NWTF plans annual banquet

Published 12:17 am Sunday, March 4, 2012

The local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will celebrate its 20th anniversary Friday, March 9 with its annual “Hunting Heritage” banquet at the former Selma National Guard Armory at Lion’s Park.

The Blaster Chapter, as it’s known, has long been considered one of the best chapters in the country, by being one of the few chapters to earn “Golden Gobbler” status, which is awarded to chapters based on the most net dollars raised from its banquet.

“Our banquet has finished in the top three rated banquets nationally for the last 22-years,” said Jere Peak, who served as president and chairman of the board of the national chapter for four years. “We keep expenses low, so a higher percentage of what is raised goes back to the resource.”

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Peak said NWTF is considered to be the most effective conservation organization in the country, relative to its peer groups including Buck Masters, Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

“The passion our volunteers have for wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage is what drives us,” he said. “We’ve had a really good balance between God, family, country and conservation.”

One of those volunteers, Lee Calame, an avid hunter who recalls going to NWTF banquets at an early age, said hunting the elusive bird is only part of what makes turkey hunters who they are.

“I can remember my dad explaining to me that hunting was much than the thrill of the hunt, it was about making new friends and keeping up old ones, learning about wildlife conservation, and making sure that we will be able to enjoy the outdoors for years to come,” Calame said.  “The NWTF plays a key role in making sure the experience of turkey hunting for young and old will live on for generations.”

Although the national organization drives awareness and conservation efforts, Peak said it’s the local chapter members, leadership and community that elevates the Blaster Chapter above others.

“Our local community has given us tremendous support,” he said. “It’s important to us to have an event that has a family atmosphere, where children are welcome. The community recognizes the NWTF is a good steward of the money that is raised and sees a large percentage of their dollars used to help promote the wild turkey and conservation.”

This year’s banquet will feature a fresh seafood buffet from Roussos Seafood of Mobile, a live auction, silent auction, and much more. Tickets are $60 for single tickets, or $80 per couple and $25 for “Jakes” (children). Sponsorships are also available for $295, and among other things include two tickets, a sponsor pin, decal and card; and invitation for two to the fall banquet, which is a steak supper; six issues of Turkey Call magazine and a chance for a sponsor only drawing for prizes where one out of eight will be a winner. Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased from George’s Paint and Body (872-1441) or by calling 418-8210.