New And Old Faces, All Friends: Part 2
Published: March 8th, 2023
By: Eric Davis

New and Old Faces, All Friends: Part 2

Continuing with a recap of my trip to Nashville for the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) National Convention and Sport Show, we pick up on Friday morning.

I woke up, showered, got dressed and headed down to the convention center around 7:30. I figured that would let me get breakfast from one of stores in the resort before heading to the Sport Show when it opened at 8:00.

The Sport Show is full of everything turkey hunting and them some. All of the major hunting companies that have any turkey hunting gear have booths set up to display it. Many of the top firearms companies have booths as well. But the call makers are what sets the show over the top. Up and down every row of booths, you hear a nonstop chorus of turkey calls as they demonstrate the sound their calls make or encourage customers to try them out. I wanted to go see one of those call makers who is from western New York. In 2020 I bought a crystal surface pot call from David Halloran Custom Calls. It was the first “good” pot call I bought, and I really like how it sounds, but I’ve been having a hard time with the surface needing to be reconditioned.

I tried using 100-grit sandpaper but it never got back to the sound like when I first bought it. Last year I learned they sell a conditioning stick with a sanding block/stone on the end for their crystal calls, so I planned on buying it while I was there this year. I found their booth and bought the conditioner and a t-shirt after talking to David and his wife for a few minutes after telling them I am the NWTF-NY president. Then I swung by the Turkey Shoppe, which is run by NWTF staff, and is mostly clothing and hats with some other things that are all branded with the NWTF logo. I wanted some more shirts with the new logo, so I found a table with buy one, get one free t-shirts on it.

After finding my size in two different colors, I overheard a worker say a rack of jackets and vests was also buy one, get one free and you could mix and match them. So, I grabbed a winter coat and a puffy vest and headed to the checkout. It was a little before 11:00, which was when they opened the doors for the Soiree Lunch where my donated wine rack was going to be auctioned so I started walking to the lunch room.

As I got close to where I thought the lunch was, I hit a huge group of people walking the opposite direction in the corridor. After passing a few of them, I noticed quite a few of them wearing clothing with The Hunting Public logo on them. (If you don’t know who they are, The Hunting Public is a group of guys who have a YouTube channel where they post videos of themselves hunting on public land all over the country for deer and turkeys.) This is when I remembered that The Hunting Public was giving a seminar on turkey hunting and calling, so this crowd must have come from the seminar. When I got to the end of the corridor, I turned the corner and realized that I was not at the room for the Soiree Lunch. As I grabbed my phone to look at the picture of the map I took after checking in, I noticed that the guys from The Hunting Public were talking to some people in the hall next to the seminar room. An NWTF staff member from PA was there so I walked over.

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After a minute, I introduced myself to Jake and told him I was an NWTF volunteer from NY. We talked for a few minutes about deer and turkey hunting in NY and what an impact they were having on getting people interested in supporting turkey research before I asked him if he minded taking a picture with me. He said no problem and even grabbed Aaron to get in the picture as well. We got another fan to snap a few pictures before I thanked them and headed back to try to find the room for lunch. Turns out I was one level lower than I needed to be, so I just went up a set of stairs and was outside the luncheon.

Once in the luncheon, I showed a few other people I knew the pictures of The Hunting Public guys. We got lunch and waited for the auction to see what my wine rack sold for. It was about halfway through the live auction so we had to wait a decent amount of time, but it finally came up for bid. The winning bid ended up being $650!

After the lunch ended, I ran back to my room to drop off the bags of the stuff I had bought at the Sport Show and ended up laying down to recharge a bit before getting changed into my shirt and tie for the Awards Gala Dinner. National awards for a wide range of categories were given away, including Wildlife Officer of the Year. An officer from Arkansas won this distinction and became the first ever female winner in NWTF history. After the dinner was finished, I changed back into casual clothes and went back to the PA suite to talk and hang out for awhile before heading to bed.