BY MIKE STEVENS
SANTA YSABEL — The annual Spring Turkey Tune-Up produced by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has quickly grown into a very popular event that precedes one of the most highly-anticipated hunting seasons in the West. The 2022 installment is set to go down on Feb. 26 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Lake Henshaw Campground, and it stands as an ideal kickoff event for the spring turkey season. The modest $10 entry fee (cash only) includes three raffle tickets for guided private-land turkey hunts, Lake Sutherland hunts, a pig hunt, guns, turkey calls, calling seminars as well as some other prizes from Turner’s Outdoorsman and Bolsa Gunsmithing. This is the second year the event has been held at Lake Henshaw, and according to event Co-chair, Steve Turigliatto, it’s an ideal location that should be the spot for it for years to come. While the locations have changed over the years, the Spring Turkey Tune Up has been held in some form since 1998. Last year it drew 661 attendees, and that was more of a Covid year, and also one with less raffle items up for grabs. “For 10 dollars, you get 43 chances at a hunt on private land and a chance at a gun just for walking through the gate,” said Turigliatto. “There’s a lot of merchandise being raffled off and plenty of seasoned and beginning hunters, and we have information for new hunters, too. It covers just about all the bases. Turigliatto is well aware at how tough turkey hunting on private land is not only in his native San Diego County where it’s “the only game in town,” but throughout the state. He told WON the intel and building blocks picked up at the Spring Turkey Tune-Up are the type that also applies to gobbler hunting beyond state lines. “That’s why we have it when we do, because the season opens up a month later,” he said. “It (the event) gives you a place to start to not only hunt here, but in Northern California and other states.” One of the most popular elements of the Spring Turkey Tune up is the Shotgun Patterning Station which will again be available this year, and the turkey targets are provided. There are plenty of booths a turkey hunter can visit for useful intel prior to this season in the field including but not limited to My Country Club, Inc., Willow Creek Archery, Department of Fish and Wildlife Wardens, NWTF volunteers, a biologist from Cleveland National Forest. Food will be available on site from Lake Henshaw Cafe, and the Western Outdoor News subscription booth is also slated to make an appearance. Turigliatto said there may be an ATM to use but strongly recommended bringing cash not only for entry (cash is required for that) but for vendors. One sweet deal attendees can take advantage of is buying a $35 membership to the National Wild Turkey Federation and receiving a $25 gift card for Bass Pro Shops. “We’re thinking we are going to have a pretty big crowd,” he added. When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of dedicated work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys thanks to the tremendous efforts of our dedicated volunteers, professional staff and committed partners. The mission of the National Wild Turkey Federation is no less urgent today than when it was founded in 1973. What we do in the coming decades will be instrumental in not only enhancing wild turkey populations but also in the continuation of hunting and quality wildlife habitat for countless species. The mission of the National Wild Turkey Federation is no less urgent today than when it was founded in 1973. What we do in the coming decades will be instrumental in not only enhancing wild turkey populations but also in the continuation of hunting and quality wildlife habitat for countless species. For more information, call Steve Turigliatto at (760) 803-HUNT, Janice Mendenhall (760) 822-3652 or Sam Taylor at (760) 782-3501.