Turkey Hunts, Conservation, and the National Wild Turkey Federation
Do you enjoy hunting wild turkeys? Or, are you thinking about taking up the sport of turkey hunting? If so, you should know about The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).
Even if you are familiar with the NWTF, you may not know about all of their accomplishments, projects, and public outreach with the mission of improving wild turkey populations, wildlife habitat, and hunting opportunities.
The Beginnings of the National Wild Turkey Federation
The NWTF began operation in 1973, founded as a non-profit conservation and education organization with the mission of increasing wild turkey populations from their low levels at that time while also preserving the tradition and heritage of turkey hunting.
Since its inception, the NWTF has gathered more than 250,000 volunteers and members in 14 countries and worked with wildlife organizations, government agencies, and private businesses to restore wild turkey habitats on public and private land, resulting in current populations of about 7 million birds, up from an estimated low of 1.5 million in 1973.
NWTF and their partners have protected and improved over 17,000,000 acres of turkey habitat, spending $372 million to do it.
The NWTF is dedicated to using sound, scientific methods for managing and protecting the wild turkey. A technical committee of biologists specializing in this species regularly meet and recommend management strategies and conduct field research.
The NWTF has always included as a part of its mission educating the public about conservation, responsible hunting, and protecting this native bird and its habitat.
NWTF Public Outreach and Conservation Education Programs
The NWTF makes a special effort to help women, children, and people with disabilities acquire skills and experience in the outdoors.
JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) is an NWTF program for young people up to age 12, teaching about stewardship of natural resources, animal habitat management concepts, and providing young people with an opportunity for fishing and hiking adventures.
JAKES Xtreme is NWTF group for teens between the ages of 13 and 18 with an added emphasis on challenging outdoor experience during camping and fishing excursions where tom calls and plant identification are part of the curriculum.
JAKES Take Aim is designed for teens age 17 and under who want to learn the basics of target shooting and shotgun safety using clay targets in a fun learning atmosphere with skilled instructors.
JAKES Country Magazine is a quarterly print publication for children available for $10 per year.
Wheelin’ Sportsmen is a fishing, hunting, and target practice program for disabled people, organized through local NWTF chapters.
Women in the Outdoors provides outdoor recreational experiences and education for women.
More Places to Hunt is a hunting land acquisition program working with public and private landowners to increase places for hunting.
NWTF Interagency Conservation Programs
Making Tracks is a cooperative effort between NWTF and state and federal wildlife agencies to regenerate wild turkey habitat and populations by trapping and relocating birds to suitable new areas.
The Hunting Heritage Super Fund is another joint project which helps with planning new hunting areas, planting wildlife forage crops, developing wildlife water sources, and clearing brush for fire prevention.
The North American Wild Turkey Management Plan identifies suitable wild turkey habitat in North America and has helped introduce these birds to over 2,000,000 acres of land.
Go for the Gould’s is a collaboration between the NWTF and the Arizona Game and Fish Department for moving the Gould species of wild turkey to mountain regions of southern Arizona where this bird once thrived.
Project HELP is a program designed by NWTF to assist landowners in managing and improving their property for the benefit of wildlife by offering discounts on seedlings and seeds for wildlife-beneficial plants.
Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt is a ten-year plan developed by the NWTF to conserve four million additional acres of wildlife habitat, recruit 1.5 million new hunters, and open access to an additional half million acres of hunting land.
NWTF also promotes family hunting trips through its Families Afield Program and offers academic scholarships to youth each year in partnership with Future Farmers of America (FFA).
As you can see, the National Wild Turkey Federation is a busy organization dedicated to preserving the wild turkey, wildlife habitat, and hunting opportunities for the public. To find out about their programs, membership, volunteer opportunities, and more, contact one of the many local NWTF chapters across the United States.