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The Importance of The NWTF With Turkey Calling Legend Steve Stoltz

Steve Stoltz vintage photo with turkey

Since 1973, the NWTF (National Wild Turkey Federation) has been dedicated to wild turkey conservation and the preservation of the hunting heritage. Today, there are over 250,000 members as the work continues from one of the most incredible organizations hunting has ever had. From wild turkey restoration, wildlife management efforts, youth hunting programs, and much more, it is safe to say that turkey hunting would not be where it is today without the efforts of the NWTF. In fact, in 1973, the population of wild turkeys in the United States was only 1.3 million. Today, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the NWTF, there are more than 6 million birds. Some say that it is the most incredible conservation story ever.

The NWTF is a vital organization for turkey hunters, yet they are much more than an organization that makes turkey hunting one of the most rewarding hunting sports on earth. They are responsible for many hunters’ success, such as turkey calling contests and hunts, and many formed friendships that make hunting a passionate tradition.

Missouri native Steve Stoltz has been fortunate enough to have a long-time career in the hunting and calling industry because of the wild turkey. Stoltz has won numerous turkey calling competitions, including state championships and the prestigious Grand National and World Championships. Because of his successful calling efforts, Stoltz has served on many pro staffs and teams for hunting companies, including becoming one of the original members of the Drury Outdoors team, which he continues to be a part of today, as well as a longtime national pro staff member for Mossy Oak and a pro staff member for Woodhaven Custom Calls.

Like many others, Stoltz credits his parents for getting him started in turkey hunting. Stoltz says that his father took him and his brother hunting at a young age, where he harvested his first bird at eleven years old, and his father called in for him. Soon after, Stoltz scouted independently, then crawled into a cedar tree, where he called a mature gobbler into close range. Stoltz then made the harvest, which was his first turkey hunt by himself. “I vowed from that point on that I would become the best turkey caller I could ever become,” says Stoltz. Because his father was a charter member of the NWTF, Stoltz began reading informative turkey hunting articles, including ones from his father’s NWTF’s Turkey Call Magazine. With his goal to become a better turkey caller for hunting, Stoltz began competing in turkey calling competitions. With thirty-two callers present, Stoltz placed fifth in his first competition. Two years later, he won his first Missouri State Championship. In 1987, Stoltz had built his calling skills to a level where he won the Levi Garrett All-American Open. At that time, it was the largest payout for a calling competition. In 1993, he won the World Championship. After that, he never looked back, winning several contests, including the Grand Nationals and the Champions of Champions division of the Grand Nationals, as well as two team World Championships.

Why Is It Important to Join The NWTF?

 “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” answered Stoltz after asking him why someone should support the NWTF. He emphasized that if you’re not supporting organizations that help our tradition of hunting and the habitat of the wild turkey, you could say you’re part of the problem. Organizations like the NWTF are vital for us to pass this tradition on to future generations. Numerous youth events that promote hunting are all responsible because of the NWTF. Stoltz also explains that supporting the NWTF is vital because we, as hunters, can use the NWTF as a fundamental resource for locations to hunt, knowing where populations are high and low and where restoration efforts are in effect. It allows you to become a more knowledgeable and efficient hunter. “The amount that you pay to be a yearly member is much less than what the NWTF does in return to help us as hunters,” says Stoltz.

Turkey hunting would not be what it is today without the efforts of the National Wild Turkey Federation. At one time, when the NWTF began getting involved with all the states, turkey hunting was only allowed in a few select states. Now, turkey is hunting available in every state except for Alaska. The success story of the restoration of the wild turkey is the reason why the NWTF has succeeded.

Stoltz and the NWTF

It is no secret that the NWTF has worked hard to get the wild turkey population and turkey hunting to what it is today. Many hunters who have made their living in the hunting industry, such as Stoltz, also credit the NWTF for helping them along the way. Stoltz and many other turkey-calling champions would be non-existent without the NWTF. As Stoltz and many other callers have helped work and promote the NWTF, the NWTF has never been shy of showing their gratitude to them. Stoltz shared that he helped produce the 25th-anniversary video celebration of the NWTF, where he says he got to visit, meet, and hunt with many folks from the NWTF.

In 2003, Stoltz finished 4th in the Grand Nationals; the NWTF and Austin Nichols Co. sent the top 5 callers to the David Letterman Show and funded the entire trip. Stoltz says it was a fantastic experience, all because of a turkey call. He thanks the NWTF for the memories.

When sharing how the NWTF and Stoltz have shared their support for each other for many years, Stoltz shared another memorable moment when he won the 1987 Levi Garrett Open. After winning the grand prize money of $3500.00, Carl Brown of the NWTF, a judge at the contest, stopped Stoltz after the win and said, “You know a lifetime membership of the NWTF is only $500.00, don’t you think this would be a good time to join for life?” Stoltz answered with, “Who do you want me to make the check out too?” Stoltz has lived up to his lifetime commitment by staying involved every year since.

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