We recently attended the turkey hunting seminar at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, NC. This seminar was one of 11 offered by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) at no cost to the public.
We were lucky enough that this seminar was pretty close to where we live, and the time the seminar started worked for both of our schedules! The seminar ran from 6 pm to 9 pm with opportunities for questions at the end. Our seminar was let by Hunting Heritage Biologist, Walter “Deet” James, a lively man from Pennsylvania with an obvious passion for hunting. There were also several members from a local chapter of the NWTF the “Cold Mountain Strutters” who assisted by demonstrating calls, bringing some of their gear, and providing anecdotes of hunts that they’ve been on and what’s worked and not worked for them.
Although the seminar was three hours, the time flew by. Amount of information covered was vast! Deet and the folks from the local chapter of the NWTF talked about everything from hunting tactics, calls, what a hunt looks like, and how to dress and eat a bird. Even though I’ve turkey hunted before, and done a fair amount of research into turkey hunting, I left with a lot of new information and tactics I look forward to trying this coming season.
I’m looking forward to hunting this year because I feel like I have more “tools” in my turkey hunting “toolbox” after attending this seminar. For example, my first, and only season so far, of turkey season I hunted fields only and this year I’d like to mix it up with some woods hunting. I didn’t consider hunting in anything but a field and I think that may have taken away potential opportunities from me. But, I know that hunting is a process where you should always be learning from your own experiences and from information that you may learn through research or from other hunters.
I enjoyed the breadth of information about what different turkey calls mean, and how to make them on different types of calls. I appreciated Deet talking about “soft sounds,” walking, rustling in leaves, etc. I had not considered working these into my hunting strategy for turkey, and until this seminar I had only thought about using pot calls or diaphragm calls.
Overall, the seminar was great for all levels of hunters as well. Being relatively new, I didn’t feel overwhelmed or like the information was going in one ear and out the other. My boyfriend has been hunting turkey for years now and he was engaged the entire time and left with some new perspective and some questions that he’s going to follow up on with Deet.
At the end of the seminar we actually got an opportunity to talk to Deet one-on-one. I asked his permission to take a picture of him for this blog and that drove the conversation. He was incredibly personable and talked to us about everything from brooding, the future of hunting and conservation, to the Pennsylvania Tuxedo. He even offered for us to email him if we ever had any future questions. By the end we had stayed until about 10 pm talking with Deet.
This seminar was an awesome experience. If you live in North Carolina I highly suggest getting on the NCWRC email list so you don’t miss out on opportunities offered throughout the state that promote education. If you don’t live in NC, I recommend checking out your state’s fish and game website to see what opportunities are offered by your state.
One final push for cool initiatives happening in the state of North Carolina that I learned out in the seminar… The R3 initiative; hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation. This initiative is incredibly important to not only hunters but to conservationists as well. If you were a new hunter or brought a new hunter you got a cool hat for free as a part of this initiative. We also had an opportunity to sign pledges at the end of the seminar to mentor at least one person this year.
I learned that the NCWRC also offers apprentice permits to persons 16 years of age or older. This means, a person can purchase a hunting license and hunt without taking the hunter safety education course as long as they are hunting with an adult who is licensed and within sight and hearing distance. This is an awesome opportunity to get others involved who may want to try hunting but don’t know where to start and encourages hunting mentoring.
The apprentice permit is a part of the Hunting Heritage Program. The Hunting Heritage Program was developed to help maintain North Carolina’s rich hunting heritage and ensure conservation for generations to come. This program came about from a 2005 “think-tank” workshop and evolved in 2007 to the Hunting Heritage Program Strategic Plan.
I’m so appreciative for the NCWRC for offering opportunities like this seminar to the public at no cost. I can’t wait to see what else the NCWRC offers and continue to get involved!