Brenda Valentine’s Outdoor Legends Tour: Day 4

Lt. Col. (ret) Lew Deal couldn’t wait to don his Mossy Oak Turkey THUG cap in Kyrgyzstan, a Turkic state.

We left Germany today, which meant my last German dining experience. Kangaroo meat was on the buffet, along with a few other critters I can’t pronounce.

Of course I tried them! Not bad at all.

After another all-night flight with a stop in Istanbul, we arrived in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan where the Manas Military Base is located and our luggage awaited us.

Apparently, my luggage went on a different tour than I did…

Lt. Col. (ret) Lew Deal couldn’t wait to don his Mossy Oak Turkey THUG cap. I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to find an English-speaking person so I could report my missing luggage.

Folks kept telling me not to worry, it was JUST luggage. I have a theory about missing luggage and toothaches. Both are whole lot more serious when they are yours.

— Brenda

 

Brenda Valentine’s Outdoor Legends Tour: Day 3

The first official stop of the Outdoor Legends Tour was the USO Warrior Center at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Our first official stop was the USO Warrior Center at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Sick or injured military personnel are first transported to this hospital for treatment or therapy before coming to the States or being deployed wherever duty calls, whatever the situation may be.

The Warrior Center was clean and a place of support. There seemed to be a swarm of activities for the patients. The food was fresh, tasty and plentiful. Moral was high. And many of the staff are hunters.

This recuperating serviceman couldn’t get enough turkey talk, so I left copies of Turkey Country for the center’s library, as well as DVD copies of the Bass Pro TV show.

I just happened to have some copies of Turkey Country to add to their library and gave a few turkey calling lessons using a drinking straw. We spent much of the day signing pictures and spending time with rehabilitating servicemen.

We were then taken on a tour of the hospital and had an opportunity to visit the patients. As far as hospitals go, this one was very good. The United States built it in the early 1950s and it still looks brand new. Everything was sparkling clean. The staff was professional but super courteous and friendly. Best of all, it didn’t smell like a hospital.

The common theme I noticed from every conversation was a desire to get back with their comrades.

The patients seemed pleased to see and talk with folks from home. The common theme I noticed from every conversation was a desire to get back with their comrades. All regretted they weren’t there to help their unit complete their mission.

— Brenda

Brenda Valentine’s Outdoor Legends Tour: Day 2

View from the Rhine River

Our group met at dawn for the first time at the Frankfurt airport after all-night flights. The good news was there was a driver in a big red bus there to meet us. The bad news we couldn’t check into our hotel rooms until 2:30 that afternoon.

As much as our bodies were screaming rest, our adventuresome spirits were chomping at the bit to explore. We chartered a boat up the Rhine River and were fascinated by the towering granite castles amongst the miles of well-maintained vineyards, both defying time and progress as the river rolled on.

No German dining experience is complete without a round of “Cotton-Eyed Joe.”

We had lunch in a quaint old villa near the river. Ancient grapevines adorned the canopies and open-air dining. I was enjoying the ambience, including other diners chatting in unknown tongues, when a rocking blast of “Cotton-Eyed Joe” spit out of speakers. The tune was the same, but the words were sung in German. How’s that for a hybrid culture?

It took me a long study of the menu to decide on what to order, mainly because I couldn’t read it. And if I could figure out the words, I wasn’t sure what it was. A “pig knuckle” sounded pretty wholesome, however I didn’t expect it to be the better part of a hog’s leg. Bill and I had enough pork to share with everyone.

Pig knuckles — enough pork to feed an army

I’m digging these German ways so far. Two-stepping music and pig knuckles, what else could a country girl want?

— Brenda

 

Brenda Valentine’s Outdoor Legends Tour: Day 1

Gazing out the window of Flight 700 headed to Frankfurt, Germany, I watched the last fragment of U.S. soil near Philadelphia slowly fade from sight. I pondered what lay ahead for our small group of pioneers.

Armed Forces Entertainment and Paralyzed Veterans of America contacted me more than a year ago about being a part of a special mission called the Outdoor Legends Tour. A small group of hunting personalities representing the North American hunting community would visit troops inside a war zone to personally thank them for their service and sacrifices.

Brenda Valentine is a woman on a mission: to say thank you on behalf of the National Wild Turkey Federation to the military men and women serving our country.

It was not to be a big production, rather a personal handshaking marathon trip with stops at as many camps as possible. Every detail would have to be carefully orchestrated if it was to be carried out safely and successfully.

The group I was part of included Bill Miller from Minnesota, a pillar of the outdoor media world and an all-around nice guy. He was at the helm North American Hunting Club magazine and TV show for 28 years and has extensive gun and hunting knowledge. While Bill is experienced with all types of hunting, his specialty is waterfowl and upland birds, with a real love for training sporting dogs.

Jim Shockey is a world-renowned big game hunter and award-winning TV host. He is from Canada and a wise choice for this mission since so many Canadian military men and women serve alongside U.S. troops and allies. His trademark black cowboy hat is recognizable to hunters everywhere.

Lt. Col. Lew Deal is a retired Marine Cobra pilot who now works with Armed Forces Entertainment among other military and veterans organizations. We were glad to have someone along to advise us on military protocol. Although Lew was our official tour coordinator he soon became just one of the guys.

Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland, the man behind the many successful Mossy Oak TV productions as well as a recognizable hunting personality, was scheduled to be a part of our group. However, a family health crisis kept him from going. I felt really bad for Cuz, since it’s truly in his heart to support our fighting men and women in the field.

I completed the diverse quartet. Pretty sure the service people I met from the South appreciated hearing a familiar accent with a sincere “thank y’all.”

—   Brenda

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.

The sound of silence

People ask me when my husband and I plan to take our son Cooper, 3, hunting.

I fight the urge to burst out laughing, because it’s neither polite nor constructive.

Instead, the recollection part of my brain takes over, and I think back to 5:30 the evening before, when I pick Cooper up from daycare, or “school” as we like to call it.

Cooper helps Daddy broadcast seed for a food plot. Of course, some kind of stuffed animal is always in tow.

Here’s typically how our 8-minute ride home goes…

Me: What did you do at school today?
Cooper:
I don’t remember. What’s that bird doing over there?
Me:
What bird?
Cooper:
That one flying. I bet it’s going home to his mommy and daddy. Or maybe McDonald’s. Do birds eat French fries?
Me:
Some will, but…
Cooper:
No they don’t. They eat seeds. We need to put seed in our feeders at home. Daddy and I need to. Hey, where’s Daddy? Is he home yet? I need to go potty.
Me:
Can you wait until we get home?
Cooper:
Can I have a treat when I get home? Daddy will give me a treat. I want a peppermint. Can I ride my bike when I get home? Will you ride with me? I need to put on my helmet. Hey, there’s a stop sign. S-T-O-P. That’s stop. You didn’t stop, Mommy. Why are stop signs red?
Me:
Well…
Cooper:
Caleb pushed me down at school today. I fell on my hiney.
Me:
Is your hiney OK?
Cooper:
Ooooooooh, you said hiney! You’re a potty mouth!

You get the drift.

But what you don’t understand is that’s ONLY THE FIRST MINUTE.

I snap out of my glazed-over look and back into the present conversation. I politely answer, “When we feel he can sit still and be quiet long enough to really enjoy it.”

In the meantime, we take him to check trail cameras and food plots. Cooper “hunts” for feathers and acorns along the way. I’ve learned to bring along a small paper bag with a handle to tote out the treasures he finds.

We talk about hunting. And we answer a TON of questions…

Where are all the deer?
Do deer sleep in the woods?
Do they get scared at night?
Why did a turkey lose that feather?
Do turkeys have mommies and daddies?
What’s that noise?
Will that bird pick me up and take me away?
Why do you have a garden in the woods?
Why is it dead?
What’s that smell?
Why do animals poop in the woods instead of the potty?

Again, all in just the first few minutes. Now you understand why Cooper isn’t quite ready to hunt. But we’re holding out that the silence — necessary for hunting and our sanity — will come in the next few years, as will his desire to take part in the activity.

That’s the beauty of Families Afield. Ever heard of it? Basically, it’s an initiative began by the NWTF, National Shooting Sports Foundation and U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance that pushes for parents, not politics to decide an appropriate hunting age for their children.

The rate we’re going, Cooper will be about 47.

 

Promise I wasn’t lying

For everyone waiting to hear updates from Brenda Valentine on the Outdoor Legends Tour, apparently she’s having a heckuva time finding Internet service on her many stops. But we promise to get you up to speed on her adventures as soon as she’s able to share them with us.

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.

 

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.

 

You never know when winning will hit ya

Back in the spring, I held a giveaway with my new hunting buddy, champion turkey caller Mitchell Johnston. He makes a line of sweet-sounding turkey calls, designed to help hunters put a hurtin’ on gobblers. They are aptly named Dead End Game Calls.

You got to know Mitchell in earlier blog posts, even gleaned a few mouth call care tips from a guy that’s used the same ones for seven years. (Yeah, you read that right.)

Mitchell Johnston is the Santa Claus of turkey calls, giving away seven of his Dead End call creations to my nice blog followers.

In an earlier giveaway, Mitchell sent seven calls to for Keepin’ Up With Karen followers who were also good at following directions. He parted with seven of his handmade creations to the lucky few who were drawn.

Congrats to…

Ken Bailey
Kevin Beck
Brandon Oxford
Dave Quong
Ryen Sawyer
Genie Walker
Greg Wood

You don’t have to do a thing except wait for Mitchell to contact you. Then you have roughly 290 days until kick off for the spring season.

If you’re a fall turkey hunter, let us know if you do any good with your new Dead End Game Call this year. I love pictures…