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Nashville Revisited

here's nothing quite like being surrounded by thousands of your best turkey hunting friends to get you fired up for spring turkey hunting, which is just around the corner. I realized that again on Thursday, February 11, when I went to Nashville to attend the fortieth annual National Wild Turkey Federation Convention and Sports Show.

The convention is held in the spectacular Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. All under roof, the Gaylord has several wings and hundreds of rooms. The interior houses a mini-town, an indoor river complete with boat tours, waterfalls, posh restaurants, and amazing tropical landscaping. Even after being there several times, there are some hidden corners of the place I haven’t seen.

The Gaylord houses amazing tropical landscaping. photo by John Higley
The Gaylord houses amazing tropical landscaping.

It is not inexpensive to stay at the Gaylord, but I was only there three nights, and I shared the expenses of a room with my friend Ron Martin who is from Santa Clara. I met Ron years ago at one of my hunting seminars at a Sacramento sports show, and we’ve been friends ever since.

Visitors can take a boat ride through the Gaylord on this indoor river. Photo by John Higley
Visitors can take a boat ride through the Gaylord on this indoor river.

My main reason for attending the show each year is to come face to face with some of the turkey hunting gurus that I interview during the year for the stories I write. I’ve been writing about turkey hunting for 45 years, and I’ve hunted with several of the guys, some of whom are now seen regularly on television. They include Eddie Salter of the Turkey Man series, Turkey Thug host Paul Butski and Zink Call’s Matt Morrett, host of Avian X. Other guys that I look forward to seeing each year are Preston Pittman of Pittman’s Game Calls, Chris Kirby of Quaker Boy Calls, Alex Rutledge of Bloodlines television and Ray Eye. Eye is a far reaching seminar speaker, producer of the best turkey hunting DVDs, book author and host of his own radio program in St. Louis.

John Higley author, and Eddie Salter
One of the guys I met at the sports show was Eddie Salter, known as the Turkey Man on television.
author, John Higley and Paul Butski of Maestro Game Calls, photo by John Higley,
One of my oldest acquaintances in the world of turkey hunting is Paul Butski of Maestro Game Calls who is a host of Turkey Thugs television. I hunted in Alabama with him around 1990.

I’m always apprehensive about leaving home and flying cross country, but, as usual, I’m glad that I went. It helps that my flights in both directions were all on time, and I didn’t max my credit card out. Now, back in the real world of work, bills and chores, I’m eagerly looking forward to April and turkey hunting here at home. As the general season draws near I’ll write down some more thoughts on turkey hunting, and let you in on them.

Preston Pittman, of Pittman Game Calls, signs another autograph for a fan. photo by John Higley,
Preston Pittman, of Pittman Game Calls, signs another autograph for a fan.

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.

author, John Higley and Alex Rutledge of Bloodlines television, photo by John Higley,
Alex Rutledge of Bloodlines television is always at the Nashville show.

There are 30 chapters in California, including, no doubt, one near you.

Hunters who care about the future of all hunting should join this organization. Check them out at

Author and writer John Higley is a resident of Palo Cedro. His articles have appeared in outdoor magazines hundreds of times and his columns appear regularly at 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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