Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

Fund raising banquets vital to wild turkeys

Sitting in my pop-up hunting blind on a cool April morning last year, I had a good view of four narrow food plots. Figuratively speaking, I was sitting in the hub of a four-spoke wagon wheel giving me the advantage over any gobbler that elected to waltz in to see what the yelping and clucking from my calls was all about.

I had not heard a single gobble that morning and was just before deciding to call it a day when I spied a black lump 200 yards down the north lane. My binoculars confirmed I was looking at a wild turkey gobbler my calling had attracted.

Cutting to the chase, I didn't get that gobbler; he couldn't see my hen decoy, had only a casual interest in my calling, so he ambled off into the woods and was gone.

The fact that I was able to hear and work gobblers several times last season on my Jackson Parish hunting club is a tribute to the work of an organization, the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), that is focused on attracting and maintaining populations of wild turkeys to suitable habitat, not only in Louisiana but across the nation. In addition, the organization works on getting more people into hunting; women, children and the disabled in particular.

The NWTF was founded in 1973 with headquarters in Edgefield, SC and today has local chapters in every state as well as in Canada. Since it's beginning, the NWTF boasts of being the driving force behind bringing back the wild turkey and has been given the credit for what is called the "greatest conservation success story in North America."

Because of the work of the NWTF, outdoorsmen and women now have a choice as to what to do on spring mornings. Two decades ago, my focus in March and April was the shallows of area lakes where big bass and beds of chinquapins were daring me to offer a lure.

I had no interest in wild turkeys; the early efforts of restoration in Louisiana were just beginning and my focus was on goggle-eyes; not gobblers.

That all changed for me in 1992 when I reluctantly left the spawning beds on the lake to accept an invitation to hunt wild turkeys in Alabama. That trip changed my hunting life forever when a strutting longbeard came gobbling, spitting and drumming in front of my shotgun. I was hooked immediately.

Today, I am seriously involved with wild turkeys. I have traveled all across the nation to hunt them from Alabama to Connecticut to South Carolina to Florida to Texas to South Dakota. Twenty years after the conquest of that Alabama gobbler, I'm still as excited as a kid at Christmas at the prospects of the 2012 spring season looming just a few short weeks away.

I am also involved in trying to do my part in making sure that our area continues to have viable populations of turkeys. One of the most important things to me is my membership in the NWTF and my support of the annual fund raising banquet.

There are 45 such banquets slated for this year with my attention directed to the one slated for my local chapter, the North Central Louisiana chapter headquartered in Ruston. Our banquet will be held this Tuesday, February 28, at the Ruston Civic Center.

If you have any interest whatsoever in the conservation of these majestic birds, stop what you're doing, pick up the phone and call Luke Lewis at 318-423-7777 to find out where you can get your ticket.

If you can't make this event, the Claiborne Spurs will have their banquet in Haynesville on March 3; the LaSalle Longbeards on March 16 in Trout; Winn Parish Longbeards in Winnfield on March 17 and the Northwest Louisiana Chapter in Shreveport on March 22.

Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.






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