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…

SATURDAY MORNING

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.

 

 

 

 

 

2013 NWTF Convention: In case you missed it

I can’t believe it’s been a week since the NWTF Convention and Sport Show in Nashville. That entire weekend zipped by, but this week back in the office seemed to go by even faster.

With all the yelps, clucks and howdy-do hugs going around, it’s hard to imagine anybody wasn’t at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. And if you’re into Facebook or Twitter trolling, I bet you felt like you were there, with all the posts and tweets flying around.

The theme of the NWTF Convention this year was Then. Now. Always. The weekend was like a time warp of conservation success.

The theme of the NWTF Convention this year was Then. Now. Always. The weekend was like a time warp of conservation success.

In case you weren’t at the biggest turkey celebration on Earth (or even if you were there, but couldn’t be two places at once), I’m going to fill you in on what I know.

But don’t feel like you’re out of the loop, I’m just learning most of it myself — including details like we had a record-breaking convention attendance, more folks joining the NWTF onsite and more turkey people roosting at the Gaylord Hotel than ever before. It was HUGE! At least that’s what I hear…

This was my view for most of the convention — screens, screens and more screens. But screens can be a source of excitement, when you're doing a live show.

This was my view for most of the convention — screens, screens and more screens. But screens can be exciting when you’re doing a live show.

You see, my perch for the entire convention was on a small riser in the back of the Delta Ballroom. I barely left that cavernous space other than to sleep, so my snapshot of the NWTF convention was what happened on stage during the breakfast and dinner shows. Those held enough action in themselves; not sure I could’ve handled much more excitement.

We had country music stars, Army generals, hunting industry executives and a trumpet player grace the boards of the stage — and that was in less than 24 hours!

Sounds like a circus, doesn’t it. In many ways it was. But that’s my job at convention, to manage the circus.

I worked with a fabulous production team (called PRG) to choreograph a parade of speakers and entertainers, as well as breathe life into hundreds of graphics, PowerPoint slides and videos to create six separate celebrations, each a part of the NWTF mission.

Check back for the skinny on what happened in the Delta.