Turkey Diversity In Music City

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Convention in Nashville was a massive, massive event.

With tens of thousands of attendees gathering at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and hundreds of exhibitors showing the latest in production innovations it is a paradise for those who pursue the nation’s greatest game bird.

I went with the perspective of seeing what’s going on in the world of turkey and habitat conservation and hunt adventures around the country. And I was not disappointed.

Here are some interesting finds and observations from the show.

*The first thing visitors saw when walking into the event was a massive display of whitetail and turkey taxidermy that were part of a nation-wide competition. The work was stunning but the thing that captured my attention was a smoke phase Osceola turkey. They are the most challenging bird of the Grand Slam due to rarity and intensely thick habitat. Finding and taking a smoke phase is like shooting a double drop tine albino buck. It is beyond rare.

A super-rare smoke phase Osceola turkey.

*Conservation really is the heart of the this hunting community. Virtually everyone I spoke with talked in terms of habitat, restoration and hunter recruitment. I had lengthy talks with NWTF Texas members who were very excited about their role in helping bring eastern turkey back to the Pineywoods and upgrading turkey conservation in the Lone Star State. Great things are coming to my home state.

*Diversity is important to the hunters who pursue these great birds. The aforementioned Grand Slam which consists of the Eastern, Rio Grande, Osceola and Merriam’s is looked at as a lifelong goal by many hunters and managing birds so these subspecies stay at high numbers. In addition outfitter groups offering hunts for Gould’s and ocellated birds had big lines. And while these hunts can be expensive, in comparison to taking a Grand Slam of North American wild sheep it is affordable. That should inspire hunters looking for something new and exciting to pursue.

*There are many lady turkey hunters and a number of lady hunter entrepreneurs with turkey-centric products. There was some very cool stuff on the show floor.  It’s wonderful to see the hunting community considering women more and also reaching out to minorities in a genuine, forward-thinking way.

Great stuff and a great show.

Chester Moore, Jr.

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