ATLANTA — Two icons of wild turkey conservation were presented with an award named for a pioneer in wild turkey restoration during the National Wild Turkey Federation’s annual Convention and Sport Show in Atlanta.
Fred Evans and Michael Seamster received the inaugural Wayne Bailey Lifetime Achievement Awards for their dedication to wild turkey conservation and management.
“It is very appropriate that Fred and Mike receive the very first Wayne Bailey Lifetime Achievement awards,” said Dr. James Earl Kennamer, NWTF senior vice president for conservation programs. “Both were influenced by Bailey and continued his work for wild turkeys.”
Evans worked with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation for more than 30 years, retiring in 1989. He influenced many young biologists as they started their careers. He was also one of the first to realize the potential for wild turkeys in New York, and directly helped neighboring states improve their own flocks. Evans was one of the first members of the NWTF’s National Board of Directors, and helped point the NWTF into becoming the greatest single-species conservation organization in the country.
“Fred was always eager to share his enthusiasm for wild turkeys and the knowledge he accumulated through experience,” said Bob Eriksen, NWTF regional biologist for New Jersey. “He willingly shared his techniques and calling expertise with others through seminars in New Jersey, New York and Ontario, and in the process, helped initiate a generation of skilled, safe and concerned turkey hunters.”
Seamster spent 33 years with the North Carolina Wildlife Commission with his last 20 years as North Carolina’s turkey project leader. He managed North Carolina’s turkey restoration efforts, which established a spring turkey gobbler season in all 100 counties of the state. Seamster has written numerous articles about wild turkeys over the years, and in 2006, wrote the “History of the Wild Turkey Management in North Carolina.”
“I had the good fortune to work with Wayne, and I learned a lot about hunting and life in general from Wayne,” Seamster said. “I was honored to follow in his footsteps in North Carolina, and deeply honored to receive an award that bears his name.”
Wayne Bailey was know to many as the Godfather of modern turkey management and was a key player in the development of the NWTF. He was a member of the first NWTF Advisory board in 1973, the first NWTF Charter Member, the first NWTF Technical Committee in 1975, and was the first recipient of the NWTF’s Conservationists of the Year Award in 1978. Bailey died on Feb. 27, 2007, after a long battle with cancer.
“Wayne Bailey was a pioneer in modern turkey restoration and thanks to his relentless efforts, the successful comeback of the wild turkey was possible,” said Rob Keck, NWTF CEO. “I can’t think of two more deserving people to receive this award in honor of a man who worked so tirelessly for wild turkey conservation and hunting.”
Evan’s Wayne Bailey Lifetime Achievement Award was accepted by NWTF Regional biologists Bob Eriksen and Doug Little and NWTF New York State Chapter President Larry Becker, who will re-present the award to Evans.