Over the last five decades, there have been tremendous changes throughout our society.
That, of course, comes as no surprise to those of us old enough to remember “The Ed Sullivan Show” airing in black-and-white on one of the three television networks available in those days.
Some folks think most of the changes have been for the worse and that our country today is “going to heck in a handbasket.” I’m not one of those. At the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, I maintain that things have never been better, at least in most respects.
For one thing, some of our wildlife populations are in better shape than they have been since Ike was in the White House. (Young readers will have to look him up). Whitetail deer are an example. When I was a kid and spending a lot of time in the woods in Johnston County, I never once saw a deer. A friend and I came across a deer track in a sandy path one day and were astounded. It was as if we had found a dinosaur foot print.
It was the same with wild turkeys. Those big birds had almost disappeared from the landscape by the 1960s and the only one I ever saw except in a book was a gobbler a fellow shot illegally while duck hunting on the Neuse River. Today both of those popular game species have been brought back, largely through the efforts of dedicated sportsmen, and there are more deer and turkeys in North Carolina than at any time since the turn of the twentieth century.
As a consequence, there are also more deer and turkey hunters than in the old days. Many of those men and women support their favorite sport through membership in one of the many organizations that work to conserve and enhance our wildlife resources, which brings me to another encouraging observation. It’s that some of those sportsmen groups are going above and beyond their efforts with wildlife. A case in point is the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).
At their 28th annual Hunting Heritage Banquet held last February, the Neuse Chapter of the NWTF announced plans to partner with Religious Community Services (RCS) in New Bern to provide meals to needy families in the area. Neuse Chapter president Curtis Priest, along with members Luke Gibson and Robert Smith worked with Deb Swan and Susan Lucas of RCS to figure out the details. In accord with the NWTF Turkey Hunters Care program, they agreed that 100 meals for Christmas 2017 would be a great effort.
NWTF Neuse Chapter volunteers held food drives at Food Lion and Piggly Wiggly grocery stores to accept non-perishable food items and monetary donations.
They also obtained a booth at the New Bern Mumfest in October where they sold raffle tickets and took donations to help purchase turkeys for the Christmas meals. RCS accepted donations at their warehouse as well.
The menu for the meals included turkey, stuffing, yams, green beans, cranberries, potatoes and gravy mix. Donations poured in for all of the food plus many additional non-perishable items which were supplied to the RCS warehouse for distribution.
Priest and Piggly Wiggly owner Danny Creel worked out details for purchasing the turkeys and members of the NWTF Neuse Chapter, along with Piggly Wiggly employees and RCS volunteers met on Dec. 19 to load the food for delivery to the RCS warehouse. There, volunteers bagged the meals and on Dec. 21 distributed them to 117 excited and appreciative families.
According to Robert Smith of the NWTF Neuse chapter, the project would not have been possible without the enthusiastic support of the businesses involved, RCS and, especially, members of the community who were so generous. The driving force, however, was the National Wild Turkey Federation whose members are dedicated to improving things not only for our nation’s wildlife populations but also for fellow citizens who can use a helping hand on occasion.
It makes me feel good about the direction we’re headed.
Ed Wall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-671- 3207. His web site is www.edwalloutdoors.com.