Banquet season a chance for sportsmen and women to support the cause

Fundraising conservation banquets provide an environment for sportsmen and women to gather in the off-season, enjoy a night out and maybe take home a nice prize in the form of a painting, firearm or rare novelty.

There are many ways we outdoorsmen and women can give back to the sporting community and one of those is by attending a conservation banquet.

No matter where you live there is sure to be a local chapter affiliated with a conservation organization like Ducks Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Trout Unlimited or the National Wild Turkey Federation to name a few. Many will be holding their banquets soon, if they haven’t already.

Often organized by a handful of dedicated volunteers, these banquets raise money not only for the organization itself, but often to support funding for local programs and projects. I’ve seen TU funds and volunteers tackle stream restoration projects in my area. My local shooting range doubles as a classroom for local archery and firearms training for youth and adults alike and has been the beneficiary of several Friends of the NRA grants.

As for youth programs, the local NWTF chapter as well as that of the Quality Deer Management Association pool their resources every spring to support a youth turkey hunting program that prepares young hunters for the upcoming youth turkey season.

At a higher level, these organizations often lend their support to state agencies in the form of biologists and other resources. When you attend a banquet and spend your hard-earned money, you are supporting all of this and more.

These fundraising banquets themselves are a great cure for cabin fever. There’s certainly a social aspect to them as they provide an environment for sportsmen to gather in the off-season, enjoy a night out and maybe take home a nice prize in the form of a painting, firearm or rare novelty.

There are some attendees who are purely dedicated to the organization and what it stands for who will do whatever they can for the cause. I annually serve as a guest auctioneer at the local NWTF and DU banquets and have seen this firsthand, especially when those one-of-a-kind novelty items hit the auction floor.

So what is like to attend a banquet, and how much does it cost? Tickets, which usually include dinner, can be anywhere from $30 to $100, depending on the package and incentives.

Once inside the doors, a cornucopia of merchandise associated with the hosting organization awaits. Typically, the live auction table will have about two-dozen big-ticket items there for the viewing, and the auction will take place toward the end of the evening. There’s usually a silent auction table and another for bucket raffles.

There’s also some very special items or packages that have a separate raffle or some type of game that is played to determine the winner. All of this allows the attendee to support the host organization and basically take a chance on winning a valuable prize.

I like to compare it to a trip to the casino —only in the case of the banquets, I’m supporting the cause rather than just spending money. If I win something, that’s simply a bonus as the real benefit is getting together for a night out with my fellow sportsmen.

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