As the clock ticked down on my final minutes in Missouri this spring, I was about to eat a wild turkey tag after three straight days of turkey hunting. I’d heard more than 50 gobbles during those days afield but only caught a fleeting glimpse of a bird through the trees. Property fence lines and henned-up gobblers had led to an undisturbed tag.
I stared off into an empty field during those final moments before 1 p.m. when turkey hunting shuts down in Missouri each day. After months of constantly being busy – family life, work and personal commitments – and always looking ahead to the next responsibility, I felt a sense of living in the moment for the first time in almost a year. I’d felt the highs of an early morning gobble on the limb and the lows of hearing those gobbles head in the other direction, only to call them back before entering a final stalemate that I would lose. It was a roller coaster of heart thumping and letdown, and I had experienced everything but the trigger pull. That was good enough for me.
Many newcomers to the outdoors the last two springs felt the same for the first time. It’s something they’ll want to come back to annually, and as the leading voice in wild turkey conservation and preserving our hunting heritage, the NWTF must be there to meet them when they return. For the majority of our members reading this, you are well versed in the experience. It’s what draws us back year after year. For the newly initiated or those interested in experiencing more of this outdoors lifestyle, it’s our job to welcome them in with a message that conveys the NWTF’s conservation mission and explains how hunting plays a role in the big picture.
For that reason, the NWTF has undertaken a massive rebranding effort to appeal to turkey hunters new and old. It should be easily recognizable, beginning with this issue and a shift from Turkey Country to Turkey Call on the magazine masthead, along with an improved look and feel to the publication – from the quality of the paper to the design of each page. For more than three decades, Turkey Call graced the front of the NWTF’s official publication, and we felt it was the right time to bring it back with a facelift that fits the future direction of the NWTF.
These are all significant changes, but the content within the magazine continues to focus on what’s important to conservationists and turkey hunters – habitat management and conservation work, topics related to wild turkey research and education, hunting, food and the pursuit of the great outdoors. You’ll notice a new tag line, “Healthy Habitats. Healthy Harvests.,” that illustrates the importance of each element to our two main loves: conservation and hunting. Those two are entwined and cannot exist without the other.
A new NWTF brand and the way we communicate our message was needed to secure a strong future for the NWTF to continue to positively affect wild turkey conservation and our hunting heritage as it has for nearly 50 years. For more on the NWTF’s brand evolution, read Dave Mahlke’s article on page 20 that explains the need to increase our reach and alter the way we discuss conservation and hunting.
All of these alterations point to the big picture: we must bring more outdoorsmen and women into the NWTF family and help them understand the connection between our conservation work and how it improves wildlife habitat for wild turkeys and many other species, as well as impacting the world around us.