Arguably no national conservation organization has enjoyed greater success than the National Wild Turkey Federation. Founded 40 years ago, the NWTF has been an integral part of one of the all-time great wildlife comeback stories. Mind you, the fact that wild turkeys are solidly established in their original range and beyond is the product of several factors, with state wildlife agencies playing a critical role, but the NWTF has been a committed and constant partner in restoration.
Indeed, the NWTF has been so successful that the organization finds itself in the unusual position of having completely fulfilled its original mission and needing to look towards new horizons. Only time will tell how well it does that, but whatever the future holds, we can agree that the heart and soul of the organization is the wild turkey. In talking with board members at the organization’s recent national convention in Nashville, I discovered that they are in the process of formulating new goals and implementing an ambitious five-year plan which will focus on recruiting new hunters, habitat protection, and related issues which directly affect the future of one of America’s most cherished traditions – the right to hunt and access to do so.
Whatever the future holds, there’s no doubt it’s that time of year – anticipation of the rites of spring, taking a new gun out to pattern it, and stocking up on turkey calls and accessories. One part of what I heard one devoted turkey hunter describe as “this glorious mess” is the Rock Hill chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s annual banquet. This year’s event is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, at the Magnolia Room at Laurel Creek on India Hook Road. Regulars at past banquets will notice that this is a new venue. Seating is limited to 200 people.
The festivities begin at 6 p.m. and will be catered by Beef O’Brady’s. The meal will feature a Frogmore Stew along with salad, dessert, and tea. There will be an alternative entrée for those who cannot eat shellfish.
The overall format for the evening will follow the standard pattern of a silent auction, a live auction for a limited number of top-drawer items, a raffle table, and perhaps some special “game” raffles. Among the items available will be local hunting and fishing trips, art work, a variety of guns, art work, household items geared towards the sportsman’s mentality, and a number of special items for women.
There are various levels of tickets, topped by a sponsor table at $1000 which includes a year’s membership in the NWTF, a special Boyt Harness shoulder bag, sponsor pin and decal, and all the standard membership benefits (the latter includes a subscription to “Turkey Country” magazine). A sponsor table includes eight meal tickets, the sponsor membership and seven regular memberships. It is an ideal way for someone to extend a special thank you to turkey hunting buddies. The host of a sponsor table also receives a special incentive gun and is eligible for entry in a number of drawings for sponsors to be held during the evening.
A lower level of sponsorship, at $300, includes a sponsor membership and inclusion of a guest for the banquet. Couples tickets, with one regular membership, are $100; single tickets, with one regular membership, are $55; and Jakes tickets with a junior membership for those 17 or younger are $25.
All the proceeds go to sponsor the work of the NWTF on local and national levels. The banquet is a special time of year. It offers hunters the sense of doing something positive to support a sport they cherish or the sense of “connectedness” to like-minded folks. The real joy of the annual banquet comes in opportunities for fellowship, the chance to talk about plans for the upcoming season, and a sense of “it’s almost time” conveyed by being in the company of other turkey hunters. If you happen to come away with some sort of raffle prize or perhaps purchase an item which really catches your eye, so much the better.
For details on the banquet or to buy tickets, call 803-329-1954, 803-925-1860, 803-613-9042 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.