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Nashville -- Tom Hunter's Busman's Holiday


ou went where to do what?” So quizzed a friend when I mentioned that I just got home from Nashville where I attended the National Wild Turkey Federation’s annual Convention and Sports Show for the fourth time.

As usual, it was a quickie trip. It lasted only four days and involved four flights and brief layovers in such exotic places as Los Angeles and Dallas Fort Worth. I cannot complain, as all the flights were on time, and I left Nashville on Sunday before life there came to a standstill on Monday due to converging warm and cold storms that covered roadways, and every other available surface, with ice and snow. Back there the temperature was in single digits; here in Shasta County it was 78 degrees and sunny. Almost made me feel guilty--but I got over it when I was mowing my lawn.

My reason for going to Nashville was to renew friendships and to keep tabs on what’s happening with regard to the industry built around turkey hunting. I’ve been writing about turkey hunting since 1971 and over the years I’ve met and hunted with some of the biggest names in the business. It’s fun to watch those guys on television and point them out to Sharon. “I’ve hunted with him,” I’ll say or, “I interviewed that guy for one of my articles.”

 Pictured here from left are Matt Drury son of Mark, Paul Butski of Turkey Thugs television, Mark and Terry Drury hosts of Drury Outdoors television and Chris Kirby owner of Quaker Boy Calls Inc.
Nashville is a good place to meet the celebrities we watch on outdoor sports television. Pictured here from left are Matt Drury son of Mark, Paul Butski of Turkey Thugs television, Mark and Terry Drury hosts of Drury Outdoors television and Chris Kirby owner of Quaker Boy Calls Inc.

Sharon humors me, and then goes back to reading a mystery novel or cleaning the cat litter box. She’s obviously not as star struck as I am. I invited her to come to Nashville with me but she begged off, saying I should go have my fun while she enjoyed the peace and quiet, and had full control of the house. I always wonder what changes will be made while I’m gone--but that’s another story.

Actually, my meet and greets at the convention are helpful in my writing.

Author John Higley overlooks the Cascade restaurant inside the Gaylord facility.
Author John Higley overlooks the Cascade restaurant inside the Gaylord facility.

It’s good to be recognized by the folks you have to prevail on for interviews during the year. They’re much more likely to answer the phone when they know who you are. I guess that’s called networking or kissing up, I’m not sure which. Oh, all right, one of the guys did threaten to Hollywood kiss me on the cheek and that was scary.

To show his ridiculous side Missouri’s Ray Eye, popular radio and television host, seminar speaker and author, attempts to plant a Hollywood kiss on author Higley’s cheek.
To show his ridiculous side Missouri’s Ray Eye, popular radio and television host, seminar speaker and author, attempts to plant a Hollywood kiss on author Higley’s cheek. He missed, thank heavens.

A good time was had by all In Nashville. I hobnobbed with guys like Matt Morrett of Zink Calls and Avian X television and Chris Kirby owner of Quaker Boy Calls. Paul Butski of Maestro Game Calls and Turkey Thugs television, was there as were Eddie Salter host of Turkey Man television, Preston Pittman of Pittman Game Calls and Alex Rutledge of Bloodlines television. And the list goes on.

Higley with Flextone’s Eddie Salter who masquerades as television’s Turkey Man.
Higley with Flextone’s Eddie Salter who masquerades as television’s Turkey Man.

I arrived on February 12, and got settled into the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, where I had a room for three nights. The Gaylord is a huge facility all under a glass roof. In addition to the convention center, the place has several wings, a mini town, restaurants, waterfalls and an indoor river on which boat tours are held. After four years, I’ve finally learned how to get from a room to the convention center but not by the shortest route. The Gaylord is so big that some of the workers I met there still haven’t seen it all. No kidding.

One wing of the immense Gaylord Opryland Resort contains what appears to be a small town.

One wing of the immense Gaylord Opryland Resort contains what appears to be a small town. After four years Higley can finally find his way around--most of the time anyway.

It takes some effort to get to Nashville, not to mention the cost, but to me it’s worth the trouble. It’s neat to be surrounded, at least for a while, by folks who enjoy to same things as you do. And I still haven’t seen everything hundreds of exhibitors at the show have to offer to turkey hunters. For that reason, I plan to go back again next year. Maybe by then I’ll know which way is which inside the Gaylord!

As I said earlier, the convention and sports show was put on by the National Wild Turkey Federation. The NWTF is a nonprofit organization working on our behalf to promote hunting and habitat improvement across the country. Their motto, Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt pretty much tells the tale. Hunters with an eye on the future should seriously consider membership in this organization. Check them out at nwtf.org.

Author John Higley is a resident of Palo Cedro. His articles have appeared in outdoor magazines hundreds of times and his columns appear regularly at myoutdoorbuddy.com. Higley has written four books the latest of which “Successful Turkey Hunting” was published in May, 2014 by Skyhorse Publishing in New York. This hard cover, full color book is being sold at Barnes and Noble Book Stores and on Amazon. Autographed copies are available direct from John Higley, P.O. Box 120, Palo Cedro, CA 96073. Cost is $28.95 postage paid.

 

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