The Blaster chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation gave away free fishing poles to all the children in attendance at their annual Heritage Banquet, held at the Old National Guard Armory. More than 250 Dallas County and Selma residents were in attendance.  -- Sarah Cook
The Blaster chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation gave away free fishing poles to all the children in attendance at their annual Heritage Banquet, held at the Old National Guard Armory. More than 250 Dallas County and Selma residents were in attendance. -- Sarah Cook

National Wild Turkey Federation banquet celebrates outdoors

Published 10:55pm Friday, March 8, 2013

Residents old and young packed into the Old National Guard Armory Friday night not only to eat delicious food but to also celebrate hunting and the outdoors.

The Blaster chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation has been hosting their annual Hunting Heritage Banquet for 21 years and Jerri Peak, chapter president, said the event is always a good time.

“This is our annual fundraiser for the National Wild Turkey Federation,” Peak said. “The monies raised here tonight will go towards creating suitable habitats for wild turkey, which then benefits many other species.”

In 1973 the NWTF was created to help preserve the wild turkey and the land it inhabits, Peak explained. And since it’s establishment, the wild turkey has increased in population by more than 5 million in the United States.

Peak said the banquet is held yearly to serve as a “thank you” to all those in Selma and Dallas County who support the Blaster chapter and also to remind people how important hunting and land preservation are.

“It also provides an educational process for our young kids in which they learn how to become ethical hunters, how to become safe hunters and how to conserve and enjoy the outdoors,” Peak said.

Attendees also had the opportunity to participate in a live and silent auction, which included firearms, knives, outdoor furniture and other specialty items.

Jade Johnson, outdoors enthusiast and winner of the Miss Central Alabama Fair Pageant, said more young people — especially females —should indulge in outdoor sports and activities like hunting.

“I’m not really the indoor type of beauty queen,” Johnson admitted. “I want more girls to realize that sports and hunting — these aren’t just activities for the guys.”

As she competes for Miss Alabama, Johnson said her platform is the Women’s Sports Foundation, which supports women involvement in the outdoors.

Charles Duckett, banquet chairman, said he was impressed with how many people came out to support the NWTF and the Blaster chapter.

“The crowd has been outstanding tonight,” Duckett said, adding that more than 250 were in attendance.

As one of the few organizations in the nation that fights to preserve the right to hunt, Duckett said it’s important that people are aware of the benefits of hunting and why it’s so crucial for the environment.

“I’ve been affiliated with a lot of organizations but to me, the NWTF is the greatest organization I’ve been with because they believe in the right to hunt and the right to bear arms,” Duckett said. “We also put a tremendous amount of money into land conservation.”

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