Title: Las Huellas NWTF Chapter President
Born and Raised In: Cameron County, Texas
NWTF: How long have you been turkey hunting, and how did you get started in it?
EW: My first turkey hunt was 14 years ago. It was with another of our chapter board members, Robert Cackley, whom I've known since we were kids. Like most beginning turkey hunters, I was instantly hooked!
NWTF: Tell us a little about your involvement with the Las Huellas Chapter.
EW: Our chapter was started in 2006, and Las Huellas means "The Tracks" in Spanish. We named it this because of the positive impact we wanted our chapter to have on the support and promotion of outdoor interests in our area.
I was introduced to the NWTF by Ed Marshall, a Missouri native and a bona fide turkey hunter. Ed was the driving force behind us deciding to form this chapter. We live in one of the only counties in Texas that does not have a population of wild turkeys, so his vision was to partner with the NWTF and, over time, re-populate our county with the Rio Grande Turkey, which was once native to our area. So far, we have successfully released a healthy flock of 19 birds.
Basically, we founded a chapter in an area with no turkeys, turkey hunters, or any knowledge of the NWTF.
NWTF: That sounds like a challenge; how's it going so far?
EW: Great; this year we had more than 450 people at our event! With everyone's help and support, we were able to become the largest event in Texas, grossing and netting more banquet funds than any other chapter in Texas. I'm proud to say that we are listed among the top five chapters in the nation— while in a county with no turkey population! This is just the beginning. We wanted to enrich our wildlife population for the benefit of hunters, birders and general wildlife enthusiasts.
There are many people to thank, but I especially want to recognize Sam Manatt, Brad Wolfe, Rob Cackley, Ed Marshall, Edward Mathers, Lou Powell and Joe Touchet.
NWTF: What are some of the things that your chapter is doing for wildlife conservation and to protect our hunting heritage?
EW: Our priority project is the release of more turkeys in our area. This will continue until we have established a sizeable population across Cameron County.
We have both a WITO and JAKES event scheduled for this year as well. Involving all members of the family and all ages is very important to our mission. Being in an area without turkeys (yet!), our main focus is to broaden our message from wild turkeys to protecting and fostering interest in hunting heritage and outdoor activities in general.
We are very satisfied with our size and banquet performance. Our main focus is to make sure our community feels a sense of quid pro quo and that monies generated can be seen in our area. Without this, local support will definitely be affected.
NWTF: Emmett, what tips can you give on how to recruit great volunteers and host great chapter events?
EW: I believe that a great event happens as a result of two things:
1) focusing on an organized plan, and
2) remembering to have fun!
Some other things I think have helped us are that we focus on trying to make our events unique from other similar organization banquets in the area by using unique venues, a variety of new and fun activities and offering a memorable meal.
I think the one thing that keeps people from volunteering with any organization is not knowing how to help. When a chapter has no set agenda or events scheduled for the year, even the most willing volunteer will not step up. Have events scheduled, make them known, make them fun and people will want to participate.
Volunteers are great because they believe in the mission and have the dedication to donate themselves to the chapter's needs. Our chapter's success has been established by the group of people that came together. Every person that has helped shape our chapter are outstanding leaders. They are known in the community as having the highest integrity and are respected for their generous character. Some have played small roles, others greater, but they're ALL equally important.
I'm truly honored to represent the Las Huellas chapter as President this year.
NWTF: What are people missing out on by not joining the NWTF? Why should they join?
EW: It's simple: I became an NWTF member because I wanted to help foster our hunting heritage and promote the future of outdoor enthusiasts.