The warmest place on Earth in January? South Dakota!

The weather outside was frightful, but inside the Watertown (S.D.) Convention Center was so delightful — thanks to the warm hospitality of NWTF South Dakota volunteers.

I spent last weekend with a few dozen of them at their annual state convention, where they handed out awards for awesomeness in volunteerism and events. I served as the keynote speaker, did a seminar on communicating with nonhunters, and spread general goodwill on behalf of the NWTF headquarters staff. It was an easy task with this great group of folks.

Here I am with my South Dakota NWTF “host” family, the Schauers. Dad Ron was inducted into the state’s NWTF hall of fame for his volunteerism. All three of them got my stamp of greatness for taking care of me during my stay.

Here I am with my South Dakota NWTF “host” family, the Schauers. Dad Ron was inducted into the state’s NWTF hall of fame for his volunteerism. All three of them got my stamp of greatness for taking care of me during my stay.

It began when the Schauer Family picked me up from the Sioux Falls airport, saving this Southern gal a potential stroke of having to drive in below freezing temps, dodging ice patches or waiting for pending doom as the snow crept in.

They said, “South Dakota volunteers are like family.” I found that to be true as they instantly took me in and made me one of their own for a few days. I felt like an exchange student from the other “South” state.

But the family vibe was even more evident watching the volunteers interact with each other. They spent just as much time encouraging each other and pitching in to help, as they did ribbing and poking fun in a good-natured way. Looks like a family reunion to me, no?

I found it wonderful how so many “flesh and blood” families came to the convention as well, proving the NWTF offers something for everyone. Among the training seminars on turkey hunting and NWTF events, the Bramble Park Zoo brought in critters for kids of all ages (like me) to pet and get a closer look — a hedge hog, bearded dragon and, ew, snakes, to name a few.

Conference planners also offered a visit to renowned artist and son of Watertown Terry Redlin’s museum. I slipped in and took a fast-forward tour of the three levels of original art and prints, thanks to my NWTF sister Becky Schauer hauling my tail over there between speaking engagements.

I’m thinking this Dakota didn’t get its “prefix” based on geography; it’s because it gives the South (as in Dixie) a run for its money on hospitality.

Thanks, South Dakota NWTF, for a great weekend. And I’ll be thinking of you until spring comes and thaws out your awesome state — and brings turkey season your way.

 

Get over yourself

I photographed the inaugural Wounded Veteran Dove Hunt in Monetta, S.C., last weekend. It was just a quick jaunt up the road from my house, and we needed more photos to help promote the NWTF Wheelin’ Sportsmen program.

The daylong sporting clays and dove shoot was sure to present a ton of shots (pun intended) of people with disabilities enjoying the outdoors.

Continue reading

Talkin’ turkey on the Bob & Tom Show

I’m a believer in a Divine Plan, that things happen for a reason.

That usually pertains to major life events, but sometimes it’s evident in everyday stuff.

Take last Thursday, for instance. I walked into my office, and barely before I dropped my keys on the desk (and surely before I’d had a drop of caffeine), I found myself on a live radio show. OK, not just any live radio show — the Bob & Tom Show.

If you don’t know who I’m talking about, click on the Bob & Tom picture below and listen. You’ll catch up quickly, hear my national radio debut and get a good laugh to boot.

Back to that Divine Plan…

Rewind to little over a month ago when we decided to put Jeff Foxworthy on the cover of Turkey Country. We had access to this awesome image and interview, of course we’re gonna use them!

Magazine goes to press, hits mailboxes, yadda, yadda. And — BAM! — an e-mail arrives in the Turkey Country inbox. It’s a request from Dean, a producer for the Bob & Tom Show, asking the editor of the magazine call in ASAP.

Apparently, Foxworthy was on the show earlier that morning. And apparently, one of the show staffers is an NWTF member who brought a copy of the Foxworthy cover to everyone’s attention. One thing led to another and…

I have to say I had a great time. I laughed A LOT, got to talk about the magazine and the NWTF, laughed some more, cringed a bit, then laughed again.

It’s true the NWTF server crashed while the show was airing. Whether or not I’m “hot” is in the eye of the beholder. Or maybe I really do have a face for radio.

Either way, it got folks talking about the NWTF. And we got a new server out of it…score!

It confirmed that what we do today (or perhaps what we did the other day) really makes a difference. I’ve already seen how a simple 10 minutes on the Bob & Tom Show has had an impact. I appreciate the folks who told me I portrayed hunting in a positive way or that it made them proud to be an NWTF member.

Who says Divine Plans can’t include rednecks or even turkey necks?

Attention outdoor TV junkies!

Big news for Pursuit Channel, home of NWTF programming! Starting TODAY it’s moving to DirecTV channel 604.

It’s a mere four remote clicks away from it’s previous home (608), but it’s a world of difference in bringing in more viewers to learn about the NWTF and our mission.

You see, right now, there’s this itty-bitty thing going on called the Olympics. NBC Sports, channel 603, is now Pursuit Channel’s neighbor, and they’ll provide great coverage of the games. Our hope is folks who may not dig women’s gymnastics will start channel surfing and land on one of our awesome shows.

Two NWTF shows are currently running on Pursuit Channel. “Get in the Game” shows viewers how to make their plot of dirt a haven for wildlife. And the exciting new “NWTF 365,” which debuted this summer, demonstrates how NWTF volunteers have stuff going on all year long — and not just during spring turkey season.

Haven’t had a chance to catch an episode of “NWTF 365” yet? Check out the show trailer below.

Then look for it on DirecTV channel 604 on Tuesdays (5:30 p.m.), Thursdays (1 a.m.) and Sundays (10 p.m.).

Find “Get in the Game” on Wednesdays (9:30 p.m.), Thursdays (5:30 p.m.), Fridays (12:30 a.m.) and Sundays (11:30 p.m.).

All times are EST.

So reset your DVRs and let your fellow hunters know of the big move. And if they don’t have Pursuit Channel, tell them they can catch episodes of “NWTF 365” and “Get in the Game” at www.pursuitchannel.com a week or so after they’ve aired.

Keepin’ Up With Brenda

Another NWTF representative is eastbound. Our spokesperson Brenda Valentine has headed overseas to personally thank our troops as part of the Outdoor Legends Tour.

She, along with TV personality Jim Shockey and North American Hunting Club’s Bill Miller, are on their way to military bases in Germany and Southwest Asia.

Meet the cast of the second Outdoor Legends Tour of 2012. Safe travels, y’all!

It’s the second tour of the year. If you remember, NWTF CEO George Thornton went on the same type of monumental voyage in March. Miss it? Then click here to get caught up.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version for those in a time crunch…

The NWTF partnered with armed Forces Entertainment and the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Outdoor Recreation Heritage Fund to participate in the Outdoors Legends Tour. George and Mossy Oak’s Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland worked closely with retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Lew Deal to recruit outdoor industry celebrities to travel overseas to visit and entertain active-duty U.S. military personnel.

The first crew to head over yonder included George, of course, as well as USMC Maj. Gen. Randy West, former Major League Baseball player Ryan Klesko, Bass Pro Shops TV host Jerry Martin, NWTF national spokesman Michael Waddell and outdoor TV personality Jim Zumbo.

Reading George’s blog entries, no doubt the experience was a life-changer for him. And I’m pretty sure the servicemen and women appreciated the gesture.

Now we have Ms. Brenda over there slathering those brave folks with her sweet-as-molasses Southern charm and extending the most sincere gratitude that I know she has for military fighting for our freedoms.

“I am honored, humbled, flattered. I have so many feelings about being the only woman invited to join the Outdoor Legends Tour,” Brenda said. “If I can brighten the day of troops in the field and hospital with stories of hunting, home and the outdoors, it’s mission accomplished.”

For the next week or so, you can keep up with Brenda by clicking on the “Brenda’s Outdoor Legends Tour” tab to the right. Check back as often as you can to see what she’s up to. Or you can subscribe to have the most up-to-date posts sent to your inbox.

I’ll be back on the scene soon enough … if Brenda hasn’t taken over my job by then.

 

Post-Palooza post and photos

I’m going to say it: It was freakin’ hot. I think the entire country sizzled a week ago Saturday, the day of the Turkey Palooza. South Carolina was no exception, reaching a near record temp of 106 F.

Yep, I really had to go in the dunking booth, which actually felt pretty good on that hotter-than-the-Devil’s-house day. You’re witnessing the split-second before my first dunk.

But we had fun — and that’s not just something I repeated to convince myself it’s true. The Turkey Palooza proved to be a good time, and I could see it in the sweat-speckled faces of everyone there.

An estimated 2,500 folks came to the Wild Turkey Center for food, games, music and — the big daddy attraction — fireworks. Was the NWTF ready for them? I could say no sweat, but with the Easy Bake Oven heat, that would be a lie.

It took a lot of hard work and 140 volunteers to pull off what quickly became more like a festival. Remember, these are some of the same folks who put on a convention and sport show for more than 35,000 every year. We know how to host a first-rate event, if I say so myself.

Here are some images to prove it. Just click on the first one to take you through a slide show. If you’re a Keepin’ Up With Karen subscriber (thank you!) and reading this off the email that was automatically sent to you, then click on the blog web link to view the slideshow.

[nggallery id=3 template=caption]

 

Turkey Palooza winners: It could be you!

A quick post to announce the Turkey Palooza online winners. Sure, we gave away 15 gift packages to people who came to the event last Saturday, but we didn’t forget the rest of you who couldn’t make it. So here ya go!

Latanya Green, a recent transplant to South Carolina, was chosen by the “Bloodline TV” crew for taking the best photo with the larger-than-life cutout of Alex Rutledge. Latanya won a range-to-field-to-wall turkey hunting package for posing with her cutie patootie girls.

NWTF Facebook photo contest
Scott Bell from Indiana was randomly drawn from the folks who voted for the winning photo of a Palooza-goer and the cutout of Alex Rutledge. He will receive a “Bloodline TV” prize package from Alex Rutledge in the flesh!

My Facebook contest
Anyone who was my friend on Facebook by 10 p.m. EST on Saturday, June 30, went into a drawing for a prize — a Grand Slam candle set handmade by me. I also threw in an NWTF-logoed Blazer lighter to set them ablaze. The winner is Tim Tipton from Kentucky!

Tim may not be jumping up and down at winning a bunch of candles, but I hear the lighter is good for lighting cigars. Then he can use the candles to cover up the smell. Just a suggestion.

Keepin’ Up With Karen blog follower contest
In yet another attempt to lure in more blog followers, I gave a prize to one of my beloved subscribers. Everyone who jumped on the Keepin’ Up With Karen train by 10 p.m. EST, June 30, had a chance to win signed turkey calls from Michael Waddell and Brenda Valentine. And the calls went to blog follower Dean Underhill of Kentucky.

The Bluegrass State is on fire!!!

I appreciate everyone taking part in our effort to spread the fun of Turkey Palooza.

Check back next week for some Palooza photos. In the meantime, I’m taking a long weekend off, whether I deserve it or not!

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!)