit or two in the Winchester Museum.

NWTF EMPLOYEE SINCE: August 2009

WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU CAME TO WORK FOR THE NWTF? I was an interpretive ranger for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ state parks division. I was the infamous “Ranger Sam.”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB? Being a positive role model for the students I educate and teaching them that science is cool.

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE PART? The end of each fiscal year — too many reports that have to be turned in.

FINISH THIS SENTENCE: I USUALLY SPEND MY LUNCH BREAK…with my wife at one of the five restaurants in Edgefield, S.C.

IF YOU WERE A WILD ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? A barred owl, because it would be cool to fly and live at the top of the food chain. Also, I’ve always been a bit of a “night owl.”

IF YOU COULD HAVE FRONT ROW TICKETS TO ANY MUSICAL ARTIST/BAND EVER, WHO WOULD IT BE? Lady Gaga, so I can throw tomatoes at her for ruining music. Seriously, it would be The Black Keys. Their music resonates with me. They’re my favorite band (right now).

Happy month-a-versary to us!

It’s the eighth month-a-versary of Keeping Up With Karen! Just wanted to say thanks to all of you who have weathered a couple seasons with me already. Hope it’s been just as fun for you.

This photo was meant to be cute but turned out kind of creepy. But you haven’t seen the worst! Check my Facebook page on June 21 (my birthday) for the most sinister pic of the bunch. It’s too funny NOT to share.

A month-a-versary sounds very middle school, I know. To a young couple in like, a month is like a year and a significant milestone in the fragile relationships of 12 year olds.

It’s kind of the same with a blog.

There are days, weeks even, when blog posts just don’t come naturally. Then there’s my actual job, the whole Turkey Country editor thing, that’s takes priority. Sometimes I feel like I’m failing.

It doesn’t help that I’ve become obsessed with staring at the blog’s analytics — the number of page views, my most popular posts — to try and figure out how I’m doing. I can also see what web sites bring people to my blog, as well as where they go once they’ve said sayonara.

My absolute favorite, however, is reading the search terms folks use that land them on Keeping Up With Karen. It’s like a nerdy version of a reality show. You get to peek into the minds of people, see what’s hot, what people are looking for.

Don’t freak out, it’s not a “Big Brother” thing. (Sorry for the reality show reference.) I can’t see WHO is coming to my site. That would be a bit creepy even for me. So feel free to keep searching with abandon!

To celebrate our blog month-a-versary, I’m going to give you a rundown of some of my favorite search engine terms so far — some are funny, a few are a bit disturbing, but most were on point (at least I think).

The most frequent search terms are for the NWTF convention and SHOT Show. I have to admit I was a little disappointed “Karen Lee’s Awesome Blog” wasn’t No. 1, but I understand these events are much bigger than any individual. I covered both on my blog and can only hope I did a good job for ya.

Then there are the searches for NWTF raffle girls and SHOT Show booth babes (others’ terms, not mine). All I can say is what a disappointment that must’ve been to end up with me. Better luck next time, boys.

Web searches for three other individuals frequently brought people to the blog. I linked to the blog of Michael Waddell, NWTF spokesman and head Bone Collector, when he was on the Outdoor Legends Tour with the NWTF’s CEO. Same goes for couple other names that frequently pop up in my analytics, USMC Maj. Gen. Randy West and former Major League Baseball player Ryan Klesko. Both were on the Legends Tour in the Middle East as well. But that USO-type tour was only half the reason behind the searches. I had people looking for Klesko’s net worth, the Major General’s height and how many children Waddell has — info I do not have.

I get a smattering of visitors looking for people or gear I’ve hunted with and talked about on the blog. That should be a lesson to them all to treat me right … or someone is going to find out! (Just kidding.)

Then there are a few that have been just plain odd — Karen sneeze, NWTF sexy, how to load M&Ms into a cello bag. Makes me wonder about certain minds out there.

By far, the most flattering (and slightly surreal) is that people are actually searching for me. There are like a million Karen Lee’s in the world, but I know these were meant for yours truly: Karen Lee NWTF, Keeping Up With Karen, Karen Lee blog, Karen Lee editor NWTF, Karen Lee editor Turkey Country and variations and spellings thereof.

I’ve even had not one, but two searches for “Karen Lee editor Turkey Country husband.” Sorry to disappoint any bachelors, but he liked it and put a ring on it awhile back. We’re celebrating our 84th month-a-versary this summer.

Come to my “turkey work”

Tickled pink: Kara Grace Green, youngest daughter of Wheelin’ Sportsmen Coordinator Randy Green, caught her first fish at the NWTF Employee Appreciation Day.

Cooper, my 3-year-old, thinks I work at the best place ever.

He constantly asks, “Mommy, when can I come to your turkey work?” And every so often I’ll pick him up early from daycare and bring him back to the office.

In his sweet little mind, there are no deadlines or creative differences. The only inbox he’s ever had was during a Valentine’s Day party, a decorated shoebox filled with cartoon-themed cards with suckers attached.

To him, the NWTF headquarters is full of taxidermy turkeys he can (gently) touch. It’s where people call him “bud” and give him candy from their desk drawers. And a detour to the CEO’s office yielded a camo hat and turkey pin.

What is it with biologists and snake handling? Remind me to ask Scott Vance, assistant VP of conservation programs, once he puts that thing down.

The other week the NWTF held an employee appreciation event at the office, an evening of grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, games, archery, fishing, skeet shooting and (the toddler holy grail) an inflatable slide. Forget Disney World, the NWTF had to be the best place on Earth, according to Cooper.

A couple days later, I had to laugh when we drove by the office building and the little munchkin wondered out loud where the bouncy house was. If only every workday were that fun and carefree.

It’s easy to get jaded after a long week of meetings, projects and seemingly endless e-mails. We’ve all been there. Heck, even Disney loses a bit of its magic after standing in long lines and paying $20 for chicken fingers.

But when I sit back and look beyond an average day, the NWTF really is a good place to work.

May 31 served as the perfect example. That morning, a dozen or so wounded veterans from the VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., spent the day at the Wild Turkey Center. More than 60 NWTF employees emerged from their offices, cubicles, even the warehouse, lined the building entrance and gave those warriors a well-deserved standing ovation for their service.

Bryce Lawrence, the spawn of Public Relations Director Brent Lawrence, thwacked targets, while his dad manned the grill to feed roughly 240 NWTF employees and families.

My heart swelled with pride, not only for the men passing by, but for my co-workers who value freedom and understand sacrifice. I cried a bit.

Now, I don’t have a lot to compare the NWTF to. It was my first real job out of college. And I’ve stuck with it for nearly 13 years. But I’m pretty sure this is a fine place from which to draw a paycheck.

The one thing most everyone who leaves the NWTF says they miss the most is the people. I have to agree. You won’t find a group who cares more about others.

It’s like family, and I’m not saying that as a cheesy cliché. We don’t always agree, even get along at times, but at the end of the week we stick together to get our “turkey work” done.

Accounting’s Marlys Wooten snapped this pic of Cooper and me racing down the inflatable slide. Great shot of the fun we’re having, but heavens, please ignore my hobbit feet.

NWTF employees lined the entrance of the Wild Turkey Center to welcome a group of Wounded Warriors from the VA Medical Center of Augusta, Ga. What a moving way to begin a workday.

He is a champion, my friend

Your copy of the May-June issue of Turkey Country has had plenty of time to simmer on the coffee table, bed stand, back of the toilet or wherever you catch a few moments of downtime for yourself to read a few pages.

I’d like to invite you to pull it back out of the stack and look at the cover with me. No big time commitment. Simply look at the pretty picture, and allow me to give you the inside scoop.

Doesn’t Mark Prudhomme have the nicest smile? He looks like a favorite uncle. So kind and friendly. I also imagine him as the family friend who would take you fishing or show up unannounced at one of your Little League ballgames.

But this man is a mega contender in the calling competition realm. He was crowned champion in three divisions of the 2012 Grand National Calling Competitions — Owl Hooting, Team Challenge (with Kerry Terrell) and the Wild Turkey Rare Breed Champion of Champions. That’s the most titles any competitor has ever won in a single year. To top that, he now holds 13 GNCC titles — more than any competitor in GNCC history!

No one gets to be THAT successful by being a nice guy. Or do they?

Absolutely, if you’re Mark Prudhomme.

I called Mark to find out how he thought the Turkey Country cover bearing his friendly face turned out, and I was met by a wave of humility.

Here’s one image from the Mark Prudhomme photo shoot that didn’t make the cut. We were trying to have some fun, mixing two aspects of Mark’s life — winning calling competitions and working as a professional land manager. He was a good sport, allowing the photography team to haul a dozen or so of his trophies to the field and load them in a spreader.

He told me how he’d get Turkey Call magazine when he was a kid, remembering when it was just art on the cover, not photos. He was eager to dig into it. And when he started calling competitively, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on The Caller (when it was a stand alone newspaper) to see his name listed as a winner in a state or regional contest.

“It was a lifelong dream to be on the cover of the NWTF’s magazine,” he said. “So when [the magazine staff] called and said they wanted to put me on it, I couldn’t believe it.”

Mark said he enjoyed being a part of the creative process, watching NWTF Photo Director Matt Lindler and graphic artist Ryan Kirby set up the shots.

“It was amazing to watch their minds work,” Mark said. “When I saw the finished cover, I wasn’t surprised that they’d done a good job. They’re professionals. But I was really amazed at how well it turned out. They must have someone who’s really skilled at Photoshop to make me look that good.”

Mark made the cover of Turkey Country not only because of his wicked awesome calling skills, but that he lives his life as a hunter, land manager and family man with the same commitment it takes to be a winner on the competition stage. Plus, he’s just so darn nice about it.

Read more about Mark on page 128 of the May-June issue. Then click here to check out a behind-the-scenes video on the making of the cover.

Discover for yourself how sometimes nice guys finish first … a lot.