Lakecaster Online

The NWTF is about more than just turkeys
By Patty Lenderman

Turkey hunting is a sport quickly gaining favor among hunters as the population of these game birds grows. Turkey hunting is rich in tradition that was begun long before settlers ever arrived in America. Native Americans hunted the wild turkey for food as far back as 4,000 years ago. Surprisingly, this magnificent bird was almost wiped out by the early 1900s following a century of habitat destruction and commercial slaughter. By the Great Depression, only 30,000 wild turkeys remained in the entire country. Today, thanks to our nation's hunters, wildlife agencies and wildlife conservation organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation, there are more than 5.6 million wild turkeys roaming the continent. There are huntable populations in every state of the U.S. except Alaska and turkeys are even hunted in Ontario, Canada, and Mexico. With close to 2.6 million sportsmen and women considering themselves wild turkey hunters, turkey hunting is one of the most popular types of hunting in the U.S.

Wild turkeys are native to North America and there are five subspecies: Eastern, Osceola (Florida), Rio Grande, Merriam's and Gould's. All five range throughout different parts of the continent. The Rio Grande are the turkeys found in our area and ranges through Texas and up into Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. Rios are also found in parts of the northwestern states.
On July 26, 2003 the NWTF held a banquet and fund raiser at the Jasper VFW. Fifty six percent of the funds raised at this event and at all Texas NWTF banquets is returned to the Texas Super Fund, earmarked for turkey management efforts only in Texas. There were several unique art, jewelry and craft items in the silent auction and the live auction. There were guns, scuba equipment and art items in the raffle packages. Dinner was provided by Jasper's JR's Ranch House. The money raised at these events is so important to help with restocking, women and childrens programs as well as handicapped persons programs. Wild Turkey Super Fund money is spent on habitat and management projects that benefit wild turkeys and other wildlife and on projects that educate people about wildlife conservation, hunter safety and our hunting heritage. Projects generally fall into the following general categories: conservation, education of women and youth, purchase of management equipment, habitat enhancement, support of hunting heritage, hunter safety, land acquisition, wild turkey research, wild turkey restoration, wild turkey management and reward programs.

The NWTF has subchapter programs, one of which is the Women in the Outdoors program. Here, women of all ages learn new skills, meet people with similar interests and kick back in the great outdoors. Today millions of women across the country are discovering that camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, shooting, canoeing, boating and bird watching are fun and relaxing. The number of women involved in these outdoor activities is growing. The NWTF's state and local chapters offer one-day events that are low cost, can fit into a busy schedule and are hosted at some of the most beautiful outdoor education sites in the country.

Keeping the North American hunting tradition alive, the National Wild Turkey Federation has a fun way to get our youth excited about the outdoor sports and conservation with the JAKES program. JAKES stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship, not to mention a lot of fun. In JAKES, children ages 17 and younger learn the basic outdoor skills necessary to become successful stewards of our natural resources. They also learn to be responsible outdoorsmen and women through fishing, camping and hunting seminars taught by legends in the field. They learn to identify plants and animals, as well as how to effectively call in those elusive toms. The NWTF has a great opportunity to teach children the value of our natural resources and the importance of conservation. These children will grow up knowing hunting plays a key role in wildlife management, and the dollars they spend to hunt go right back into state and federal conservation efforts. These events are an important aspect of the NWTF's outreach programs. But, most importantly, they provide an opportunity to help build tight family bonds and memories that will last a lifetime.

With the same dedication it has brought to restoring wild turkey populations across North America, the NWTF is delivering, and in some cases re-introducing, the beauty and excitement of the outdoors to thousands of disabled people through its outreach program, Wheelin' Sportsmen. The program was created by a merger between the Alabama-based Wheelin' Sportsmen of America and the NWTF. Wheelin' Sportsmen is the realization of both organizations' commitment to creating a national effort to provide the disabled with opportunities to get out and enjoy outdoor activities, such as hunting, fishing, bird watching and much more. Today, disabled women, kids and men of all ages are once again enjoying the outdoors.

For more information on contributing to Wheelin' Sportsmen or for information on Wheelin' Sportsmen programs, call Wheelin' Sportsmen National Coordinator/Founder Kirk Thomas at (803) 637-3106 or e-mail him at kthomas@nwtf.net.

The NWTF would like to thank the donors for this event: Big Tin Barn, Dick & Sons Diving Service, Farmers & Tyco Feed, Jasper Farm & Ranch, Temple-Inland, Christy Williams-Mary Kay Ind. Consultant, Susie's Cajun Grill, Indian Creek Lodge, Candy Bouquet, Rayurn Country Club, Inc., The Edge of Eden, Smith & Barnhart-The Communication Location, Tyra & Debbie Rich and Marilyn Boone. Also, thanks to the Chapter Sponsors: First Bank and Trust, Hollis Tire, Jasper Outboard, Mathews Construction, Quality Concrete, Brian Bell, Dive Toledo Scuba Center, Lakes Area & Phillips Pawn, Sleepy Ratcliff, Joe Cloud, Jasper Exxon, Kingham Construction, Mason Martindale Group, Star Concrete Pumping, Timberlake Insurance, Parker Lumber, Pro-Tex and Speciality Tree Stands

For more information about the National Wild Turkey Federation or any of its affiliate programs, call 1-800-THE-NWTF or visit their website at www.nwtf.org

* Research information courtesy of www.nwtf.org


JR's Ranch House brought lots of great BBQ to the banquet that everyone enjoyed

There were several ways to win at the banquet. This game was called "Rob the Nest" and chances were bought to find the boiled eggs in the nest. If you found a boiled egg, then you would have a chance to win an authentic NWTF shotgun
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

Many fine pieces of artwork, provided by renowned artists were displayed for auction-

The auction raised important money for the funding of special projects by the NWTF

Original lamps, statues and other artwork were just some of the items donated for auction

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