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Back To Nashville

ometimes I wonder just how far I’ll go to chase my interest in turkey hunting. Apparently pretty far, as I just got back from Nashville where I attended, for the third time, the annual Convention and Sports Show put on by the National Wild Turkey Federation.

I arrived on February 13 and got settled into the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, where I had a room for three nights. I’ve been there before, but I still got lost a few times after leaving my room and winding up on the wrong floor or the wrong exit while learning my way around. Bear in mind, I wasn’t the only one confused. The Gaylord is a huge facility all under glass with several wings, a mini town, restaurants, a convention center, jungle-like tropical plants, waterfalls and rivers on which guided boat tours are held.

The Gaylord facility, Gaylord Restaurant, Gaylord Hotel in Nashville
One of the restaurants inside the Gaylord facility where the convention has been held for several years.

Okay, Higley, why did you go really? Frankly, I’ve asked myself that question a number of times and just saying because it’s fun isn’t a good answer. Actually, I went because I know a lot of folks in the turkey hunting business, some as manufacturers and others as personalities in the outdoor field. I’ve been writing articles about turkey hunting since 1971 and recently completed a second book about the pastime. It’s called "Successful Turkey Hunting," and according to Skyhorse Publishing it will be out by May 6. I can’t wait to see it myself!

John Higley standing next to Matt Morrett of Zink Calls and Avian X television, in Nashville
Many well known personaities from the turkey world were in attendance including Matt Morrett of Zink Calls and Avian X television. After hunting with him in Missouri last spring I can tell you he's the real deal.

A good time was had by all in Nashville. I hobnobbed with guys like Matt Morrett of Zink Calls and Avian X television (I hunted with Matt in Missouri last spring), Chris Kirby of Quaker Boy, Paul Butski of Maestro Game Calls and Turkey Thugs television, Eddie Salter host of Turkey Man television, Preston Pittman of Pittman Game Calls, and the list goes on.

john higley standing next to Eddie Salter from Turkey Man on TV
Known on television as the Turkey Man, Eddie Salter, seen here with me, always has a ready smile and a kind word for the likes of me.

It amazes me to see the growth of the turkey hunting industry. When I first started out in California you had to look far and wide for one or two turkey calls and most sporting goods stores didn’t have any. I bought my first box call by mail order from M.L.Lynch, and it was about the only one available at that time. When you could find them, primitive diaphragm mouth calls had, if you can believe it, lead frames. And today we think lead based paint is bad!

Anyway, with the still growing interest in turkey hunting nationwide, things have certainly changed. There were hundreds of vendors at the convention and a large percentage of them were call makers and manufacturers of other gadgets you simply must have to have to be a successful turkey hunter. Or, so they claim. The real need for some of that stuff is debatable.

What isn’t debatable is the interest in turkey hunting that ranges from New York to California. Speaking of which, the general spring season here in the Golden State will start on the last weekend of March. In Nashville I was surrounded by turkeys without feathers (just kidding).

In a few weeks I hope they’re replaced by the real thing.

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.

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