National Wild Turkey Foundation launches golf tournament

In conjunction with the annual Hunting Heritage Banquet in Hulett, the National Wild Turkey Federation will this year be holding its inaugural “Conservation Cup” tournament and is looking for golfers interested in competing for an impressive list of prizes.

“The first place team, all four people get a rifle. The second place team all get a Yeti® cooler and the third place team get a free round of course at the golf course,” says Jason Tarwater, NWTF Regional Director.

“We came up with this as a way to maybe get more people to the banquet afterwards and also as an additional fundraiser for us. Golfing is something a lot of people do, so we’re trying to cater towards the crowd.”

The tournament will take place on August 12 and will also be an opportunity for avid golfers who don’t have a membership to the Golf Club at Devils Tower to try out their swing on the course.

“The golf club is completely private; to play on it, you have to be a member already. This is one of the only ways that you can play on it if you’re not a member,” Tarwater nods.

“We’re looking for anyone who is interested in putting a four-person team together and also hole sponsors. We’d like to fill up the entire course with a sponsor on each hole.”

All sponsors will have their business name displayed on the course and will be listed in the event literature. Several levels of sponsorship are available, each bringing benefits from receiving credit for key components of the event such as the lunch or awards, reserved tables at the banquet and special recognition at the awards presentation.

All sponsors for the banquet and tournament will also be placed in a drawing to win a shotgun with their business name or logo engraved onto the stock.

For those interested in the tournament but unsure whether they will have a team of four, there is a possibility of teaming up with other solo golfers.

“We’ll take names and information if we have enough that we can put teams together,” says Tarwater, warning that he cannot guarantee a team.

All players will also be invited to the banquet at the end of the day to enjoy the prime rib dinner.

Proceeds from both events will support the NWTF’s activities to conserve the wild turkey and preserve our hunting heritage, plenty of which have taken place in this area, Tarwater says.

“In the past, we have invested a lot of money into the Black Hills area in general, because there is really good turkey hunting opportunity here and there are a lot of people who come from out of state to turkey hunt in the Black Hills,” he says.

“We have goals that are just based in Wyoming and what we’re focused on in the state. We’ve done a ton of forest management stuff with Forest Service partnerships and recently we put together an initiative we call ‘Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt’.”

The initiative aims, over a ten-year period, to improve the quality of 15,000 forested acres, restore 5000 riparian acres, increase winter food availability for all wildlife and save the hunt by increasing hunter safety classes, helping to provide additional hunting access and recruiting new hunters.

“We’re not focused just on turkeys, we’re focusing on all habitat, whether it’s stream-side, forest, grassland, and then public access, which is becoming a huge deal, especially out in the west,” he adds.

“We’ve given money to a couple of forest thinning projects. A lot of times, when you go in and do thinning, you get invasive species, so we’ve given money for herbicide application or planting native species back in.”

The NWTF also contributes to Wyoming’s Access Yes program, which keeps acres open for hunting. Tarwater comes from Kansas, he says, where there is very little public access unless you have “permission – or a lot of money”.

“It’s nice out here that people see the importance of it,” he says.

Recruiting new hunters to the tradition is also an important goal, he says. NWTF aims to encourage young hunters out into the field for the first time, women hunters to try the sport and men who have either never hunted or ceased to hunt to take it up again.

“We’re big advocates of shooting sports. When it comes to nonprofits, we are the biggest sponsor of the National 4-H Shooting Sports competition in Alaska every year,” continues Tarwater.

The NWTF local chapter in Hulett is also seeking interested members of the community to join them.

“We’re always looking for volunteers,” he says. “Right now, two guys in Hulett are tackling all of this, unselfishly giving up a lot of their time to keep this going and hopefully make it a success.”

If you are interested in joining the Hulett committee in preparation for the event – and any other activities the committee decides to pursue – or taking part in the golf tournament or banquet, contact Tarwater at 785-221-6515; Clayton Bischoff at 605-210-2035 or claytonbischoff@hotmail.com; or Joe Penning at 605-210-3262.

By Sarah Pridgeon