In February 2020 I had the great pleasure of attending the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Annual Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tennessee.
While I had been warned that going once would not be enough, I was not prepared for true the warning was. From having dinner at the Wild Horse Saloon downtown, to walking past some of the most popular faces from hunting TV shows, it was an incredible experience, and I came back to New York ready to go south again in 2021.
However, the convention was during the beginning stages of COVID-19 coming to the United States. Now a year later, the NWTF is holding the convention virtually due to the pandemic, beginning on Monday (February 15).
While this is not ideal, especially for the vendors who go to the sport show portion of the show and rely on selling product to make money, there could be some silver lining to be found. While I was able to take the time off from work, travel and hotel costs were still a burden. Being able to attend virtually makes it so that I can attend the different workshops, meetings, and ceremonies without having to leave New York. Most of the scheduled presentations are at 2:00 PM or later during the week, so they can be seen by a lot of people on the east coast.
Some of the topics of these include how to host a mentored hunt, how to hold a virtual banquet, and an awards presentation from the Bass Pro Shops Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. There will be a virtual exhibit hall with some of the top brand names in the outdoor industry where you can see new products and even be able to purchase products from some of the vendors directly online. There also are ways to enter to win prizes.
One of the most anticipated events of the convention is the Grand National Auction. Usually this happens after dinner on Saturday night. Included in the auction are one-of-a-kind hunts and rare items. In 2020, a Kansas deer hunt with the Bone Collector TV show with the hunt being filmed and included on their show sold for 13- or 14-thousand dollars!
They have a similar hunt set to be auctioned off this year along with other incredibly unique prizes, including a bottle of reserve bourbon that was finished in an oak barrel made from the lumber of the original Mossy Oak tree. It is fun to see what great items get donated and what people are willing to spend on them. All money raised at the auction goes towards the NWTF mission of conserving the wild turkey and preserving our hunting heritage.
So, if the snow and cold weather is starting to make you yearn for spring and chasing gobbling turkeys around, consider the NWTF virtual convention to help you get into the spring mindset. In order to participate in any of the virtual events, you just need to be an NWTF member. If you already are a member, you just need to enter your membership ID number and create a password to make a login for the convention. A basic membership is $35 for one year, and if sign up online you receive a $25 gift card to Bass Pro Shops. With your membership you will also receive Turkey Country, the NWTF magazine, 6 times a year.