2013 NWTF Convention: In case you missed it (Now…)

Then. Now. Always.

It wasn’t only the theme of this year’s convention; it’s how we view the viability of the NWTF.

We have a strong past, which has proven our organization has what it takes to facilitate success, as evident in the comeback of the wild turkey.

We have a promising future with the Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt initiative.

And now is the time to make sure both have a place in history.

It’s what we do now as an organization that pays tribute to the path paved by those before us. Now is when we lay the bricks for the road ahead of us.

Totally cool to have my photo made with "Gene Simmons." Not creepy at all that I'm old enough to be this impersonator's mom...

Totally cool to have my photo made with “Gene Simmons.” Not creepy at all that I’m old enough to be this impersonator’s mom…

Those bricks aren’t made with good intentions. There’s got to be money in the mix. Money to fund our mission today and tomorrow.

That’s why the Grand National Auction is so important. Just like the thousands of auctions, raffles and fundraisers NWTF volunteers hold throughout the country each year, the Grand National — “the big daddy of ‘em all” — helps foot the bill to carry out our mission and programs. It puts money where are hearts are.

Hunts, a Chevy truck, a triple-barrel shotgun and even an entertainment center from Elvis Presley’s bedroom were up for bid. And the backdrop for the evening was celebrating 40 rockin’ years of the NWTF, complete with celebrity impersonators walking around the room.

For me, the highlight was having my photo taken with “Gene Simmons” of KISS, then using “Madonna” to help sell raffle tickets for a Kentucky elk hunt. Tell me that’s not funny…


When is the best time to tell a veteran thank you for his or her service? Now … and anytime you see one.

Their sacrifices helped pave the path that allows us to enjoy hunting, because we live in a country protected by the finest military in the world.

We began the Winchester Veteran’s Breakfast with a photo diary/video of the Outdoor Legends Tours, where members of the hunting community traveled overseas to personally thank active duty military. Many of you may have read accounts from the tour’s frontlines from NWTF CEO George Thornton and NWTF Spokesperson Brenda Valentine on this blog. If you missed it, click on their names for a link to each of their adventures and get caught up. Both offer glimpses into the everyday life of our servicemen and women.

It’s a given that I cry during this breakfast every year. And I shed a few tears listening to NWTF District Field Supervisor Dave Mahlke talk about his son’s enlistment in the Army, how he was injured in the line of duty and made an incredible recovery, as well as how hunting and family played a role in it.

As parent, I can’t fathom watching my son go through so much pain. Dang it, I’m crying just thinking about it. God bless the Mahlke family and all military families.

And if I wasn’t already a hot mess, the super-duper talented brass player Mic Gillette played the haunting notes of “Taps,” as we remembered the fallen, including Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.

The annual breakfast is always so moving to me, not by just watching what’s happening on stage, but thinking about the individual stories of the folks in the crowd.

I looked up from my production book to see a fella, probably not five years younger than me, walk with a slight limp to receive his commemorative veterans pin (an annual tradition at the breakfast). What was going through his head at that moment? Pride? Heartache? Both?

I can’t begin to understand. All I can do is offer my sincere gratitude and respect.

Thank you to Winchester and the NWTF for giving me a venue to do just that.






Friday night at the NWTF Convention rocks

If you ask me, music sets a mood. It can make you dance, sing along or play air drums like a fool.

But can music inspire folks to spend money?

I don’t know if anyone even pays attention to the music that plays over the room speakers during the breakfast and dinner functions at our convention, but I spend an (probably unnecessary) amount of time picking a playlist for each one.

But I love to do it. Suppressed DJ, remember?

I have a reason for choosing most of the songs played at each dinner. My reasons might not make sense to you, or you may need to listen to the actual song to track with me, but they’re reasons nonetheless.

The theme for Thursday night’s Welcome Party was Champions of Music City, so I had to play country. That’s a no-brainer. But I’m a rocker chick by nature, so I decided Friday night would be a night for rock stars.

Here’s what we rocked out to and why:


One Way Or Another by Blondie

Got My Mind Set On You by George Harrison

U Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer

Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’ by Hanson

Stayin’ Alive by Bee Gees

Totally sporting the pop diva look with this headset that keeps me connected to the production crew. Guess how many people yelled “Hey, Britney!” (or “Hey, Janet!” if they’re my age or older) when I walk through the ballroom? More than you’d think. And it’s Ms. Lee, if ya nasty…


Let It Ride by Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Keep Your Hands To Yourself by Georgia Satellites

Hold On Loosely by .38 Special

I’ve Got You by Split Enz


Nine Lives by Def Leppard

Nothin’ to Lose by Josh Gracin

Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran

Queen of Hearts by Juice Newton


Game of Love by Wayne Fontana

Photograph by Def Leppard


Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran

Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benetar

Wild At Heart by Gloriana

Wild Wild Life by Talking Heads


Red Red Wine by UB40

Love Shack by The B-52s

After Midnight by Eric Clapton

Nothin’ But A Good Time by Poison

Crazy Crazy Nights by KISS


Redneck Girl by Blake Shelton

Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band


Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams

Old Time Rock & Roll by Bob Seger

Lay Down Sally by Eric Clapton

Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen

Magic by The Cars

Walk Of Life by Dire Straits

Be Good To Yourself by Journey

No Matter What by Def Leppard

Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi


NWTF volunteers are total rock stars in my book.

No matter if you donate a Chevy truck to the Grand National Auction or simply your time to an outreach event, you buy that Chevy truck or a $10 raffle ticket, you’re a champion of conservation.

So press your right thumb against your middle and ring fingers, extend your pointer and pinky fingers in the air, then thrust your hand upward and say, “I rock!”

‘Cause you do…