National Wild Turkey Federation CEO weighs in on gun control debate

The head of the National Wild Turkey Federation has issued a letter supporting the role of hunters in the debate about gun control that’s currently brewing in Congress.

George C. Thornton, CEO of the NWTF, said hunters were the “original conservationists,” and the preservation of the country’s hunting heritage and conservation remain intertwined.

Here’s an excerpt from Thornton’s letter:

“The right to bear arms is another pillar supporting the continuation of the hunting tradition. It is critical that we not lose sight of this as the gun control debate takes place. We must remember that the efforts to preserve our hunting heritage can be undone if we add new barriers to hunting by limiting the tools that the vast majority of sportsmen depend on to hunt.

“The NWTF remains committed to protecting our hunting rights and, as a result, is committed to supporting the protection of our Second Amendment rights. Modern sporting rifles are an important tool for many hunters, and the NWTF works to ensure hunters can continue to use modern firearms. There has been a lot of talk about “assault weapons” and semi-automatic firearms recently. As active shooters and hunters, we know that AR-15 style firearms and .223 caliber rifles have become common among predator, small game and hog hunters, as well as recreational shooters. We will fight efforts to portray these firearms in a negative light.

“These inalienable rights are not only critical to the preservation of a free society, ensuring that Americans have the ability to protect themselves and their families, but are inseparable from this nation’s hunting tradition. By staying focused on the principles our founders established, we will protect the things most important to us and future generations.

“In these times it is important that sportsmen raise our voices together to be heard. Thank you for supporting the NWTF as we work to protect our hunting heritage and our right to utilize the firearms that make sense for our chosen sports of shooting and hunting.”

Cancellations roll in after Pennsylvania sports show bans display of rifles

The National Wild Turkey Federation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are among the organizations, companies and celebrities who have withdrawn from a Pennsylvania sports show after Reed Exhibitions, the show’s organizer, banned the display of modern sporting rifles.

The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show is scheduled for Feb. 2-10 in Harrisburg, Pa.

In a news release, the NWTF said it has canceled its booth space and will be rescheduling a NWTF-sanctioned turkey calling contest that was scheduled to take place during the sports show once it finds a suitable venue.

“We feel strongly about the importance of the Second Amendment in pursuit of our mission of preserving our hunting heritage,” Skip Motts, president of the NWTF’s Pennsylvania State Chapter, said in a statement. “We reached out to our chapters from across the state and received overwhelming support for taking this stand.”

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation issued the following statement after its decision to withdraw from the Pennsylvania show:

“Due to recent decisions instituted by Reed Exhibitions regarding the disallowing of legal modern sporting rifles, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will withdraw as an exhibitor and conductor of the elk calling contest from the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Pennsylvania. RMEF believes the actions taken by Reed, a British company, are detrimental to the Second Amendment and our right as Americans to bear arms.

“RMEF reached this decision after careful deliberations and taking into account the stance of our members, volunteers, industry partners and fellow hunters. We urge Reed Exhibitions to reconsider its policies to avoid a divisive and political atmosphere so RMEF can take part in an event that generates needed revenue for important on-the-ground conservation and hunting heritage projects in the region.”

The Outdoor Wire Digital Network this morning included a list of the organizations, companies and individuals that are boycotting the show in its daily online newsletter. Here’s the list as of this morning:

Abner Druckenmiller

Ambush Firearms

American Whitetails of PA

Antler Insanity

Appalachian Big Game TV

Arrowhead Outdoors

Athens Archery

Atlantic Tactical

Avian-X Decoys

Bangin Redhedz

Bear Archery

Blitz TV

The Bear Whisperer

Bob Mercier

Bohning Archery

Bone Collectors

Boondock Outdoors

Bowfreakz.com

BowHunter Planet

Bowhunting.com

Bow Life, LLC

Cabela’s

Campbell Cameras

Camo Addiction

CanCooker

Chris Brackett

Cold Steel Knives

Continental Divide Outfitters

Cross Canyon Arms

Cutting Edge Bullets

Dead Ringer

Deer and Deer Hunting.com

Direct Action Tactical Firearms

Domari Nolo Defense Consulting

Dominator 365

Down N Dirty Outdoors

DuckWater Boats

Eastern Chapter Wild Sheep Foundation

Eastern Outdoors

Eddie Salter

Family Traditions TV

Farmland Trophies Outfitting

Firearms Industry Consulting Group

Foiles Migrators

Forbes Turkey Calls

FoxPro Game Calls

Fred Eichler

Full Circle Outdoors

Ghost River Outfitters

Gone Wild Outdoors

Gut-N-Tag

Haley Heath

Heartland Whitetails

Hevi-Shot

High Lonesome Outfitters

HookHunt

Hoyt

Hunters and Guides Connection

Hunter Safety Systems

H.S. Specialties

Hunter’s Specialties

International Bowhunting Organization

IceHole Coolers

IScope

Jay Gregory

Jim Shockey

Keystone Country Store

Keystone Elk Country Alliance

King of the Mountain Inc.

Kinsey’s Outdoors

KodaBow

Lancaster Archery Supply

Larry Weishuhn

Lee & Tiffany Lakosky

Major League Bowhunter

Men in Treestands Productions

Midwest Whitetail Adventures

Muddy Outdoors

Dominance is Everything Hunting System

Matt Morett

Mountain Dog Chews

NasHunt Outdoors

National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF)

Nature Blinds

Northern Hideaway Outfitters

Open Season TV

Outdoor Channel Outfitters

Outdoor Edge Knives

Ozonics Hunting

PA Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs

PA Taxidermy Association

PA Trappers Association

Pat & Nicole Reever

Pat Strawser Custom Calls

Pipeline Ridge Hunting Preserve

Primal Urge Outdoors

Primos Hunting Calls

PSE Archery

Radical Hunter

Ralph & Vicki Cianciarulo

Ranew’s Outdoor Equipment

Revolution Hunting

Rhino Outdoors

Rick White

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF)

Rougeaux Taxidermy

Savage Outdoors

SecureIt Tactical

Skull Shine

Smith & Wesson

Southern Game Calls

Spook Spann

Sportsmen of North America TV

Stan Potts

Stay Ready Inc.

Stokerized Stabilizers

Susquehanna River Waterfowlers Association

Table Mountain Outfitters

The Warmbag

The Sportsman’s Shop

TNT Archery

Tom Dokken

Tough Country Products

Trent Cole

Trijicon Inc.

Trop Gun Shop

Turnbull Manufacturing

Whitetail Bosses

Whitetail Freaks

Whitetail Heaven Outdoors

Wild Outdoors

Wired Outdoors

Woodcock Limited of PA

Wyvern Creations

X-Stand Treestands

Zink Calls

Zook Cabins

2 Million Bullets

24-7 Hunting TV

NWTF offers nonresident N.D. spring turkey tag by auction

If you’re a North Dakota nonresident looking to hunt wild turkeys in North Dakota this spring, here’s your chance to take advantage of one-of-its-kind opportunity.

North Dakota doesn't offer nonresident spring wild turkey tags, but one of the tags now is available by auction through North Dakota chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation. (Photo by Craig Bihrle, N.D. Game and Fish Department)

North Dakota, the only state with a spring turkey season that isn’t open to nonresidents, has donated one of the nonresident permits to the National Wild Turkey Federation. In a news release, the NWTF said it now is now is auctioning off the tag, and the winning nonresident bidder will have the opportunity to bag a turkey on either public or private land.

Here’s a closer look at the program:

- The tag is good for one North Dakota spring turkey and is good for the entire season — April 14-May 20.

- The permit is good for open turkey hunting unit in the state.

- The tag is the only one of its kind available to nonresidents on public or private land.

- Additional state general game license(s) are required at a cost of about $15 to $20.

n This is a non-guided hunt, but assistance in planning, including general hunting areas and lodging options, will be available from North Dakota NWTF state chapter board members.

- The winning bidder is responsible for travel, food, lodging and all other costs.

To place a bid on the nonresident tag, email Marc Kurz of Grand Forks, a member of the Grand Gobblers Chapter of the NWTF, at mkurz@undeerc.org. The auction will end at 8 p.m. CST on March 25, and bidders can review bids here:

In related news, the Grand Gobblers NWTF chapter is holding its annual banquet at 5:30 p.m. March 30 in the Grand Forks Ramada Inn. Kurz also is the go-to guy for info on that event.