As a son of the rural south, I have always look forward to spring and all it affords those who love to get into the outdoors to enjoy what the Good Lord has provided.
For me, that always meant that I'm spooling new line on my reels, getting them cleaned and lubricated, checking my tackle boxes taking inventory of what lures need new hooks and skirts and what needs to be replaced. Springtime means that bass, crappie and bream are headed for the shallows to spawn and wild horses couldn't keep me away.
At least, that's what the springtime outdoors meant to me until 1992 when against my better judgment, I gave in to the gentle arm twisting of a fellow outdoor writer to give spring turkey hunting a try.
As it turned out, that trip over to Alabama for my initial foray into spring turkey hunting was a life-changing experience.
Admittedly, it didn't feel natural to be sitting in the woods clad head to toe in camouflage cradling my shotgun with purple martins twittering far above the flowering dogwoods. Sitting in my boat on a lake casting into pollen-flecked water would have felt much more normal.
Something happened on that April morning under the dogwoods in rural Alabama, though, that changed all that. My guide called in a mature long beard that came in gobbling, strutting, spitting and drumming, I squeezed the trigger and I was immediately and forever hooked. Each spring since, bedded bass and bluegills have taken a back seat to wild turkeys and I've traveled the country from Florida to South Dakota; Texas to Connecticut chasing these amazing birds.
Hunting wild turkeys is one of my passions; making sure we continue to have them in our part of the country is another. That's why it took very little persuasion for me to sign on as a committee member of my local National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) chapter, the North-Central Louisiana bunch of good old guys and gals.
Being a turkey hunter but refusing to support efforts on their behalf is something like somebody handing you the keys to new pick-up truck but you're not willing to buy the gas to make it go. The truck won't run without fuel; wild turkeys won't prosper without the help of folks willing to support with their dollars projects necessary to make sure they do.
This is why becoming a member of your local chapter of the NWTF is vitally important. How do you do that? It's easy; make plans to attend an annual fund-raising banquet and you're on board.
Our North-Central Louisiana chapter banquet is on the calendar and it's only a few days away. Friday, February 22 is the date of the event. For the past several years, the annual banquet has been held at the Ruston Civic Center but because of schedule conflicts, a change of venue was necessary this year. Lincoln Hall, located just north of Ruston on Highway 33 next to the Expo Center, will be hosting this year's banquet.
If you've never attended a banquet, you're in for a treat. In recent years, the name of these annual fund-raising banquets has been changed to add something vitally necessary to protect and defend the tradition of hunting. These meetings are now called Hunting Heritage banquets with the added goal of helping us protect our Second Amendment rights.
At this year's banquet, you'll enjoy a delicious meal prepared by Ruston's own Bill Cox, you'll get to talk turkey with your buddies and have the opportunity to head home with a valuable prize or two.
Best of all, you'll feel good knowing you did your part to assure the future for wild turkeys.
Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.