Last week I spent a day and a half downstate as a volunteer for the National Wild Turkey Federation. I currently hold the position of State Chapter President on the Board of Directors. The reason for the trip was the formation of a chapter in New York City.
I was there to offer support and insight from a volunteer perspective along with answering any questions that were brought up during our meeting with the people interested in becoming volunteers on Wednesday.
The first day, we got to White Plains in Westchester County around four o’clock in the afternoon. We met with a couple other people with NWTF at the hotel and that night we went to Yankee Stadium for a game against the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately, the game was put on a delayed start due to some storms in the area but luckily it never did rain.
The game started about an hour later than originally scheduled. Two of the guys with us were from Virginia and North Carolina. Since this was likely their only time they would go to Yankee Stadium, we picked slightly more expensive seats and sat down the first base line but adjacent to right field. Our excitement was highest about 5 pitches into the game as a foul ball seemed to be coming right for us. We all stood up in preparation to try to catch it, but it ended up landing 5 seats farther down in our row. The ball landed in the guy’s lap as he was eating chicken wings! After freeing his hands from his dinner, he gave the ball to a young boy sitting in the row behind us. The Yankees ended up giving up four runs in the top of the ninth inning and losing the game 4-3.
On Wednesday, we met at a restaurant in Queens to discuss fundraising events and what direction the new chapter volunteers felt like they wanted to head in. The first volunteer to arrive was Dave. Dave lives in Westchester County above the city but is interested in helping get a chapter going in New York City and maybe later breaking off to have a Westchester County based chapter. We talked some as we waited for the other volunteer to get there. Dave told us that he’s only been hunting for a few years even though he is middle-aged.
After a little bit, Cliff, the chapter’s president, walked in. If you were a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation in 2020, you likely saw Cliff in the NWTF magazine. It was the first issue of the revamped style put out after COVID. The article discussed Cliff’s backstory as a lifelong resident of New York City who started shooting compound bow as a recreational outlet.
Then after shooting bow, he became interested in hunting with his bow (because owning a firearm in NYC is difficult). So, when Cliff started hunting, he would get up early and carry his bow onto a train to get outside of the city to hunt on public land. Cliff then found a mentor who had private land to hunt where he showed Cliff the ropes of turkey and deer hunting with archery equipment.
July 10 was the first state board of directors meeting where I was in charge as president. I brought up going to New York City along with Sean, the Regional Director for NWTF for the majority of New York, as part of my President’s Report. After the meeting, I was told that while I was talking about it, a board member mumbled “There’s no turkeys in New York City.” It is that closed-minded approach that fuels the fire of losing out on potential new hunters and members of our organization. Cliff is a delivery driver and told us about delivering treestands and camouflage clothing boxes to people in the city and talking hunting with them. So while there might not be turkeys, they definitely are hunters in the city,