3 Reasons to Join the Nation Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF)

3 Reasons to Join the Nation Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF)

WldTrky
I have been an advocate of conservation ever since I could understand the concept.  As hunters we pursue animals for many reasons, but mostly for food and the experience.  A long time ago someone figured out that we needed to not only protect wildlife population size, but also preserve the precious habitat these animals live in.  The stories of Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold are intriguing to say the least and they create great inspiration for many people.  But what I find most important is acting and carrying on their efforts towards conservation in my own way.  It does not take a lot to make a positive impact; as hunters we do quite a bit already.  I joined the National Wild Turkey Federation at the end of the year in 2014 as an effort to further my contributions to conservation. I found out that I could (and eventually would) make a significant contribution than just my $35 donation to the NWTF organization.  In this article, I have listed the top three reasons to join NWTF if you are a hunter in search of improving your hunting and habitat. 

 

1)Habitat Improvement

They primary reason I joined the NWTF was because I wanted to help improve the habitat.  My goal was to involve myself with at least one or two projects that involved helping improve existing or new wild turkey habitat. I had the opportunity to join one of the members in my chapter on his food plot project on his hunting property.  This felt like I was not only aiding in habitat enhancement for the local turkey population, but I also felt like I was improving the hunting opportunities on this property. The benefits of contributing in this way are so gratifying, which is why I strongly recommend asking you chapter’s senior members what you can do to help in your neck of the turkey woods.  As a member you get discounts on food plot tools and seed through the NWTF member catalog.  Additionally, some chapters even buy food plot seed in bulk and distribute it to their members at a small cost; saving the members a lot of money in the long run. 

 

2)Financial Contribution

 

An individual donation for an annual membership starts at just $35.  There are two higher levels of membership: NWTF Sponsor ($250) and Major Donor (see Major Donor Giving Levels).  Just as a regular member there are great benefits. 

 

                -Eligible to join NWTF Conservation Rewards

                -Eligible for NWTF Hunt Club Insurance

                -Eligible for NWTF Travel Insurance

                -Eligible for Rams Trucks- Chrysler Affiliate Rewards Program

In addition to accessing the aforementioned benefits, there are annual conventions held for each chapter that are a lot of fun.  The conventions will often have raffles and giveaways of NWTF merchandise, guns, wildlife artwork, turkey calls, hunting trips and much more.  I can recall at my first NWTF convention a fishing trip that cost about $1500 auctioned off for $300.  That is not a typo. 

 

3)New Friends and Connections

About a year ago I moved from the east side of Michigan to the west side, so meeting new people and making friends was something I wanted to do considering that all my friends and family lived nearly 4 hours away.  When I joined my NWTF chapter I felt like I was right at home.  I had no idea what to expect, but after the meeting I remember feeling like I really connected with this group of guys.  They think the same way I think about conservation and turkey hunting.  They enjoy the sport, the conservation efforts and the comradery turkey hunting builds with friends and family.  They understood my passion for hunting and conservation, and provided information on how I can contribute towards NWTF’s conservation plans.  What is great about NWTF is that you can be involved as much, or as little as you want.  If you are okay with just contributing $35 a year and attending a convention or two- that’s fine.  If you want to be involved with hands-on projects then you can volunteer your time to do a number of things, such as help the DNR post “Public Hunting” signs, or help a fellow member with habitat improvement projects on his land.  Either way your efforts are appreciated.  Lastly, if you’re lucky enough maybe some of your fellow members will hook you up with a hunting spot or two.  Based on personal experience, if you offer to do some work and build a relationship with the other members you may end up with a few new hunting spots for the spring. 

 

Going into my second year as an NWTF member I am excited to meet new people and recruit new hunters.  I strongly believe in the NWTF’s principals and their mission as a conservation organization.  With this in mind, my personal goal is to help others learn more about what the NWTF is and if anyone is interested in joining I would love to be a part of their onboarding process.  Many hunters take conservation groups for granted and they have the mentality that those people are always going to be there to speak for them.  The truth is most of the leaders within these organizations are getting older; and in the near future they will need someone to fill their roles as conservation leaders.  This scenario holds true in my chapter currently, and when the time comes I would be honored to step up and take on the commitments of a committee leader.  My challenge to you- find a way to give back to the sport that gives its life to you.  Think about what hunting has done for you in your life, and think about what you can do to improve hunting for the next generation and keep our traditions growing stronger.    

 

Learn more at www.nwtf.org 

Billy Bourdo:  Highlights of a Wild Turkey Grand Slam Season

Billy Bourdo: Highlights of a Wild Turkey Grand Slam Season

Being an outdoor writer, I am always looking for a great resource to tap or a good story to tell. And during the spring of 2015, I took notice of the local die-hard turkey hunter, William “Billy” Bourdo, who is quickly breaking into the hunting industry.

Billy currently is a pro-staffer for Ultimate Addiction TV and has filmed for Country Born Traditions TV, featured on the Hunt Channel, and with RNT-V who premieres on the Sportsman Channel. Needless to say, Billy is making strides into the hunting show-biz,and his success in the turkey woods has played a major factor in his accomplishments. Billy has been hunting turkeys since it was legal for him to do so, and he has been traveling to different states to turkey hunt since he was seventeen years old. He holds 9 record book tom turkeys in the state of Michigan, and has added to his already long list of record book achievements just this past spring. Billy had a turkey season to remember, and I am excited to share the successes he had in efforts to inspire anyone who is looking for a turkey hunting adventure. Without further delay, here are the highlights of Billy Bourdo’s 2015 turkey season.

Billy Bourdo - FloridaThe first stop for Billy was Hawthorne, Florida. This particular hunt was special because Billy had already put tags on three of the four species of Wild Turkey needed to complete a Grand Slam. The Grand Slam (for those of you who don’t know) entails harvesting the four species of Wild Turkey in the United States. These are: Eastern Wild Turkey, Rio Grande Wild Turkey, Merriam Wild Turkey and Osceola Wild Turkey. The Osceola Wild Turkey resides exclusively in the state of Florida, and getting the opportunity to hunt the Osceola is a challenge in itself, which is why Billy booked his hunt well in advance. This hunt came down to the wire, but Billy managed to pull it off at last light on the last day of his hunt in Florida. The weary Osceola Tom came in silent towards Billy’s decoy set after a few yelping sequences. The bird fully committed to the decoys, and with a quick bark of the Bennelli, Billy was able to scratch off the Grand Slam from his bucket list.

Next stop: South Carolina. If clinching the Grand Slam wasn’t enough, Billy managed to harvest an eighty-five Billy Bourdo - South Carolinapoint, double bearded record book Tom with a bow and arrow; which is now a new state record. This hunt took place in Charleston, South Carolina and Billy was tagged out by 7:00am on the first morning of the hunt. The record book Tom came running in to a three decoy set gobbling his head off. Billy drew his Mathews bow back and managed a head shot with a G5 Montec broadhead. This bird’s first beard was 11 ¼ inches and the second beard was 9 inches, and weighed in at 22 lbs. with 1 ¼ inch spurs. Dandy bird and a hunt that Billy will never forget.

 

Billy BourdoBilly is no stranger to traveling for a hunt or series of hunts. His third hunt brought him back to Kansas public land in an area that he was very familiar with. It was April 11th and during this time of the turkey season in Kansas it is restricted to bow only hunting. Billy finally arrived in Kansas late at night and didn’t find his faithful spot until 2 AM. Needless to say, he didn’t get much sleep and when 5 AM rolled around, the hunt was on. Billy watched a mixture of twelve to thirteen hens and jakes feed around for a while. When they departed, he sounded off a short calling sequence that sparked a big gobbler’s interest. This gobbler was worked up and Billy capitalized by calling him in to bow range and making a perfect shot.

 

Billy Bourdo - MissouriBilly’s next hunt took place in Missouri where he attempted to find birds on public land the night before, but unfortunately had no luck. Later that night, his turned around when he started talking hunting with one of the local folks at the bar. A nice guy by the name of Tyson informed Billy that there were birds in his hay fields visiting regularly every morning and invited him to come hunt his farm. Billy gladly accepted and found himself in front of a decoy set in the back corner of Tyson’s hayfields the next morning. A fly-down call and a series of various yelp sequences brought Billy’s next harvest right into his lap. He made quick work of this bird with the help of a friendly local on April 24th right before the start of the Michigan turkey season.

 

 

It was Mother’s day back in Delton, Michigan and Billy had been targeting a bird that he got to know very well over Billy Bourdo - Michiganthe years. This bird was a 5 year old with nearly 2 inch spurs and was rightfully named “Hooks”. Billy had passed four other gobblers in the days prior in efforts to get a shot opportunity at “Hooks”. Out smarting this 5 year old gobbler was not going to be easy, and the torrential down pour of rain that day was making this hunt even more difficult. However, Billy was determined to harvest this bird that he had been after for years. The sky brightened but no sunlight was let through the clouds. The rain beat down on Billy and the water bled through his cloths, but he sat tight, calling and waiting. After doing a couple soft yelps, a thundering gobble cut-off Billy’s calling sequence about twenty yards behind him. It wasn’t long before “Hooks” stepped out of the brush and Billy took aim. At this point, it was raining so hard Billy could barely see the edge of the brush line. Despite the optical deficiency, he settled his bead on the gobblers red head that pierced through the pouring rain. With an echoing boom of the Bennelli, Billy closed the book on the legend of “Hooks”.

 

Billy’s final hunt took place in New York with his good friend John Sheehan. John had a lot of connections in hisBilly Bourdo - New York neighborhood, which really helped when locating birds to hunt. On the morning of May 15th, Billy and John set up on a field where they knew birds were going to be visiting. It wasn’t long after daylight when they started to hear a few gobbles from where the expected roosting location was. Billy started calling a little and the big toms responded. A group of toms ran across the field right at the decoys and the strutting show began. Billy and John watched these birds posture at the decoys until they noticed that one of the birds started getting nervous. Suddenly the flock’s behavior changed and Billy knew they would have to get off a quick shot. Before the targeted toms could get away, Billy and John punched one of their New York turkey tags at 4:45am.

 

Billy BourdoNeedless to say, Billy had a phenomenal turkey hunting season in 2015. Not only did he complete theGrand Slam, but he also managed to make it to the top of the record books in another state. What is even cooler is that I didn’t even reveal half of his entire successful season. Billy’s fellow Ultimate Addiction TV pro staffers and friends managed to tag out on birds while on some of these hunts as well. Justin Loofboro, Ultimate Addiction TV pro staffer, managed to complete his Grand Slam as well during the 2015 turkey season. Go to www.uaoutdoors.com to learn more about the Ultimate Addiction team. Lastly, I hope this article inspires you to hunt and reap success in the way Billy managed to. Turkey hunting is hard work, and stories such as Billy’s always push me to learn and hunt more.

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