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The 39th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show

Check back later for more information on the 40th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show

Jana Waller, NWTF life member and host of Skull Bound TV, takes a picture with some youth attending the 39th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show.
(photo credit - Jana Waller Jim Kinsey)

More than 48,600 hunters and conservationists gathered at Nashville, Tennessee's Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center for the 39th annual National Wild Turkey Federation Convention and Sport Show, sponsored by RAM, February 12-15.

"It is great to see our members and volunteers show up in such large numbers to support hunting and conservation," said George Thornton, NWTF CEO. "Each person who attended left more educated about our Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative and programs, which are continuing to make headway into some of the biggest problems facing hunters and wildlife today."

According to, the NWTF Convention and Sport Show has been the top attended convention or tradeshow in Nashville since 2011.

Thornton shared the progress of the groundbreaking NWTF Hunting Heritage Center and Palmetto Shooting Complex. He announced the organization already has received commitments of more than $11 million of the $20 million budget for the project. The total includes the recent largest cash donation ever made to the NWTF.

Thornton also spoke about the NWTF's America's Big 6 of Wildlife Conservation and the 4,700-acre Big Escambia Creek located in southern Alabama. The newly-acquired property, located in an area of critical habitat needs, is the largest land donation made to the organization and will be used to carry out Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative programs.

The 2015 convention drew more than 450 exhibitors selling outdoor gear, hunting experiences and more. There were celebrity autograph sessions, seminars by hunting pros and raffles and auctions with the latest hunting gear and one-of-a-kind turkey calls for grabs.

The event also featured an expanded Family Adventure Village, which gave kids the chance to explore hands-on conservation education and a variety of outdoor skills, as well as earn a special collectible patch, all free to the public.

Convention-goers enjoyed performances from a dueling pianos act and Rodney Atkins, as well as a variety of music guests at the Wild Turkey Bourbon Waterin' Hole.

The Grand National Calling Championships, sponsored by Lynch Calls, offered a newly reformatted Senior Division finals competition, which drew the largest crowds of any calling division. Billy Yargus, of Missouri, made the best impression on the live judging panel and took top honors.

Under the previous format, judges didn't provide feedback or know the identity of a caller until the contest was complete, leaving callers wondering what could have been improved upon.

"Everyone who filled the seats or lined the walls of the auditorium could learn from the judges' critiques," said NWTF Special Events Coordinator Chris Piltz. "If even one person in attendance hits the turkey woods with new vigor for hunting and conservation, we are doing our job to save the habitat and the hunt."