Nova Scotia Man Receives NWTF Conservation Award
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Terry Smith has never seen a wild turkey within three or four hours of his homeland. And he admits it’s possible he never will.
But that hasn’t stopped the Bedford, Nova Scotia, native from hunting wild turkey and doing all he can to bring Eastern Wild Turkey across the border from Maine.
“It’s a challenge,” admitted Smith, who often drives at least seven hours to Maine to hunt wild turkey. “It’s great for me to be able to take first-time turkey hunters to Connecticut or Maine and show them how to do it. Then it’s great watching their smile when they harvest their first turkey.”
For his efforts in building a strong NWTF and wild turkey hunting presence in a province that bans the introduction of the species, Smith received the NWTF’s Roger M. Latham Sportsman Wild Turkey Service Award Feb. 16 at the annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show.
The prestigious Latham Award is given for commitment to the NWTF mission of the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage.
“Terry Smith’s dedication to the NWTF is amazing considering the effort he must make to go turkey hunting,” said James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D., the NWTF’s chief conservation officer. “His determination he has shown to introduce wild turkeys to the Canadian Maritime provinces is inspirational.”
Smith, who became an avid turkey hunter early in life on trips to Connecticut, is not only determined to bring wild turkeys into Nova Scotia, but have hunters ready to harvest them.
He’s heavily involved in habitat conservation, JAKES events and hunter education in Nova Scotia. In March, he’s bringing seven youth and their families from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to an International JAKES Day in Maine.
“We can’t wait for the turkeys to come to us,” said Smith. “We’re bringing kids to the turkeys. We’re tired of waiting.”
Despite the lack of wild turkeys in Nova Scotia, Smith’s NWTF Bluenose Longbeards Chapter has 125 members. There are also two other NWTF chapters in the province.
Smith’s attempt to have Eastern Wild Turkeys releases in Nova Scotia was turned down in 2002 with the provincial government citing agricultural reasons. But wild turkeys have since crossed into neighboring New Brunswick from Maine.
On one of his three fishing and hunting properties, Smith has 14 acres of food plots. He’s also planted 400 apple trees and 65 mature apple trees for wildlife on his 368-acre piece of property, one of the first properties in Eastern Canada to become eligible for NWTF Wild Turkey Woodlands recognition.
“He has tirelessly promoted the introduction of wild turkeys into Nova Scotia, but more importantly, focused on habitat improvement and getting kids involved in our mission,” said former NWTF regional director Brian Smith.
Since he was introduced to wild turkey hunting 14 years ago by former Latham Award winners Rob Cotiaux and Jim Wescott, Smith has taken dozens of Canadians on their first turkey hunting trips.
“The matches he ignites has fanned the NWTF flames in Nova Scotia,” said Cotiaux, the NWTF Maine State Chapter president.
“If you speak to Terry about the outdoors, the conversation will quickly turn toward the NWTF, turkeys and introducing turkeys to our fine province,” said NWTF Nova Scotia State Chapter president Gary Marlborough.
Smith said he expects New Brunswick to allow the transfer of wild turkey soon. He hopes Nova Scotia will follow soon after.
“It’s an uphill battle with the government, but we’ll keep fighting it,” Smith said. “There’s turkey talk every day in Nova Scotia.”
The NWTF, a nonprofit organization, is the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation. Through dynamic partnerships with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members have helped restore 17.3 million acres of wildlife habitat, investing $412 million.
Since the NWTF’s founding in 1973, the North American wild turkey population has increased from 1.3 million to 6.5 million with wild turkey inhabiting 99 percent of suitable habitat.