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New hunting group picks up where the National Wild Turkey Federation left off

A new not-for-profit, all-Canadian organization is trying to fill the gap left by the National Wild Turkey Federation, which suspended its fundraising operations in Canada in January of this year.

Launched in March, the Canadian Wild Turkey Federation is still in the early stages, but its board of directors is committed to creating an effective and engaged national group. There’s certainly no shortage of hunters looking to target the bird. For example, after many years of lobbying, New Brunswick hunters just learned in mid-August that they will be getting their own hunting season for wild turkeys in the spring of 2015. Wild turkeys are also present in eastern Ontario, southern Quebec and the southern-most parts of the four western provinces.

“[The NWTF] just up and left and we had all these mentor programs, kids’ programs, womens’ programs, habitat and apple-tree-planting programs that we’d been doing in eastern Canada since 2001,” says one of the CWTF’s three directors, Terry Smith. “We just said ‘we can’t let this happen’ so we decided to pick up the pieces and started the CWTF.”

Currently, there are between 200 and 300 CWTF members nationwide, with the exception of P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador and the Territories. However, Smith is hoping that a planned series of banquets in 2015 will increase the group’s numbers and reach. A single adult membership costs $35 and new members receive a newsletter, a carrying card, a decal, and the knowledge that they’re a part of an organization that’s making a difference in Canada, Smith says. “We’re taking our time and we’re trying to do it right,” he says. “It’s a big undertaking because we’re all volunteers.” Indeed, he notes that the group is very open to collaboration with other organizations. “There’s no such thing as a competitor when it comes to this. We’re all in it for the same goal.”

According to the group’s website, its purpose is to:

  • Promote the establishment, restoration, preservation and sustainable management of wild turkeys and their habitats in Canada.
  • Develop programs and engage in projects to establish, restore, preserve and enhance wild turkey populations and their habitats.
  • Promote responsible wild turkey hunting practices, traditions and heritage. Work with governments, organizations and others to develop programs and engage in projects to protect and enhance wildlife habitat.
  • Promote conservation, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor and wildlife oriented activities. Host, sponsor and promote educational and outdoor events for members and the public.

Another part of the group’s mission is to recruit and/or retain hunters. “There are a lot of kids who want to get into hunting or older people getting back into hunting and we want to be there to support them,” Smith says. To that end, the CWTF has sponsored young hunters to go on turkey hunting trips and supported a group of women hunters on a bear hunt in Nova Scotia.

“We’re in it because we’re passionate about wild turkey and wildlife,” Smith says. The group’s habitat work, for example, is beneficial to more than just turkey. This year, the group’s members planted  600 apple trees in Nova Scotia, which will inevitably benefit deer, grouse and pheasant, too. Says Smith: “We’re trying to encourage better habitat for wildlife and in turn have a better place to hunt in the future.”

The next CWTF banquet is on September 26 in Truro, Nova Scotia. For more information on the organization check out its Facebook page.

New hunter Jessica Mattinson and her mentor Jim Westcott at the CWTF Hoot and Shoot annual Wild Turkey Youth Camp in the Spring of 2014
New hunter Jessica Mattinson and her mentor Jim Westcott at the CWTF Hoot and Shoot annual Wild Turkey Youth Camp in the Spring of 2014

Bob Sexton

Bob Sexton

Growing up in Gander, Newfoundland, and Peterborough, Ontario, Outdoor Canada's managing editor Bob Sexton jumped at every chance to wet a line and head afield. After spending half of the 1990s working as a tour guide in Latin America, he completed a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University in 2001 and was hired on as Outdoor Canada's assistant editor. Since joining the magazine, he has won two Outdoor Writers of Canada awards, in 2008 and 2011, and contributed to numerous National Magazine Award winning or nominated stories. Sexton is the past president of the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors.