Celebrate Thanksgiving with Bob and Tom in Turkey Country

Started this morning on the Bob and Tom Show again, but this time I had a head’s up and wasn’t blindsided by the madness. We chatted a bit about Thanksgiving, turkey hunting, going to my Aunt Nanci’s, stuff like that. No random comments about hotness or turkey necks. It was really subdued compared to the last time — but still fun.

If you missed my first interview with Team Bob and Tom, click here to check out the crazy mess.

If you already heard it, then you know the back story behind this wacky Turkey Country cover. Our staff decided to have a little fun and sent this to the show’s producer. Between us hens, this is as close as Bob or Tom will get to gracing our cover for real — unless they decide to start turkey hunting.

If I’m on their show enough, maybe I can convince them. (Or at least get Kristy Lee to a Women in the Outdoors event. Two gals with guns? Nothing hotter than that!)

Stay tuned for today’s interview. Until then, HAPPY TURKEY DAY! And don’t forget to dig in with a thankful heart…

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?

Read the July-August Turkey Country and get more involved (not necessarily in that order)

The NWTF is nothing without its volunteers. And I’m not saying that just to butter their toast. It’s true.

There are NWTF members and there are volunteers. And there’s a difference between the two. Members pay their annual dues, skim through Turkey Country, maybe even drop by a local Hunting Heritage banquet. We like them too.

But it’s volunteers who really move this conservation train forward. They’re the folks who DO something about our mission. They host fundraising banquets, coordinate outreach events and get their fingernails dirty while improving wildlife habitat.

NWTF involvement: Let the magazine be your guide.

They’re the ones who have stopped making excuses as to why they can’t be more involved.

Now, I’m not going to delve into all the personal reasons that keep you from making the transition from member to volunteer. It’s not my business. Nor am I trying to make you feel guilty. (Your conscious is probably doing that for me.)

Instead, allow me to demonstrate how there’s a place in the NWTF for everyone. I’ll show you how even the most obscure people can take the volunteer plunge with the help of my little friend, Turkey Country.

Scenario No. 1: Even though you’re middle-aged, you find it’s easier to communicate with kids than adults. They speak your language, dawg!
The NWTF offers a ton of ways to chill with a younger crowd. JAKES and Xtreme JAKES events are a no-brainer. Check out Mandy Harling’s column on page 60 to find inspiration. Flip back to page 22 to learn about more NWTF-sponsored projects for youngsters, like More Kids in the Woods. Then zip over to page 41 and see what’s happening with Arizona’s JAKES Turkey Hunting Camps. NWTF chapters always need fun adults to help mold young minds on behalf of conservation, so embrace your inner child and join us.

Scenario No. 2: You’re a land baron who wanders aimlessly around your thousands of wooded acres. You’re lost, lonely and looking for ways to draw wildlife to your land.
You, sir or ma’am, are in need of a Wild Turkey Woodland Landowner Field Day. Learn how to get started on page 24. It’s like speed dating for wildlife managers. Landowners are paired with expert biologists, contractors and government plans to help with their individual habitat goals. Then comes the first site visit, which is like a first date. But don’t call it that. It creeps out the biologists.

Scenario No. 3: You haven’t been involved in politics since you ran for student council in middle school. Is there a way to get back into it AND benefit the NWTF mission at the same time?
Many state NWTF chapters have joined “camo coalitions” to make their voices heard to legislators and the like. Read page 26 to learn more. If you’re more of a take action loner, check out Shooting Straight in each Turkey Country, which highlights hunting and wildlife issues, as well as how you can get involved. Let NWTF volunteer Dave Wamer serve as your guide. Find an interview with this pro-active policy follower on page 75. Doing so may not further your political career, but it may gain you points with a wilder constituency.

So, folks, let’s drop kick any excuses for not getting involved in the NWTF. We’re happy to have you as part of the flock, even if you are a bit quirky. Heck, they’ve kept me around going on 13 years now.

 

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.

Grab your March-April issue and let’s go for a walk

Who’s gotten their March-April issue of Turkey Country yet? Who’s already read their copy? Of course, you all have…

Well, here’s the deal on my side of the desk.

By the time an issue of Turkey Country reaches your mailbox, it’s all but a distant memory to us on the magazine staff. We’re already halfway through producing the next one (May-June in this case), with the articles for the one after that (July-August) in the hopper, waiting for us to put our baddest ninja moves on them.

Spring won't have officially sprung until next week, but the season has arrived in Turkey Country!

So, when I make these why-I-love-the-current-issue-of-Turkey Country posts, it’s really a walk down Memory Lane. And that lane has a fork in it.

The happy prong of the fork, the one paved with candy, with friendly blue jays chirping in the trees, is the path where I am reminded of all the great information that goes in each issue.

That’s not simply a pat on the back of the magazine staff (though they deserve one). It’s more of a GO TEAM NWTF moment, when I realize how much good work we’re doing as an organization.

The other side of Memory Lane is the one where you trip over the gnarly roots of the mistake tree. Some genius once said, ”I do my best proofreading after I hit send.” Same goes for a magazine. Just goes to show we’re hard working, not perfect.

Let’s hop back over to the other path and chat about my favorite stuff in the March-April issue. There are so many articles that make me do a happy dance, I’ve grouped them in sections. Here goes:

STUFF THAT MAKES ME PROUD TO BE AN NWTF MEMBER/STAFFER

Even though it seems as if EVERYONE was talking about the Outdoor Legends Tour the last couple weeks, some folks might be a bit late to the game. In this issue’s On The Horizon (more affectionately known as CEO Notes), George Thornton sets up his trip to visit our troops overseas. Read his notes in the magazine to get the background, then send your cursor on a short trip to the right and click on George’s Outdoor Legends Tour link for seven days of diary entries from his experience.

Because of NWTF members, more than 77,000 people WEREN’T hungry last holiday season. The Turkey Hunters Care program, which started in 2001, has been a wonderful, effective community outreach effort for our chapters who donate frozen turkeys and fixin’s to families in need each year. A big high-five to the 167 chapters that participated in the most recent effort. Read about them in The Caller.

Love the wild turkey range map in the annual Turkey Country SPRING HUNT GUIDE? Wish you had a big honkin’ one to hang in your bedroom under your Jackie Chan poster? Buy one for only $9.99 at www.OutdoorDealHound.com.

Four words: I LOVE BRENDA VALENTINE. Her column, Hen Tracks, just makes me smile every time it pops into my e-mail inbox. The one she wrote for the March-April issue, “The best kind of insurance policy,” articulately explained why your NWTF membership is important, not just to you as an individual, but for the future of hunting. You rock, Ms. Brenda…

Did you read Randy Green’s Wheelin’ & Able column? It’ll be the first of many. The super dynamic volunteer from Illinois is now our Wheelin’ Sportsmen national coordinator. It’s so cool when an active volunteer joins the staff. And Randy is nothing short of exceptional. Y’all be sure to make him feel at home. Flood his e-mail with welcome notes. I’m sure he doesn’t have a lot to do, starting a new job, finding a house, relocating his family and all.

STUFF THAT MAKES ME PROUD TO BE A HUNTER

News Flash: Hunting safer than cheerleading! For real, you are 25 times more likely to get hurt building a pyramid for your home team than toting a gun to the woods in search of critters. GO! FIGHT! WIN! This victory goes to hunters, because you earned it. Read more about it in this issue’s Showcase.

Who doesn’t want to be associated with the cool guys? I know I do. And we just updated www.turkeycountrymagazine.com with interviews from a couple of the coolest guys in turkey calling — Chris Parrish and Mark Prudhomme. Bask in their hunting genius as they give you tips for taking on the woods this spring.

STUFF THAT REINFORCES THAT I JUST MIGHT NOT BE RIGHT IN THE HEAD

Page 52 – Cook Nook: I’m not grossed out by the thoughts of eating a turkey neck. However, my stomach turns just LOOKING at that dollop of mayonnaise. Yep, I’m that turned off by it.

Page 148 – Species Spotlight: Even though it destroys millions of ash trees that are valuable to wildlife, I have to admit the emerald ash borer is cute. But it must die…

Page 150 – Landowner Resources: I’m pretty pumped that purple has made its way into hunting, and not just in some marketing scheme to get more women to buy a product. Purple is the new “No Trespassing” in Illinois. Pretty awesome.

7 reasons why I’m psyched about the upcoming Turkey Country issue

The next issue of Turkey Country should be in your mailbox soon, no doubt bundled with a tree’s worth of Christmas cards and catalogs from companies trying to squeeze just one more dime out of last-minute shoppers.

Here are a few of the gotta-see and must-read pages of the January-February 2012 issue, according to me at least.

1. THE COVER — The frosted tips of the turkey’s body feathers and beard will send shivers up your spine, but don’t overlook his wings worn flat from dragging and strutting. If that doesn’t get you warmed up for spring, then you must not have a bone to pick with a boss tom somewhere. Thanks, Guy Tillett, for snapping this shot — and for making me pine for turkey season even more.

What media outlet includes hand cuffs, video cameras and a lot of grass? The latest issue of Turkey Country, of course! And YOU thought I was talking about an episode of "Cops"...

2. PAGE 15 — The often-overlooked cyber sister to Turkey Country (www.turkeycountrymagazine.com) is full of exclusive features, quick access to many of the links in the magazine and an easy entrance for members to participate in Answer the Call, Snapshots and Ask Dr. Tom. We hope to pique your curiosity with this new page of teasers. This installment of the online version has stories on using turkey feathers in traditional archery to a roundup of outdoors-related apps for a smart phone, and a little coyote hunting and outdoor humor in between.

3. PAGE 21 — I simply love this photo by Senior Editor PJ Perea. It’s incredibly eye-catching and demonstrates there’s so much beauty in the smallest details of nature.

4. NWTF TRACK STARS — We feature Kevin Howard of Howard Communications, who was 2011’s NWTF Communicator of the Year.  I’ve worked with Kevin and his team and found all the nice stuff said about them in the article to be true. What I didn’t know, however, is that Kevin starts every workday with group prayer. That’s a leader who has his priorities in order.

5. 25 WAYS TO CURE CABIN FEVER — There’s a ton of fun stuff to do outside in winter, but it’s cool (check out the pun) to see so many of them gathered in a list. Makes me wish I could teleport myself to a snowy part of the country for a day of fun, then come home to sunny South Carolina and not have to worry about putting chains on my tires.

6. TURKEY CALLS — J.J. Reich tells us about a couple companies that make turkey calls out of submerged hardwoods like cypress. There’s only so much of this old, waterlogged wood around, and apparently it makes one heckuva turkey call. I just think they’re neat because it’s pieces of natural history, recycled.

7. POACHER-PROOF YOUR PROPERTY — When a poacher’s creeping in from your neighbor’s hood … who ya gonna call? Game wardens! (Bravo, if you just sang that to the tune of Ghostbusters.) In all seriousness, I really enjoyed this interview with Game Warden Roger Tate of Arkansas. He was honored at our national convention last year for putting the smack down on ne’er-do-wells who won’t play by the same rules as the rest of us. (He’s also apparently a nice guy who has a heart for outreach.) Tate gives landowners and hunt lease holders tips for keeping these bad apples from hugging your property line and what to do if you catch one in the act.

Hope you find a couple of silent nights to enjoy these pages and the rest of the magazine over the holidays.

Must-see Karen Lee TV

Here’s a little something for those of you who’ve been keeping up with me the past few weeks, wondering if I ever turkey hunt or just yammer about my family, feelings and Christmas trees.

I offer you proof that I can sling a 3½-inch shotshell at a living, breathing bird. Catch me on Outdoor Channel this week. It’s playing reruns of the episode of “Benelli On Assignment” where I take down a turkey in Texas with a Super Vinci.

It airs on the 16th at 9 a.m. (which goes nicely with your second cup of coffee for the day) and a pre-lunch showing on the 17th at 11:30 a.m.

The production company did an excellent job in putting the show together, but I have to say I look like I have a big head — literally, not figuratively. My noggin easily looks twice its normal size.

Now if that doesn’t get your TiVo or DVR going, I don’t know what will.

Anyway, I hope you’ll tune in. And then check out the companion piece I wrote on the hunt in the January-February 2012 issue of Turkey Country. It’s cleverly titled “Hunting for a TV Show,” where I give my inside view on what it takes to make a hunting show happen, including the self-inflicted pressure to shoot something and not look stupid.

I need a little Christmas (tree)

I jumped into Christmas with both feet this weekend.

I wrapped a few presents. Made yet another gift order from Amazon.com. Slurped down a mug of gingerbread hot chocolate from IHOP (it’ll change your life). Went to a local Christmas parade with my two main guys. Then topped off Sunday night with a road trip to Lights of the South in Grovetown, Ga., which boasts more than 4 million lights over 100 acres — and we walked them ALL.

I’m so giddy with holiday cheer I’ve even cheated on my tried-and-true XM stations (80s on 8 and Hair Nation) and dabbled in a little Christmas music.

I finally committed to decorating my office Christmas tree today. It’s a whopping 3-footer, complete with some of the hunting- and fishing-themed ornaments my mom has bought me over the years.

Oh, Christmas tree, office Christmas tree. You keep me from going holiday crazy…

My favorites are the little s’mores guys. They look like marshmallow snowmen, each sitting atop a graham cracker. One is roasting a weenie over a pinecone campfire; another is dressed in hunter orange and pointing his loaded cinnamon stick in a safe direction.

That little tree will serve as a beacon of cheesy, cutesy cheer all month long.

December is a juggling act for me, like I’m sure it is for all of you. It’s the beginning of production for the March-April issue of Turkey Country — our biggest issue of the year. It’s when my dance card for SHOT Show begins to fill. And it’s the calm before the storm that is the NWTF’s annual national convention (which is Feb. 9 to 12 at Nashville’s Gaylord Resort and Convention Center, by the way. Register online at www.nwtf.org/special_events/convention.html).

Mix all that with Christmas parties, shopping, decorating, overeating and plop it on top of daily life, and I’m one skin breakout away from throwing a tinsel-flyin’ hissy fit.

But there’s something about a Christmas tree that brings end-of-the-year, hectic holiday hoopla into balance.

Perhaps because a Christmas tree is often a reflection of who we are and what’s important to us. Each ornament tells our story — our hobbies, our family, favorite colors and interests, if we’re coordinated or like a little randomness (like me).

When you step away and look at the entire tree, all those tiny elements blur together to make a single, beautiful sight.

Take time to soak in your Christmas tree this December. Grab a cup of cocoa, put your arm around a loved one and look at everything you are, everything you’ve accomplished and what you stand for.

P. S. — I would love to see what your tree looks like and what it says about you. Send photos to me via email, or let’s become friends on Facebook and share them there. Search for Karen Lee National Wild Turkey Federation and you’ll find me and my alter ego. Pick Karen Lee for Keepin’ Up With Karen, otherwise you’ll find my grossly-neglected personal Facebook account.

The board is back in town

I know it’s the week of the quarterly national board meeting when I get the office-wide memo to clean up our work areas. Not that we exist in squalor, mind you, but it’s a gesture of putting on your best face. Like brushing your teeth right before a dentist visit. It’s just a nice thing to do.

Plus, I really need an excuse to de-clutter my desk — and my brain.

BEFORE: My cluttered desk is totally representative of my cluttered mind. But that’s about to change. Oh, and please notice the two cups of sweet tea, because just one will NOT get you through a workday.

Although I don’t sit in any of the board sessions or committee meetings, it’s still a time of anticipation. Decisions are made that affect our organization, my job for that matter.

That’s why I hope you will vote in the upcoming election. Information on the candidates is on pages 32 and 33 of the November-December issue of Turkey Country. The ballot is sandwiched between them.

Read up on the six hopefuls. Decide who you think is best for our organization. Vote for three. And walk it to the mailbox. It’s that easy. You don’t even need a stamp!

In the time it takes for you to read this blog entry and place your vote, I’ll have my desk clean and board-visit ready.

Then we’ll both have done our part to make the NWTF run as efficient as possible.

AFTER: Can’t you smell the lemon-scented Pledge? Ahhhh … thank you national board.

 

How the other half thinks

I wrote an article for the November-December issue titled, “Inside the Mind of a Nonhunter.” It has the tagline: If you don’t care what they think of us, you should.

Hunters and nonhunters alike should check out the article I wrote in the November-December 2011 issue. By the way, the annoyed-looking hunter in the picture is my husband.

It may seem like I’m tooting my own horn, but it actually reveals some really useful information for hunters and nonhunters alike.

You see, I didn’t grow up in a hunting family. And my immediate family still doesn’t hunt. But they’re cool with me doing it, however, their support comes with caveats.

My sister won’t eat meat at my house unless she sees the grocery store package it came in. Albeit, she’s a pretty picky eater, but I’m happy to make two extra beef patties when the rest of us are having venison burgers to keep the peace.

When I talk to my mom before leaving on a hunting trip, she says: “Well, be safe. And I hope you kill something … if that’s what you want to do.” I just smile and understand those are strange words to her: “I hope you kill something.”

My dad doesn’t hunt but loves to relay my stories from the field to his friends. He hunts vicariously through me, which I find quite sweet. He’s an animal lover that has brought a hamster back from near death. I’m serious. He really did.

All of this to say that I have a vested interest in how to communicate with nonhunters. My family still has to love me even if they don’t hunt, but what about seatmates on an airplane or fellow patients in the doctor’s office?

I jumped feet first into some incredible research by Responsive Management that revealed how nonhunters view those of us who kill game. I have since formed an intellectual crush on Responsive Management Executive Director Mark Duda, who provided some real insight into what contributes to nonhunters’ opinions and what we should do and say to make sure we can all stay friends.

I hope you’ll read it and share it with your friends who hunt, and even with those who don’t. Communication is key to any successful relationship, so let’s start talking.