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Annual Wheelin’ Sportsmen Ultimate Turkey Hunt Embraces Accessible Adventure

Over the weekend of April 21 and 22, the National Wild Turkey Federation hosted the 18th annual Wheelin’ Sportsmen Ultimate Turkey Hunt at the Savannah River Site. The hunt is a collaborative effort between the NWTF, Department of Energy and USDA Forest Service. The Aiken NWTF Chapter and the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory provided meals and facilities for the event.

Hannah McKinney May 26, 20232 min read

The annual hunt held at the Savannah River Site holds a significant purpose by providing a unique turkey hunting opportunity specifically tailored for disabled sportsmen. The NWTF received applications from across Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and New York, with 15 hunters randomly selected to participate.

"The NWTF is proud to partner with the Forest Service and the Savannah River Site to offer members of the Wheelin’ Sportsmen program an opportunity to join fellow hunters for a memorable day of encouragement, hunting and fellowship surrounding the wild turkey,” said Teresa Carroll, NWTF Education and Outreach Program coordinator. “The hunt escorts and other volunteers set aside their time to make this hunt a safe and successful hunt for all involved, and we could not do it without them."

Participating hunters were paired with SRS employees who served as guides to ensure a safe and successful hunt. In total, 19 birds were harvested over the course of two days.

Steven Serkiz served as a guide for the annual hunt for the past 11 years; however, this year presented him with an opportunity to take part in the event as a hunter. Through his experience as both a guide and a participant, Serkiz attained a unique perspective, recognizing that the event held significance far beyond hunting.

“The hunting was good, but the companionship was even better,” Serkiz said.

In addition, Serkiz shared that the event provided a unique opportunity for friends to reconnect, fostering shared experiences and camaraderie among both the participants and the guides.

The hunt offers hunters a truly exceptional experience, allowing hunters to hunt property that receives no hunting pressure. The Savanah River Site, spanning 310 square miles (198,046 acres), is a Department of Energy site nestled in the Sandhills region of South Carolina. This vast area provides a remarkable backdrop for the hunt, where participants can immerse themselves in the natural beauty and abundant wildlife that flourishes within its boundaries.

During the event, wildlife biologists from the Forest Service, employees from Savannah River Nuclear Solutions and graduate students from the University of Georgia were present to measure and record various data on the harvested turkeys, including weight, beard and spur length. This information, when combined with data from past wildlife surveys and hunt results, will be used to guide future species management practices on the site.

Graduate researchers from the University of Georgia collect data for turkey research on the Savannah River Site.
Graduate researchers from the University of Georgia collect data for turkey research on the Savannah River Site.

To learn more about opportunities provided by Wheelin’ Sportsmen, visit the NWTF’s website here.

About the National Wild Turkey Federation

Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale. 

2023 is the NWTF's 50th Anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization's mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50th Anniversary, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and NWTF's people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future. Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.

Filed Under:
  • Healthy Habitats
  • Healthy Harvests
  • Hunting Heritage