With spring turkey season just around the corner, it’s time for the annual National Wild Turkey Federation (www.nwtf.org) fundraising dinner hosted each year by the local Little Dixie Chapter of the NWTF.
Scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 4 at the Choctaw Event Center (located across from the Choctaw Casino Resort at 3702 Choctaw Road), the 2017 Hunting Heritage Banquet marks a special anniversary for the local Durant chapter.
“This is the chapter’s 20th year hosting our banquet and every year is better than the one before,” said Terry Bourne with the Durant NWTF committee. “It’s the best opportunity in town to meet other people who care about conservation while enjoying good food, good music and good fun.”
Bourne said that the doors to this year’s event open up at 5:30 p.m. for a social hour, followed by the dinner itself beginning at 7 p.m.
Throughout the evening, a number of family friendly games and raffles will be held that give attendees the chance to win a variety of prizes. In addition to the raffles and games, there will be a silent auction and a live auction as well.
Merchandise offered on the evening includes up to 22 firearms, a selection that includes a Beretta A300 shotgun, a Henry Silver Boy Grand Slam II .22LR lever action rifle, a Browning A-Bolt rifle and a Remington M-700 CDL rifle in 7mm Rem Mag.
Other items up for bid or available to win include other guns, outdoor gear, framed NWTF art prints, NWTF collectibles, sculptures, decorative items, home furnishings, and more.
Ticket prices are $50 for singles and $65 for couples with ticket prices including admission, dinner and a single one-year membership into the NWTF (including an annual subscription to the group’s Turkey Country magazine).
Bourne indicates that corporate sponsor tables (that seat eight people) are also available for the cost of $650.00 with the price including a corporate sponsor gift.
Tickets may be purchased online prior to the event by visiting the NWTF Web site at: http://your.nwtf.org/events/flyer.php?id=3601810-2017.
For tickets and/or information about the Little Dixie Chapter’s 2017 Hunting Heritage Banquet, contact Terry Bourne by phone at (580) 775-4545 or by e-mail at: [email protected]
Incidentally, monies raised by the Little Dixie NWTF dinner next Saturday evening will be used for various projects that both conserve wild turkeys and wildlife, as well as working to protect Oklahoma’s longstanding hunting heritage.
With the national organization’s current Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. campaign, NWTF officials hope to continue to increase the amount of viable habitat available for wild turkeys; to create additional hunters and conservation enthusiasts across the country; and to open up more hunting access on some 500,000 additional acres.
Here in the Sooner State, the Oklahoma State Chapter of the NWTF (www.oknwtf.com) hopes to work in that same direction by obtaining three objectives by the end of 2019.
Those include improving wild turkey and wildlife habitat on 100,000 acres of public and private land; helping to create 5,000 new hunters across the state; and working to create 10,000 acres of new hunting access on state and federal lands across Oklahoma.
Additionally, the Oklahoma State Chapter has worked with conservation partners to identify the state’s most critical focal landscapes, spots that are strategically important for the future of wild turkey and wildlife conservation and the state’s hunting heritage.
Those seven focal landscapes include two lying within a half-hour’s drive of Bryan County, the Pineywoods to the east of Durant along the Red River and the Central Red River region to the west of Lake Texoma.
All of this is designed to help the national NWTF organization continue its impressive work to protect our nation’s hunting heritage, to conserve and restore critical wildlife habitat and to ultimately restore wild turkey populations across the U.S.
With an estimated population of 135,000 turkeys (according to Realtree.com), the Sooner State is actually home to three of the nation’s four wild turkey subspecies, the Eastern, the Rio Grande and a tiny number of Merriam turkeys in the Panhandle’s Cimarron County.
While such numbers help to make the Sooner State one of the nation’s better places to hunt wild turkeys, it’s not enough for hunters and conservationists to fall back on and rest upon.
For turkey hunters across Oklahoma, the simple truth is that there remains much vital work to be done now and in the years to come, both in terms of habitat and hunting heritage.
Attending next weekend’s 20th annual Little Dixie NWTF fundraising dinner is a small step.
But it’s still an important one in the right direction.
Lynn Burkhead is Senior Writer for the Outdoor Channel, World Fishing Network and Sportsman Channel and lives in Denison, Texas