Lance Beesley, left, helps his four-year-old son, Levi, point an arrow toward the target during the annual banquet for the Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation at the Natchez Convention Center on Thursday evening. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Lance Beesley, left, helps his four-year-old son, Levi, point an arrow toward the target during the annual banquet for the Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation at the Natchez Convention Center on Thursday evening. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

Archived Story

NWTF’s banquet offers activities for children to get them involved

Published 12:01am Sunday, March 17, 2013

NATCHEZ — Dr. John Carlton spent some time Thursday night teaching young would-be hunters how to shoot a bow.

It may seem like a run-of-the-mill activity for children to do at a hunter’s banquet, but Carlton said there’s more at stake than just letting the young ones kill time.

“Surprisingly, a lot of the kids that came tonight had never even shot a bow before,” Carlton said. “This introduces them to the sport of archery, and now they may want to go buy a bow and actually start doing it at their house.”

Carlton helped teach a handful of youth the basics of shooting a bow at the kid’s corner during the Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s annual banquet. The activity, which Adams County 4-H helped promote, would hopefully get children on the path to turkey hunting one day, Carlton said.

Brandon Gremillion serves up steaks to the guests during the banquet. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Brandon Gremillion serves up steaks to the guests during the banquet. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

“Kids aren’t exposed to it enough nowadays,” Carlton said. “They’re sitting inside playing video games, and doing outside sports like this gets them out with their family and friends and keeps them out of trouble in the long run.”

Adams County 4-H Director David Carter said the kid’s corner also had a BB gun range and inflatable jumping platforms.

“That money goes toward the 4-H program to help get more kids involved and buy more equipment to help expand that program,” Carter said. “One day, they’ll maybe participate in turkey hunting and these conservation practices.”

Key Smith, treasurer of the NWTF’s Miss-Lou chapter, said the banquet was the chapter’s main fundraiser, and the money raised goes toward the restoration of lands and reinstating wild turkey on those lands.

“We’ve been very instrumental in putting turkeys back in the area,” Smith said. “That’s why there are so many people here.”

Byron Garrity, who has been a member of the Miss-Lou chapter for approximately 25 years, said the organization does offers landowners seeds for plants that turkeys feed on at a discount, in addition to helping make lands more habitat-friendly.

“A large percentage of the money is put back into the state to restore or increase habitat to benefit all people who hunt,” Garrity said.

Garrity also said he’s glad the Miss-Lou chapter realizes the importance of getting youth involved in the sport of turkey hunting.

“I’ve been going to (this banquet) every year, and the complexion of the chapter has changed over the years,” he said. “It was men-only, but they realized that didn’t promote family and youth hunters.”