By Kevin Tate
Outdoor pursuits step inside tomorrow and Thursday when northeast Mississippi chapters of Friends of the NRA and the National Wild Turkey Federation host their annual banquets.
The Northeast Mississippi Friends of NRA will hold their annual banquet and auction tomorrow evening beginning at 5:30 at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo. Tickets for this event are available online at www.friendsofnra.org as well as from any committee member.
The ticket price is $35 per person or $60 per couple. The Hill Country Strutters chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will hold their banquet Thursday, April 17, in building 5 of the Tupelo Furniture Market. Doors open at 6 p.m., dinner starts at 7 and there’ll be raffles and auctions, both silent and live. Tickets are $50 for individuals, $70 for couples, $10 for those younger than 16 and will be available at the door or from committee members in advance.
In both cases the events offer fellowship and a good meal. Friends of NRA’s banquet will feature quail, and the Hill Country Strutters will have a cornucopia of goodness prepared by Rob Lesley and Romie’s Grocery. More than the laughter and the food, though, are opportunities to give back to the hunting, shooting and conservation efforts all outdoor enthusiasts share.
Friends of NRA is a nonprofit foundation which provides financial support to firearm safety and education training programs in support of the shooting sports. Half of the funds raised remain in Mississippi and support programs such as Boy Scouts of America, 4H, JROTC, hunter safety and Eddie Eagle. Last year statewide, Friends of NRA raised more than $60,000 for these programs.
The NWTF is the nation’s largest hunting conservation group and funds a variety of programs geared toward introducing youngsters to the outdoors, toward connecting women who hunt with their peers all across the continent, and toward helping hunters with physical challenges find new and exciting opportunities outdoors. Like Friends of NRA, much of the money raised by local chapters is spent locally. Further, local volunteers plan and execute local programs for the benefit of area hunters and shooters of all ages.
“We hope to bring more of these programs to northeast Mississippi,” Tim Weston, with the Hill Country Strutters, said.
Weston said the group’s youth-oriented program is one of his favorite causes. Geared toward hunters younger than 16, the JAKES program, Juniors Acquiring Knowledge Ethics and Sportsmanship, creates opportunities for area youngsters to get outdoors, shoot BB guns, discover archery and learn about nature.
“These are things I took for granted growing up on a farm, but they’re things many kids just don’t get to experience today,” Weston said. Other NWTF programs include those that pair an NWTF biologist with a landowner to help improve habitat, the Women in the Outdoors effort that provides a forum for ladies who hunt, and the Wheelin’ Sportsman program that helps hunters with physical challenges better enjoy their time afield.