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Happy Anniversary, Canadian Wild Turkey Federation!

In January of 2014, we received the bad news that the National Wild Turkey Federation was ceasing their operations in Canada. It was announced with little fanfare or emotion, after nearly 20 years operating north of the border. The first chapter began in 1996 in the province of Ontario. NWTF involvement in the country actually goes back further than that and they were one of several partners involved in the reintroduction of Wild Turkeys in Norfolk County, Ontario, way back in 1984!

Since the first wild turkey hunting season was introduced in Ontario in 1987, thanks to habitat improvement projects, natural migration, as well as “trap and transfer” programs, there are now seasons in four additional provinces. And yet despite their history, they left with a simple announcement that they were “ceasing fundraising activities in Canada.”

When NWTF ceased in the country there was a void left behind, as many chapters across most of the provinces were left wondering what to do next. Into this uncertainty came the Canadian Wild Turkey Federation, which officially began operations in March of 2014.

This past year was a year of tremendous growth as the group is now established with chapters all across the country, in nearly all the provinces in Canada. This incredible growth speaks to the fact that the Canadian Wild Turkey Federation is about more than just hunting turkeys. Many of the areas with local chapters do not even have wild turkeys and may never have wild turkeys!  Some of these areas are simply outside their normal climate, and yet members in these places are still interested in being involved with the organization and the good work that they do.  This speaks a lot to what they stand for.

As exhibited on their website, the CWTF is built with six goals:

  1. To promote the establishment, restoration, preservation and sustainable management of wild turkeys and their habitats in Canada.
  2. To develop programs and engage in projects to establish, restore, preserve and enhance wild turkey hunting practices, traditions and heritage.
  3. To promote responsible wild turkey hunting practices, traditions and heritage.
  4. To work with Governments, organizations and others to develop programs and engage in projects to protect and enhance wildlife habitat.
  5. To promote conservation, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor and wildlife oriented activities.
  6. To host, sponsor and promote educational, social, exhibition and other events for members and the public.

As they reach that first anniversary, the organization can trumpet their involvement in a number of initiatives in the past year. CWTF does a great deal for habitat: in 2014, over 2200 pounds of seed was given out to members to help improve habitat not only for wild turkeys, but also for other wildlife. 600 apple trees were also sold to members at great discount to plant for wildlife improvement areas.  They also work out agreements with local farmers to leave corn standing as an additional wildlife food source, lasting into the winter.

Founding CWTF member Terry Smith expressed excitement as he looks at where the organization has come from and what 2015 holds. He says, "CWTF has grown steadily over the past year with newly formed chapters, several seminars and we have been involved in numerous outdoor trade shows. With the addition of Mr. Steve Nicholson as Director of Operations CWTF has been able to gain growth and momentum as each month goes by. Steve's knowledge and expertise in wildlife, fund raising and ability to work throughout Canada has been an asset.  CWTF will look to grow its organization in Western Canada throughout 2015 and strengthen chapter committees in central and Eastern Provinces.

The CWTF is also involved in initiatives to promote families and getting children involved in the outdoors with their parents. There were 14 children sponsored to go to a “Hoot and Shoot” event in spring of 2014 in Maine, where the kids were taught (among other things) about habitat, hunting safety, and of course wild turkeys. Parents, volunteers, local mentors, and the families made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime, and several of them were able to harvest their first wild turkeys!

My own son Hunter was able to experience his first wild turkey hunt at the Hoot and Shoot in 2014 due to the generosity of the volunteers and the CWTF. The unforgettable look on his face when he heard his first gobbler at an answer to his owl hooter is something I will always cherish. Relationships were forged, lessons were learned, and memories were formed as we experienced the outdoors together and grew: a family of turkey hunters.

The CWTF is about much more than just shooting a turkey:  It's about habitat restoration. It's about educating and informing hunters about wildlife, sustainability, and ethical practices. It's about giving back more than you get from the outdoors and the world around you. And it's about family... not only blood family but a family; a fraternity of like-minded individuals getting to know one another and appreciating the great outdoors! We truly learned what Colonel Tom Kelly meant when he said in his classic work “The Tenth Legion,” - “I do not hunt turkeys because I want to; I hunt turkeys because I have to.”

CWTF and Trigger Time release true wild turkeys in Manitoba

The CWTF has become a truly national organization with chapters in nearly every province and hard work happening all across the country. Most recently, CWTF was involved in a wild turkey trap and transfer initiative in Manitoba on March 13th, 2015. 34 banded birds were released in two separate areas in an attempt to see the population established in those areas. There were a number of different groups involved and CWTF was right there in the midst of the action!

Their involvement was arranged by an exciting sponsorship agreement with the creators of “Trigger Effect,” a popular TV show currently running in their third season on the WildTV network. “Recently Trigger Effect, along with local wildlife organizations and CWTF worked together to establish new populations of wild turkeys in Manitoba. Involvement with conservation minded organizations like CWTF is how we as outdoor enthusiast can insure that our wild legacy will be enjoyed by generations to come.” Kent Michie, Co-host of Trigger Effect and proud member of CWTF

Moving forward, this arrangement should continue to benefit both organizations. You can find out more about their unique and diverse perspective on the outdoors at their website

2015 is expected to be a very busy year with many activities planned. The organization will be involved in many local outdoor and sportsmen shows throughout the country to raise awareness in the work that they do. There are already 10 “Hunting Heritage” banquets scheduled for the 2015 season. In the East, the next “Hoot and Shoot” has been scheduled for the first weekend in May in Maine. And, of course, there will be further habitat work done to improve the outdoors for wild turkeys and many other species.

The Canadian Wild Turkey Federation sells individual annual memberships for $35. Information about joining and the initiatives can be found on their website at or on their Facebook pages. Dean Trumbley, Co-Host of Trigger Effect announced: “Trigger Effect is very proud to join forces with the CWTF, with all of our Co-Hosts being biologists as well as hunters we could not think of a more natural fit. Our goal is to spread the word on the CWTF to our millions of viewers…join today!

If you’re in Atlantic Canada, CWTF will have a booth at the NB Sportsman show in Moncton, New Brunswick from March 28-30, 2015.  There will be turkey calling demonstrations and even a competition on the main stage, a chance to ask questions to CWTF representatives, and lots of learning opportunities. Stop by and wish them a “Happy Birthday!”

2015-03-20 17:21:02


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