The Oak Ridge Gobblers Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) held its 3rd annual Hunting Heritage Banquet April 12th, 2014 at the Anthon Iowa Community Center.
Close to 200 outdoor enthusiasts from around the area attended the event. The doors opened at 5:00 P.M. with a “happy hour” that lasted until 7:00. At that time attendees enjoyed a steak dinner catered by Staley’s Food Service of Charter Oak Iowa. NWTF chapters around the country use similar banquets for membership drives and fund raisers. The Oak Ridge Banquet has in its short three years has become one of the most attended and highest money raising events for the NWTF in the tri-state region.
Dinner was 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. Also several wildlife prints, bronze sculptures and numerous hunting gear items were auctioned or given out as raffle prizes. A separate drawing for youth was held. The local chapter managed to get enough sponsorship to be able to award a prize to every youth in attendance.
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/ to find out more information.