Despite the lack of sleep and the long trip from Waverly, Tennessee, I arrived at the NWTF convention in Atlanta, Georgia ready to take in all of the sites and sounds that I could possibly handle. It was only minutes after I enter the main floor that I started running into old friends.
Being always on the road and on the run, I sought the comfort of a soft chair in the auditorium where the Friction Calling Championships were taking place. This was the first time I had actually arrived early enough to watch this contest. Oh, to have just one of the contestants behind me in the turkey woods sweet-talking the boss gobbler into bow range! Of the 27 contestants, I definitely had my favorites. At the top of my list was Jeff Murphy, a Georgia boy decked out in his Tomaflage Camo fancy accented shirt. Murphy and I have shared a cadre of friends for several years and after listening to him call, I must insist on a hunting opportunity soon.
After the excited hen yelps, clucks, purrs, kee kee runs and plain yelps of the hen, that each of the contestants demonstrated, this country girls pulse was racing in anticipation for the upcoming spring ritual. In short-order, the audience eagerly anticipated the announcements. The judges decision was: 1st Mathew Van Cise (Brookville, PA); 2nd Terence Williamson (Buhl, AL); 3rd Jeff Murphy (Rayle, GA); 4th Matt Morett (Harrisburg, PA); 5th Sadler McGraw (Camden, AL).
My long time friend, Jim Eubanks, and his wife invited me and my great friend and turkey hunting guru,Dan De Witt, to be his guest at the Welcoming Ceremony, again, another first for me. What a lineup of celebrities! From the release of Challenger, the Bald Eagle, to the display of our Colors, and the pledge lead by military veteran and country music super-star, Craig Morgan, the evening’s kick-off was just the beginning of the excitement. An all-star lineup of outdoor celebrities was announced by Michael Waddell, spokesperson for Gander Mountain and the Outdoor Channel. Finally, the evenings entertainment was provided by my former neighbor, Mike Snider, Daryle Singletary, Craig Morgan, Rhett Akins, and Tracy Lawrence.
What an exciting day! Great friends! Great Music! Y’all sure missed out on a great evening. Now, I love music, especially country music, and since last night’s performances, I guess I’ve got a new favorite singer. You sure can beat listening to a good looking man that writes and sings songs about girls looking great in camo and turkey hanging up in the holler. Rhett Akins, you get my vote and I am sure that the 13.5 million hunters and over 550,000 NWT members will agree with me. We will be waiting in line to get your new album.
Well, I’ve got to go. There is way too much going on around here to stay stuck to a computer monitor. After all, I have to to go be your eyes and ears and report back to you tomorrow. Speaking of ears, I’ve got to go; I hear turkeys calling my name.