NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Rod Smith, of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, was awarded the NWTF Henry S. Mosby Award for his dedicated, 43-year contribution to turkey restoration efforts across Oklahoma.
The NWTF named the award for Henry S. Mosby, Ph.D., whose research during the mid-1900s set the standard for wild turkey management. Mosby also helped found The Wildlife Society and won its highest honor, the Aldo Leopold Medal.
Smith was recognized with the Henry S. Mosby Award during the 46th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show, sponsored by Mossy Oak.
Smith is currently a regional wildlife supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. He began his career with the ODWC in 1978 and has spent all 43 years in the field managing wildlife to improve and enhance the natural resources in Oklahoma.
The Rio Grande restoration program in Oklahoma started as a state project in 1949 and ran to the mid 1990s. Smith got involved in this project after being hired as a biologist and was highly involved in the project for 17 years during 1978-1995. In total, approximately 10,000 Rio Grande turkeys were captured and translocated within Oklahoma.
From 1996-2021, Smith has been monitoring the Rio Grande turkey population in the central and western portions of Oklahoma. The Rio Grande turkey population peaked in 2006 with an estimate of over 119,000 birds in the state. Currently all 77 counties in Oklahoma have a huntable population of wild turkeys.
Over his celebrated 43-year career, Smith has seen the days when certain counties did not have turkeys, when counties received their first turkeys and when counties and public land were opened to turkey hunting for the first time. The turkey restoration project is one of the most successful wildlife projects in Oklahoma’s history, and Smith’s involvement, his attention to detail, his work ethic, his knowledge and his commitment has been key to the management success of the wild turkey in Oklahoma.
Moreover, Smith has been a part of NWTF’s Wild Turkey Technical Committee for over 25 years. He has worked with NWTF biologists and staff to help administer the Oklahoma NWTF State Chapter Hunting Heritage Super Fund, guiding prioritization of habitat restoration projects on an annual basis.
“Rod’s contributions to conservation are felt all over Oklahoma and beyond,” NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said. “We are thankful for his dedication to serving the great state of Oklahoma and NWTF’s Technical Committee, and we are proud to present him with the prestigious Henry S. Mosby Award.”
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters' rights. Today, the NWTF is focused on the future of hunting and conservation through its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative. Since 2012, this 10-year initiative has already eclipsed goals of conserving or enhancing more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruiting or retaining more than 1.5 million hunters and opening access to more than 500,000 acres for hunting and other recreation opportunities. This critical work will continue to impact wildlife habitat and our great outdoors in the final year of the initiative.