NWTF: Do you remember what made you want to join the NWTF?
Ross Leazenby: In about 1993 or 1994 a couple friends of mine started an NWTF chapter in Owensboro, Kentucky. Though I had been turkey hunting before, I figured I could learn a great deal about hunting turkey by joining the chapter. Being a local business owner, I also was able to help sponsor the chapter.
NWTF: Are you familiar with the NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative? If yes, what are your thoughts?
RL:I am familiar with Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. and think it is great. For quite some time I have thought that habitat protection and restoration is important to many species. I own a 300 acre farm and have instilled wildlife management on the property. My plan is the property will stay that way forever, even long after I am gone. It is filled with food plots of chufa, corn and beans that help turkey and deer populations.
NWTF:How long have you been attending the NWTF Convention and Sport Show?
RL:The first convention I attended was in 1994 or 1995 and I believe it was in Nashville. Since then I have attended 18 or so conventions in places like Charlotte, Indianapolis and Atlanta. I have enjoyed all of them but I prefer Nashville. It is a town with a country feel, just larger.
NWTF:Wow, nearly 20 conventions. What makes you want to return each year?
RL:First of all, I enjoy seeing all the new products that vendors have at the show. There are approximately 700 vendors and you can see all kinds of sports-related equipment and get information for hunting trips all around the world. Some of the companies at the show are making such realistic looking decoys that I have to remind the new hunters that I take into the field to not fall asleep and shoot my decoy when they wake up.
I am also a very outgoing person and I really have enjoyed meeting new people. I have become friends with some of the call makers, like the guys from Quaker Boys. I have stayed in touch with some of them long after the convention is over.
I always visit the calling competitions. Hearing the great sounds and rhythm of the calling gets me revved up for turkey season that follows shortly after convention.
NWTF:What advice would you give to a convention first-timer?
RL:There are many vendors and I would encourage first-timers to take a bag and collect as much information, videos and equipment as they can about the things that are of interest to them. Ask call makers to show you their products, ask questions and listen to what they have to say. Any hunter can learn an awful lot about the sport. I also get to the sport show early so I can beat the crowds.
NWTF:Do you have any memorable moments from past conventions?
RL:Something that is quite memorable to me is the amount of convention time that is set aside for God and country. The convention opens to a flag ceremony and a prayer. It continues with prayers during meals and a breakfast to honor veterans. It is quite meaningful to see this focus on God and country from the individuals who emcee or put the convention together.
NWTF:Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to from this coming year's convention?
RL:I have enjoyed seeing industry professionals emcee past conventions and I look forward to that again. The NWTF has stepped back from the microphone allowing us to hear from, see and meet these individuals. I think it is a great thing they have done.
NWTF:Do you plan on registering for this coming convention?
RL:I think registration normally opens up just after Labor Day but I plan on being one of the first to do so.