State’s wild turkey chapter meets locally for convention

BIG RAPIDS — Persons from all areas of the state were at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center all day recently for another annual convention of the Michigan Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Tom Karsten of Caledonia, a regional director of the state chapter, said there were around 154 registrants for the event.

“We’ve been blessed having it here and the town has accommodated us so well that we keep coming back,” Karsten said. “We’ve been here around six years already.”

Among the functions of the convention, Karsten noted, was to stay updated with the wild turkey situation with the Department of Natural Resources and what’s going on with rules and regulations.

“It’s also time for us to say thank you and award our many great volunteers and chapters for the great progress we’re doing for our habitat and hunter recruitment and making a place for the wild turkey in Michigan a better place to live.”

There currently is no official Big Rapids chapter.

“That chapter is kind of in limbo,” Karsten said. “We haven’t found enough people to help us pick that back up. If we find the right individuals we will start that again. We need about six to 10 people that are like minded and want to help us complete and work on the mission. They’d be community leaders to help us propel the mission, to help the habitat and save our hunting heritage.”

The state chapter formed in the early 1980s, Karsten recalled.

Tony Snyder of Battle Creek, is the state chapter’s current president.

“(Saturday morning) we had our state board meeting and we’re talking about our new initiative to ‘save the habitat, save the hunt,’” he said.

Snyder concurred with Karsten that his chapter would like to see a local group in the Big Rapids area.

“You learn of hunting opportunities,” Snyder said, adding that local chapters also “do women in the outdoors events, (youth programs) and a program for those with disabilities. You get conservation seed programs where you can get (a certain specified type of) corn and they can plant that for habitat We have tree planting programs. There’s lot of of benefits that come from being a member of NWTF.

“We’re really a family-oriented conservation group.”

Participants included individuals that came from as far as Escanaba in the Upper Peninsula plus the Detroit area.