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

Then. Now. Always. Forever. Never-ending.

That’s how long we want to keep the NWTF moving and grooving with our mission.

And how will we do that? Through the hard work of our rockin’ awesome volunteers, of course!

NWTF volunteers are super heroes when it comes to sheer passion for the mission. And Saturday night of the NWTF Convention is when we recognize the best of the best at our annual awards banquet (sponsored by MidwayUSA).

Money raised for the mission. Members recruited to the flock. Habitat conserved on behalf of wildlife. New people introduced to the fun of hunting and shooting. Those are the criteria for winning an NWTF award.

It’s awesome to see the humbleness of those recognized. Nearly all of them share credit with their committees, understanding it takes the effort of many to achieve success.

Which brings me to the another important part of Saturday night — the official roll out of the NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative.

In a nutshell, it’s a focused set of goals the NWTF believes we need to achieve to make a positive impact on wildlife habitat and our hunting heritage. It’s our super plan to face head-on certain challenges such as loss of critical habitat, decreased hunter access and attacks on our hunting heritage, to name a few.

Got five minutes? Watch this video to learn more about the initiative and discover why the Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is the answer to some of the challenges our country faces.

Now you’re feeling the need to get involved, aren’t you? Click here to learn more about how you can be part of the dynamic team of volunteers who believe it’s crucial for our country to Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.

AHHH…SUNDAY MORNING

I’m going to just come out and say it: I believe the Sunday morning breakfast and worship service (sponsored by Remington) is the most underrated and overlooked meal function at our convention.

Maybe some folks are still coming down from the excitement of a full weekend, so they choose to sleep in. Perhaps others have to get the heck out of Dodge to make it back home before the workweek begins.

I, however, believe it to be two of the most inspiring and important hours of the convention — and I’m pretty sure the couple hundred of our volunteers who attend the breakfast agree.

It’s fun and joyful: the comedy of Dennis Swanberg and singing by Terry Thompson made sure of that.

But it’s more than a feel-good morning. It also offers serenity and perspective. I believe that what we do “for the least of these” — whether it’s a child, a wild animal, a disabled veteran or just reaching out to anyone who may need a helping hand — we’re doing it in the name of God.

I like knowing I’m investing in the future of our country when I volunteer on behalf of the NWTF. But when it comes to doing for others, belonging to a greater cause, it’s the always … forever … never-ending love of my Savior that reassures me I’m on the right track.

The odd couple of turkey hunting

It’s the makings of good entertainment — with the likes of Sonny and Cher, Dharma and Greg — but how does it stack up in the turkey woods?

On the second day of my Oklahoma turkey hunt, after taking down a longbeard the day before, I was matched up to hunt with David Schluckebier of Remington. Dave is an engineer, serving as a manager for new product development on the ammunition side.

If you’ve kept up with me at all (or know me just because), well, I’m a certifiable goof wad. A creative type. With an imagination that sometimes makes for good writing, and a sense of humor you either get or you don’t.

Dave and I are total opposites. He rides bicycles with his wife; I cruise around the countryside on the back of my husband’s Harley. He’s methodical, and my mind tends to wander without warning. He has kids in college and roundabouts; mine won’t graduate high school until 2025 (Lord willing).

But Dave and I found our unlikely pairing works when turkey hunting. We began our gobbler chasing careers around the same time (roughly 12 years ago), and our skill sets seemed to compliment each other while hunting in Cheyenne this April.

We spent our first morning and early afternoon together team calling, only to bring in jakes and hens by the bucketful. (I’m pretty sure Dave could tell you exactly how many of each from each setup.)

Our afternoon hunt culminated in a gobbler traipsing by us, eyeing our decoys, then choosing to stick with the three or so ladies he had with him, never coming within 50 yards. That’s still a good hunt in my book.

Dave and I stuck together the final morning, not seeing anything broke about our turkey hunting team. We’d found a busy crossroads for turkeys and wanted to see if it would take us down a path to success.

Remington’s Dave Schluckebier and I may not walk similar paths in life, but when it comes to turkey hunt, we’re on the same track.

We set out across a shrubby shallow bowl to our hot spot on a wooded ridge. Or at least that was the plan. We walked until we hit a fence, a literal barbed wire fence, one we hadn’t noticed the day before.

Then I realized Dave and I had at least two things in common: 1. We were lost.
2. We had healthy doses of determination.

After about 15 more minutes of walking, Dave said he’d found our sacred setup spot. I had my doubts but also carried enough respect for Dave to go along without too much argument.

As the rising sun softly lit the sky, I could see we were nestled among the wind-weathered trees, just like the day before. However I still wasn’t convinced we were in the right place.

Wasn’t there more canopy in the forest yesterday?

I didn’t remember that brush to my left.

And I’m pretty sure we were a good 100 yards further away from the ridge’s edge than we were the day before.

But I remained silent, as I watched the fan attached to our strutting decoy wave around like a Southern belle who’s had one too many mint juleps.

I kept quiet, listening to the wind turbines looming over our setup. They seemed to have to work extra hard to cut through the dense, damp air.

I struggled to find a familiar landmark to shout: THIS IS THE AWESOME SPOT YOU WERE IN YESTERDAY!

No matter. If our hunt was to happen here, now was the time.

We kept our chorus of yelps, clucks and a few purrs going. And we called in the same army of jakes that seemed to not want to leave us alone.

After about an hour, we realized it wasn’t going to happen here. I peeled myself off the tree trunk with a slight tinge of smugness. I was right, this wasn’t THE place.

But just as I began to gloat internally, Dave pointed out the matted grass from where he’d sat the day before. Then he pointed out the fallen log where he’d staked the decoy not 15 hours ago.

And I learned a lesson.

Opposite personalities make for good TV and turkey hunting teams, especially when one of the pair knows when to keep her mouth shut.

The stuff of turkey hunting success

My first turkey hunt of the 2012 spring season is what’s known in the industry as a “media hunt.” It’s kind of poor grammar and slightly misleading, since it’s not as if a bunch of writers are let loose in the woods all Hunger Games-like, with the last one standing is the victor.

In reality, hunting product representatives take a group of us media types on hunt and let us use their stuff in the field in hopes we write about it in magazines, blogs, on websites and such. And, darn it, the formula works, because I’m about to tell you what gear helped me kill a turkey in Oklahoma.

Knight & Hale
www.knightandhale.com
If you’ve read at lest a handful of my posts, you know I’m a music buff. And that’s why it was love at first sight with this year’s line of Knight & Hale turkey calls. With names like Witchy Woman (The Eagles!), Bad Medicine (Bon Jovi!) and Metal Yell (sort of like Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”) I knew these calls had to rock.

Since I haven’t yet mastered the mouth call, the mint-flavored Bad Medicine series serves as not much more than a breath freshener for me. But the other two made their way to my turkey vest. I found the push-pull Witchy Woman easy to use and great for soft calling, but not much of a match for Oklahoma’s gusty afternoons. The Metal Yell, however, with its aluminum face, screamed out yelps and clucks that had the turkeys crying more…more…more…

Knight & Hale’s Witchy Woman and Metal Yell are music to a wild turkey’s ear holes.

Under Armour
www.underarmour.com/hunting
This one’s for all you women who can’t find camo that fits and is functional. I say dress like a dude (or at least give the men’s line from Under Armour a try). I was decked out in head to ankle UA — Evolution Heatgear Longsleeve T-shirt, Utility Field Pants and Hurlock Fleece Pullover — and the best compliment I could give it is that once I put it on I never thought about it again. I wore men’s smalls and didn’t even have to have the pants altered for length. For reference, I’m just shy of 5’2” and got a booty (if you know what I mean), and the fit was spot on, even with a base layer underneath. And I stayed out of sight in Realtree AP (www.realtree.com) — a great mix of browns and greens, perfect for a wet Oklahoma spring.

If the fit of the men’s line doesn’t suit your curves, Under Armour Senior Product Line Manager Mark Estrada says they are launching a women’s line of turkey hunting wear in 2013.

Remington
www.remington.com
Remington’s Versa Max was the gun of the week. Its claim to fame is that with its Versaport system it’s as close to a self-cleaning shotgun as you can get. Well, the beauty of a media hunt is that you shoot it for a week, then hand it back for someone else to deal with. The Versa Max’s shortest length of pull is 14.25 inches, about 2 inches too long for my Tyrannosaurs Rex arms, but it got the job done. Paired with Remington’s 3-inch Nitro Turkey load, it blasted the silhouette target on the range at 20 yards and took down an Oklahoma longbeard at just under 40.

Trijicon
www.trijicon.com
I’m all about stuff that makes me as accurate as possible. I feel I owe that to my quarry. Trijicon’s RMR series of sights goes beyond accuracy and could even be considered dummy proof. Simply aim the red dot at where you want to hit and pull the trigger. A lithium battery keeps it lit for 17,000 hours, so there’s no forgetting to turn it on or off. It’s the point-and-shoot of gun sites!

ATSKO
www.atsko.com
One product I didn’t use but wish I had: WATER-GUARD by ATSKO. It drizzled the last day of the hunt, and I ended my morning hunt with waterlogged boots. Have you ever replaced your boot inserts with soggy pancakes? Me neither, but I think I knew what it would feel like that day. Had I not been lazy and treated my boots before I left, my feel would’ve been dry, warm and not spit water as I walked. FYI, three days after the hunt, they’re still drying out in my garage, cursing my name.

So gear up and get out there, my hunting people! Here’s to the folks that make us look good, sound good, as well as stay warm and accurate while chasing turkeys. Cheers!