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.
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.
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