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.


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).

Wandering the Halls: Ryan Kirby, a hunting dude’s artist

We’re going beyond the halls with this NWTF employee and into the exhibit hall of the NWTF National Convention, where you’ll find Ryan Kirby this week, showcasing and selling his wildlife art.

Although I benefit from Ryan’s talent as a graphic artist for Turkey Country, so much of his creativity goes beyond designing magazine pages. He’s a multi-media phenom — from lifelike illustrations to cartoons, Web pages to paintings.

When I asked him what paint color he’d be, he answered burnt sienna. “It’s the most versatile color I use,” he said. Well said. He’s the NWTF’s burnt sienna too. We use (hopefully not abuse) his abilities to their fullest extent on a daily basis.

Ryan Kirby has donated artwork to the NWTF since he was 14, which was like three years ago. Just kidding. Ryan may be young, but he’s accomplished a lot in his 20s. The NWTF selected him as the 2010 Stamp Print Artist. You may have bid on his work at the NWTF National Convention or at Hunting Heritage Banquets in South Carolina or Illinois.

I, for one, feel exceptionally inadequate when I watch him work and see what he creates. But I don’t let it get me down. ‘Cause I know when the TV and magazine reporters come calling, I’ll be the first in line to talk about how I knew him before he became famous. Yes, folks, he’s THAT good.

Read more about him below, then stop by booth #349 in the exhibit hall and take your turn at feeling inadequate. It’s nothing a little retail therapy won’t cure. Ryan is giving back to the NWTF 10 percent of what he sells at the convention, so you’re helping yourself, Ryan and the NWTF’s mission with your purchase.

Not going to the NWTF National Convention? Then check out www.ryankirbyart.com. Helping two out of three ain’t bad.

OFFICIAL TITLE: graphic artist and illustrator

JOB DESCRIPTION:  I work within our team of designers to layout Turkey Country magazine and produce other materials for print and Web. I also create illustrations for a bunch of other projects throughout the year.

NWTF EMPLOYEE SINCE: I left for a brief time then came back, so almost six years over two separate stints. (Ah, the NWTF’s prodigal son…)

WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU CAME TO WORK FOR THE NWTF? I was in college. This was my first full-time gig right out the chute.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB? The people I work with are great. We’re pretty brutal messing with each other, and that’s fun. But if I had to pick an actual work assignment, it would be illustrating hunting scenarios for the magazine. That and illustrating Tom Kelly’s humor column at the back of Turkey Country. I like projects where I’ve got a lot of freedom to be as creative as I like.

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE PART? Leaving a deer stand or the turkey woods to come to work on a weekday.

FINISH THIS SENTENCE: I USUALLY SPEND MY LUNCH BREAK…working. It’s lame I know, but most of the time I eat a sandwich at my desk, and I’ll work on putting together my next painting composition or something like that. If I really need a break, I’ll head behind the office to the archery range and sling some arrows at the 3-D bear target. I’ve put a hurting on him this year.

Ryan on his painting, Boys Night Out: “This was one of my favorite paintings, mainly because of the freedom I took in portraying the foliage. Most of the evening light is coming from behind the deer and lighting up the tree line in golden light, while their velvet racks are catching a lot of blue from the sky directly above them, highlighting their impressive headgear. These two late summer bucks are enjoying one of their last evenings together as buds. Soon this turf won’t be big enough for both of them, and they’ll go their separate ways in search of ladies. I’ve still got the original and, this year, made it my first edition of 100 signed and numbered prints.” You can win one of the prints by stopping by Ryan’s booth (#349) during the NWTF National Convention.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ALTER-EGO, THE PAINTER: Well, because I’m working the NWTF full time, most of my painting is done at night and sometimes on a weekend. I typically start a painting session about 7 p.m. and paint until I’m mentally cashed out. I’ve found it’s not about the quantity of hours you log, but the quality of the time. I also try to use the time I’m hunting to gather new ideas for a painting. I’ve typically got a camera and sketchpad in my hunting pack. I also read a ton and study other artists for technique and inspiration.

HOW DO YOU GET IN “THE ZONE” TO PAINT? Going to the gym after work helps clear my head and put my workday behind me. I need a clear head to work. It’s intense creative work and takes a lot of mental clarity, so I do everything I can to stay healthy and happy to avoid burnout.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE ARTIST? Carl Rungius (1869-1959). He was a true outdoorsman and excellent artist. He’d take a sketchpad, easel, canvases, paint and hunting gear to the remote parts of Alberta and work while hunting. My favorite story of his career is from a moose hunt. He sat down to paint a remote landscape one fall while on a hunt. Rifle at his side, he would occasionally throw out a cow call. About halfway through his painting, he heard a bull answer, and as he got close, Rungius put down the brush and picked up his rifle. The moose kept coming, walking right into the scene Rungius had been painting, where he dropped the bull on the first shot. He showed me how to combine hunting and art into a single career — there’s no need for them to be separate.

Wandering the Halls: Ryan McDuffie, development department administrative assistant

‘Tis the season for giving. That’s what Ryan McDuffie hopes for, at least. She works in the development department at the NWTF, which oversees planned gifts, large donations and other stuff that keeps the NWTF’s wheels moving forward.

But there are a lot of other things Ryan likes about the Christmas season — hot cocoa, lights, the smell of pine. And she has a thing for fat men wearing red. (What woman doesn’t?)

Ryan has an extra reason to celebrate this year. She and her husband, Sam, who also works for the NWTF, brought a little McDuffie into the world this fall. First Christmases as a new family are so precious. Lemme hear a collective awww…

Watch out mall Santas across the country! Ryan McDuffie is looking for you (and your wallet).

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ryan McDuffie:

OFFICIAL TITLE: development department administrative assistant

JOB DESCRIPTION: I manage the Combined Federal Campaign and the NWTF Legacy program. I handle incoming department inquiries and try to direct people to the right place.


WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU CAME TO WORK FOR THE NWTF? I worked with Child Protective Services as an investigator.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB? Helping raise money for the NWTF.

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE PART? The amount of time I sit in my desk chair. I would really prefer to be outside more or moving around more at least.

FINISH THIS SENTENCE: I USUALLY SPEND MY LUNCH BREAK…with the NWTF’s museum coordinator, because he’s pretty good looking and has an adorable little boy.

IF YOU WERE A PLANT, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? A pansy, because they’re pretty, hardy and common. And that’s good enough for me.

IF YOU COULD HAVE FRONT ROW TICKETS TO ANY MUSICAL ARTIST/BAND EVER, WHO WOULD IT BE? Ryan Adams, NOT to be confused with Bryan Adams. (What, Ryan?!? You mean you’re not into sappy ballads and songs about the summer of ’69?) I love all his songs and he is a great songwriter, lyrically.

Wandering the Halls: Jamie Hutchinson, associate TV producer

OK, this dude just cracks me up. I got to know Jamie at last year’s national convention when I shared a suite at the Opryland hotel with the TV production crew.

That’s sounds kind of bad, so let’s take a minute to dodge any scandals: It was a last-minute room change. My husband was there. I could lock the door to my part of the suite. There. Are you satisfied?

The point is when you work in close quarters with someone and depend on them to get your job done at an event as big as our convention, you become fast friends.

Jamie is like a ninja when it comes to humor. He delivers these one-liners in such a deadpan tone it leaves you wondering what just transpired. Then a couple seconds later, you realize what he said and begin laughing hysterically.

Just like when he answered the following questions, he said: “I’m opening the window to my soul here, so be gentle.” Priceless…

If TV production ever doesn’t work out for Jamie Hutchinson, I want to hire him to sit in my office and make me laugh every 10 minutes.

OFFICIAL TITLE: associate TV producer

JOB DESCRIPTION: I edit TV shows, video hunts, interview people on camera and do a bit more editing.


WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU CAME TO WORK FOR THE NWTF? I produced television and Web commercials for businesses nice enough to pay me to do so.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB? I like meeting new people and working outdoors.

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE PART? Though I realize it’s a necessary evil, I really don’t like getting on and off airplanes. But if that’s my only problem, I’m doing pretty good, right?

FINISH THIS SENTENCE: I USUALLY SPEND MY LUNCH BREAK…eating. Should I be doing something else?

IF YOU WERE A WILD ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? I’d be a duck. Any animal that gets to hang out near water and also has the ability to walk, fly or swim is ideal. Plus, if you can find a neighborhood pond, then people will feed you. You just have to quack and look pretty. (Note: I can do both.)

Wandering the Halls: Todd Price, graphic designer

When I think of Todd Price, Clemson football, sarcasm and the image of him dressed as a prep for my ‘80s-themed roller skating birthday party pop into my head. He’s not a stereotypical artist, dressed in black, listening to Morrissey and stuff. None of the NWTF’s graphic artists are.

But Todd’s a darn good designer, wrapped in the skin of a family guy wearing a polo shirt, always ready to talk smack about sports, politics or whatever you throw his way.

Todd Price — Don’t let the button-down shirt and American dad persona fool you. This guy’s a raging artist who expresses himself through hunting t-shirt designs and magazine layouts featuring dead animals.

Blogosphere, it’s time to get to know Todd.

OFFICIAL TITLE: senior graphic designer

JOB DESCRIPTION: graphic designer and job giver-outer


WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU CAME TO WORK FOR THE NWTF? I was a graphic designer for Expotechnik, a trade show exhibit company in Atlanta.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB? All the projects we get to work on, from logos and fliers to magazine layouts.

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE PART? Short turn-arounds on projects and edits

FINISH THIS SENTENCE: I USUALLY SPEND MY LUNCH BREAK…eating and reading on the Internet.

IF YOU WERE A WILD ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? A bear. They fish and sleep.

IF YOU WERE A PLANT, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? A fern. They get to hang out on people’s front porches.

IF YOU WERE A NATIONAL HOLIDAY, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? Thanksgiving. You get to eat and sleep.

I’m starting to see a trend here, Todd. Todd? Are you awake? Todd…

Wandering the Halls: Gregg Powers, Turkey Country managing editor

It’s only fitting that my first Wandering the Halls victim is Gregg Powers, managing editor of Turkey Country. That’s where I spend a lot of my time, perched on his filing cabinet and, according to him, telling him what to do.

Gregg and I share a love of music, and he’s THE coworker that would give me a run for my money in a music trivia match. (He’d run laps around me on ‘70s rock and country; I’d school him on ‘80s pop and ‘90s grunge.) He’s a drummer and oftentimes returns home to Tennessee to jam with friends and, of course, visit his sweet and sassy girlfriend. (Love ya, Candy.)

Gregg Powers — Turkey Country managing editor, drummer, music buff and NWTF employee mostly likely to rejoin the KISS Army today

Here’s how he answered my questions…

OFFICIAL TITLE: Turkey Country managing editor

JOB DESCRIPTION: I make sure the magazine gets out, on time…and do what Karen tells me to do.


WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU CAME TO WORK FOR THE NWTF? I was the outdoor writer/editor for the Johnson City Press in Johnson City, Tenn.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB? I have lots of favorites. I like seeing the magazine come together. I enjoy editing the stories and, of course, I like hunting turkeys. I work with a great bunch of creative people.

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE PART? I don’t have many least favorite parts. I guess preparing for convention, because it falls during a busy time of magazine production. We’re working on the March-April issue then, which is our biggest issue each year.

FINISH THIS SENTENCE: I USUALLY SPEND MY LUNCH BREAK…eating with the gang in the communications department, mostly with Karen and her husband, CJ. I’m usually thinking about what needs to get done back at the office.

IF YOU WERE A CAR/TRUCK PART, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? The tires. They’re very important in getting you where you need to go.

Wandering the halls of Turkey Town


Writer’s block is a real part of my daily life. If you write often, you know what I mean. If you don’t, allow me to explain.

Writer’s block is like constipation of the brain. You’ve got a ton of thoughts swimming around up there, but none of them want to come out, not in a coherent sentence at least.

That was kind of gross comparison, but now everyone is on the same page. Right?

When I suffer from writer’s block, I have to get up from my desk and walk around to get my creative juices flowing. I wander the halls of NWTF headquarters.

I have my usual haunts, stopovers and whatnot, but sometimes I just go rogue and pester people around the office. You get to know folks that way. And, inevitably, I return to my desk with some kind of inspiration and get back on track.

Now that I have a blog, I’ve vowed to make my hallway treks doubly useful. I want to introduce you to the awesome folks who work at the NWTF.

Each Wandering the Halls post will feature a coworker, a little bit about his or her job, where they came from and a quirky fact or two.

I hope you enjoy this new addition to my ramblings, as well as getting to know the people of the NWTF.

Come on, follow me as I wander the halls of Turkey Town…