By Josh Boyd
If you are a die-hard turkey hunter, few destinations are capable of rendering such enjoyment as the annual NWTF Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Hosted at the spacious Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, this yearly gathering is a full-on celebration of anything and everything turkey hunting.
Every February, droves of call makers, apparel companies, hunting accessory manufacturers, competition callers, taxidermists, and outdoor television personalities make their way to Nashville to share in the splendor.
The 2020 NWTF Convention was no exception, as turkey hunters from across the nation assembled to celebrate the pursuit of the wild turkey. As is typical for the convention, calling competitions were held across a range of classes, taxidermists displayed their work for a panel of judges, and several seminars were held.
As always, the competition was fierce among all divisions of the Grand National Calling Championships. Legendary caller, Matt Van Cise pulled out all the stops, winning both the Friction and Senior Division Championships.
Terrance Williamson and Hunter Wallis took first place in the Team Air and Friction Division. In the Gobbling Championship Competition, David Madison took first place, while Scott Ellis was named Owl Division Champion.
Not to be outdone, our nation’s top up and coming callers showed their prowess during the convention’s youth calling competitions. Bo Bartlebaugh took first place in the 10 and under Poult Division, while Ethan Jones and Matthew Presley won the Junior and Intermediate Divisions, respectively.
This year’s convention also saw stiff competition in both the whitetail deer and turkey taxidermy contests. Among the winners in the turkey competition were Ryan Scearce (Master of Masters Division), Tim Knight (Master’s Division), Josh West (Professional/Commercial Division), and Dustin Vance (Amateur Division).
Winners in the whitetail deer taxidermy contests included Butch Irwin (Master of Masters Division), Jonathan Wyatt (Masters Division), Cody Hodge (Professional Division), David Daniels (Commercial Division/Amateur Division), and Avery Lamb (Youth Division).
This year’s convention also featured several seminars that delved into an array of topics about turkey hunting and tips for bagging more gobblers. Team Primos held one such seminar, as they discussed mistakes to avoid when attempting to elevate your turkey hunting success to the next level.
Other seminars included Eddie Salter and Harold Knight’s presentation on locating distant gobblers, Brenda Valentine’s segment on encouraging female participation in hunting, and a speech/question and answer segment with the Bone Collectors, among several others.
There was also much to see and do at the convention outside of the numerous seminars and competitions. The facility’s 260,000 square foot exhibit hall was filled to the brim with display booths of every conceivable type, offering hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts access to a wide array of products and services.
From purchasing a new call to take to the spring turkey woods, to booking a hunt in a faraway destination, opportunity existed in nearly every realm at this year’s convention.
The list of call manufacturers that were at the show was staggering, with privately-owned custom call companies and several well-known production-grade powerhouses all throwing their hat in the ring to vie for the attention of hunters, who sought out the latest market offering that would bring the gobblers running.
Some of the better-known call manufacturers at the convention included Primos, Hunter Specialties, Quaker Boy, and Woodhaven calls.
However, a number of the often lesser-known custom call manufacturers shined brightly on the exhibit hall floor, showing consumers that they had just what a savvy hunter needed to talk turkey with a high degree of proficiency.
If new camouflage or other hunting apparel was on your list of needs or wants for the upcoming season, the 2020 NWTF Convention was just the place to find what you were looking for as well. With companies such as Mossy Oak, NOMAD, Longleaf Camo, and Lacrosse Footwear on hand, hunting apparel was far from scarce, and various sizes, styles, and patterns were available for purchase by the masses.
Firearm and ammunition manufacturers also had a strong showing at this year’s convention. Exhibitors included Winchester, Mossberg, Remington, Savage Arms, and Benelli USA, as well as Hevi-Shot, Federal Ammunition, and Winchester Ammunition. Several shotgun choke manufacturers were also present, including Carlson Chokes, Trulock Chokes, and Indian Creek Shooting Systems.
For those that hunt multiple species of game yearly, the convention did not disappoint in exhibitor diversity either. No matter, whether you turkey, deer, predator, waterfowl or elk hunt, there were abundant offerings for hunters from every walk of life.
Companies such as Fox Pro were present for those that love to pursue coyotes and other predators, while call manufacturers such as Zink, Field-Proven, and RNT were present to cater to die-hard waterfowl hunters. Deer hunters were also treated to a wide selection of grunt calls, blinds, and stands as well.
Overall, the 2020 NWTF Convention appeared to be a great time for all who attended, as it always seems to be every year. If you were not able to attend this year’s show, or have never been to the yearly NWTF Convention in the past, this is truly a trip to add to any outdoor enthusiast’s bucket list.
Above all else, it is surely wondrous to see such a large number of men, women, and children assembled together under one roof to share their love for the outdoors. The camo-clad passion contained within this singular venue during the weekend of the annual convention knows no bounds and shows just why hunting, fishing, and the shooting sports are still America’s great pastimes.