NWTF Convention Visitor's Guide

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If there was an event that could possibly send your anticipation for the upcoming spring turkey season into overdrive, the annual NWTF Convention is such an event.  Held in the luxurious Gaylord Opryland Hotel, the four day event is the perfect storm of everything pertaining to the sport and culture of turkey hunting, as over 30,000 turkey hunting enthusiasts visit the convention annually.  The convention centers around the exhibit hall, where over 650 booths filled with the best turkey hunting gear are housed.  While there, guests have the opportunity to rub elbows with legends such as Will Primos, Eddie Salter, and Ronnie ‘Cuz’ Strickland, as well as try out the latest products that can make them a better hunter this upcoming spring.

Also at the event are seminars from some of the top minds in the game, exciting calling contests featuring top callers like two-time champion Shane Hendershot, and banquets featuring entertainment such as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  Overall, the event is one you do not want to miss!

While the event is spectacular, the enormity of it can also be overwhelming.  Here are some tips on attending this years’ NWTF Convention!

Go on Friday

Friday is the first day that the exhibit hall is open to the public, and can be the best day to stroll the exhibit hall without heavy traffic.  The exhibit hall will begin to get congested in the afternoon hours on Friday leading up to the shoulder-to-shoulder, standing room only Saturday, so Friday morning may be your best bet on checking out all of the booths and talking with some of the pros uninhibited.

Try to stay at the hotel

The Gaylord Opryland Hotel is a remarkable facility, with three beautiful atriums surrounded by guest rooms with shops and restaurants mixed in for good measure.  While staying at the hotel can be expensive, it is worth the peace of mind knowing you realistically do not have to get into your car until it is time to depart.  The restaurants in the hotel are all relatively pricey, but again, consider the convenience that comes along with eating in the hotel versus having to drive elsewhere and eat.  The Jack Daniels Bar and Grill is a fun place to eat with your family or friends, and the Old Hickory Steakhouse located in the Delta Island is a great restaurant to take your spouse for a relaxing steak dinner.

Booths to hit up

The Mossy Oak booth is located in the center of the exhibit hall, adjacent to the NWTF’s Turkey Shoppe.  Half of the booth space will be a storefront and the other half will be an area to meet and greet celebs such as Toxey Haas, Ronnie ‘Cuz’ Strickland, and the “Turkey Thugs.”  Around the corner will be the Ol’Tom Techical Turkey booth, where you can buy some of the finest turkey vests made.

Calling contests you don’t want to miss

The Senior Division Finals are the Super Bowl of turkey calling, where the best turkey callers will square off for the chance to be crowned the Grand National Calling Championship.  Hunters can learn much about the vocalizations of the wild turkey by attending the Senior Division Finals, which begins at roughly 2 PM CST on Saturday.  The Head to Head Championship, which was unveiled last year and takes place at 1 PM CST on Friday, is also exciting as it pits callers in a bracketed challenge against one another.  If you are looking for a fun and informative contest that puts you in the middle of real hunting situations, then be sure to attend the Team Challenge on Friday morning at 9.  In the Team Challenge, two hunters simulate scenarios commonly found in the turkey woods, which can help educate you on how the pros approach certain situations.

Learning from the best

The seminars that take place over the course of the weekend serve as a virtual crash course on turkey hunting from myriad of the sport’s top minds.  Chris Parrish’s seminar (Friday, 1:30-2:30 in Bayou room C) on turkey calling secrets will be a seminar you will not want to miss, as the tips from the champion caller are sure to entertain and educate you on how to replicate the vocalizations of the wild turkey.  Wild Turkey Report contributor Marty Fischer never disappoints, and his seminar on hunting tough turkeys (11 AM-Noon in Bayou rooms A-B) will give you some insight into bagging those turkeys that keep us all up at night.

Welcome!

This years’ Welcome Party sponsored by Chevrolet will be an event you don’t want to miss, with entertainment from the timeless Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and supporting acts including Darryl Worley and Andy Griggs.  The Welcome Party, dubbed “The Champions of Music City,” will begin at 5:45 PM on Thursday evening, and seating is reserved, so be sure to get tickets as soon as possible.

Admission advice

Like last year, admission to the exhibit hall is free to all JAKES and regular NWTF members.  If you are not a member, then three day general admission is $60.  You would be best served to join the NWTF beforehand.

So there you have it!  If you are not attending the 2012 NWTF Convention, please reconsider, as it will be a great event and one that will enhance your passion for the sport as well as make you a better hunter.  For more information on the 2012 NWTF Conference, please visit www.nwtf.org!
Author:
Wild Turkey Report Staff
Wild Turkey Report is the internet's new destination for information on the sport of turkey hunting. Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wildturkeyreport and on Twitter @wildturkeyreprt!
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