By John Hackett:
The Oak Ridge Gobblers Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) held its 2nd annual Hunting Heritage Banquet April 6th, 2013 at the Anthon Iowa Community Center.
Over 200 turkey hunting enthusiasts from around the area attended the event. Attendees enjoyed a catered steak dinner followed by games, raffles, and an opportunity to bid on silent and live auction items. Several firearms were available and used as general raffle items, prizes for games, and as auction items. Along with wildlife prints, bronze sculptures and numerous hunting gear items were auctioned or given out as raffle prizes. NWTF chapters around the country use similar banquets for membership drives and fund raisers.
The NWTF uses most of the money raised for public hunting land acquisition and for youth activities. Since being founded in 1973 the NWTF has partnered with other conservation organizations to conserve nearly 17.25 million acres of habitat. Locally the NWTF helped to add property to the Oak Ridge Conservation Area. Oak Ridge encompasses more than 2,082 acres of public land in the hills adjacent to the Little Sioux River Valley between Oto and Smithland.
Money raised is also spent on the NWTF’s “JAKES Take Aim program”. The goal of the JAKES program is “to present opportunities for youth age 17 and younger to try target shooting, clay target shooting and shotgunning in a safe, fun environment”. The local Oak Ridge Gobblers use some of their local money to provide free turkey hunts for youth who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to go. The emphasis of these hunts is more in the overall experience of being in the outdoors, than that of actually bagging a turkey. Lessons in safety and ethics are at the foremost of the Oak Ridge Gobblers youth hunts.
If you missed the banquet it’s still not too late to gain membership in the National Wild Turkey Federation. You can log onto the national web site at http://www.nwtf.org/ , or you can locally stop at The Shooting Shop in Anthon to fill out a membership.