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Mitchell to host NWTF conference today, Saturday

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Starting this afternoon, a state conference for the National Wild Turkey Federation chapters will be held in Mitchell at the Highland Conference Center.

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Mitchell is hosting the two-day event for the first time, and more than 30 chapters from around the state will be in attendance.

The NWTF is a nationwide organization dedicated to conserving wild turkeys and persevering hunting traditions. It is headquartered in South Carolina.

The state chapter meeting begins at 2 p.m. today, when committee members, including four from the local chapter -- John Thompson, Lyle Collins, Jerry Lulewicz and Gary Kingsbury -- will discuss new products, such as prints and paintings by Terry Redlin for the local fund-raising banquets held throughout the state during the year. The committee will also discuss where it will direct its state funds.

"What we do for turkeys usually benefits a lot of other game animals," Kingsbury said. "The people that come will learn where our money goes, and how it's benefiting the state."

Mitchell's local chapter, the James River Gobblers, which has about 150 members, will hold its fundraising banquet Jan. 31.

Saturday is the busiest day for the state-wide conference. There will be 45-minute seminars throughout the day, starting at 8:30 a.m. There will be a lunch served at 11:30 a.m., and a dinner at 5:30 p.m.

Seminars will include reports from state biologists on the turkey population, tips on turkey hunting, demonstrations on how to paint turkey feathers, crock-pot cooking and a State Conservation Officer of the Year award.

Also, Game, Fish & Parks Secretary, Jeff Vonk, will attend to update new possible laws for 2009 and talk about projects the GF&P is working on for the year.

Silent and live auctions will be held, and a $45 single-person or $75 couple entrance fee will be taken, with 80 percent of the money earned going toward the state research and respiration to turkeys. The other 20 percent the conference brings in will go toward national research.

The James River Gobblers won't receive any money for hosting the event, since hosting is all volunteer.

"Anyone is welcome, and all NWTF members are encouraged to attend," Kingsbury said.

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