Big Event, Small World
Published: February 19th, 2020
By: Eric Davis

Big event, small world Submitted Photo

At 2:30 a.m. my alarm clock on my phone went off and I rolled out of bed in my friend’s spare bedroom. We were out the door at 3:00 and headed to the airport in Syracuse.

After two flights with a short layover between, we landed in Nashville, Tennessee around 11:00 AM local time (noon back in NY). We ordered an Uber from the airport to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

Within an hour of landing we were checked into our room and I was amazed at the size of the venue. We walked through an open area on the way to our room where we crossed over a stream and there was a group of people taking a tour ride on a boat in the stream INSIDE of the hotel! Over the next five days, I found myself wandering around lost two or three times.

The reason for our trip to Nashville was the National Wild Turkey Federation’s National Leadership Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday and the National Convention Thursday through Saturday. In my six years of volunteering with the NWTF, I had heard about the convention but had never attended. However, this year when I was invited to the Leadership Conference it only seemed logical just to stay for the rest of the week and take in the convention. The convention consists of lunches and dinners with auctions and/or raffles, the Grand National turkey calling contest, custom call making contests, a sport show, and informational meetings/seminars.

After sitting through presentations during the Leadership Conference, I was ready to stretch my legs during the convention. Each day I walked around the sport show floor looking at vendor booths and talking to some of the vendors about their products. I also found myself chatting with other show attendees at some booths sharing experiences and stories. On Friday, I was in line at a booth to give them my email address to be added to their mailing list so that I could get a free t-shirt.

The man in front of me in line turned around and asked me if I worked for the NWTF because I was wearing a polo with my chapter name and the NWTF logo on it. I explained that I am a volunteer and that I am the president of a local chapter. He goes on to ask where I am from.

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I respond with, “Upstate New York.”

“No way.” He replied. “Where exactly?”

“Chenango County, outside of Binghamton.” I said to give a general idea.

“I know where that is, I have a hunting camp in Windsor. Do you go to the Sullivan County NWTF banquet? My buddies and I go every year.”

“No, it’s a little too far for me but I know their chapter president, Butch, because I am on the state board with him.” I explained.

After that we chatted for a few minutes until it was our turn to enter our emails into the tablets at the desk in the booth. Afterwards, he found his friend he had come with in a neighboring booth and told him how I was from New York just like them. The three of us stood there talking for about 5 minutes before I told them about a special I had seen when one of them mentioned wanting a new jacket. We shook hands and parted ways in the sea of people in the sport show.

After walking away and stopping at a few more booths, it hit me. What are the odds of running into another New Yorker at a convention in Nashville that has over 10,000 people go through the doors every day. While the odds are probably low, it was a reassuring feeling that there are fellow New Yorkers who are into turkey hunting enough to travel to Nashville and to support the mission of the National Wild Turkey Federation.