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Austin Heine

Austin Heine (right) and Ethan Campbell are both members of the State College Chapter at North Carolina State University.

About Austin

Hometown: Fayetteville, N.C.
Hometown Chapters: Sandhills Chapter in Fayetteville and State College Chapter in Raleigh
Background: In 2009, Austin received a $250 scholarship from the Sandhills Chapter. He is now a sophomore at North Carolina State University, pursuing a double major in forest management and wildlife management. When not at college, Austin lives in Fayetteville with his parents, Jim and Barbara, and sister Morgan.

Q&A with Austin Heine

This college student has remained an active NWTF member away at college, as well as at home. He runs a mean coffee straw, too.

NWTF: Austin, who do you credit with helping to develop your love for the outdoors?

Austin Heine: My dad, Jim — he started taking me deer hunting when I was 3 and turkey hunting when I was 6 or 7 years old. And he's had me fishing with him since I could walk. He has kept me involved in the outdoors, which has been a good way for us to remain close.

NWTF: How did your dad's decision to get you outdoors at such an early age help you later on?

AH: Being outdoors kept me out of trouble and doing the right thing. As long as I was hunting or fishing, my parents knew I wasn't doing anything wrong. I've noticed that when children are introduced to the outdoors at an early age, they have a much stronger passion for it and are much more dedicated to it.

NWTF: What's your favorite part about turkey hunting?

AH: I really like hearing turkeys gobble early in the morning, when they're real close. It just kind of wakes you up.

When we hunt, we let the smaller birds walk most of the time and won't shoot one unless it is really big. And that's fine with me. I don't have to shoot one. As long as I can get one in close and gobbling, I'm having fun.

NWTF: We hear you have a pretty unusual method of turkey calling.

AH: Who told you about that? (laughs) Yeah, I call using a coffee straw.

It started when I was younger, and my dad and I were hunting with Jim Casada. Jim was messing around with a straw, just sort of trying to call with it, because he thought it could work. After that, I really got into it. And for about a year and a half, I nearly drove my parents crazy. (laughs) Then I got good at it, so I tried using it when I was hunting. Now I use the straw as my primary calling method. In my experience, I have found that gobblers like the sound of the call from a straw even more than the sound made with traditional calling methods. I've probably called in more than 15 gobblers using a coffee straw. It's pretty fun to watch.

NWTF: Tell us about your involvement with the NWTF.

AH: I was just elected the secretary for the State College Chapter at North Carolina State University for the upcoming year. I am excited to help steer our chapter in the right direction and hope to serve as the chapter president one day. The State College Chapter has only been around for five years, so I want to make sure that it stays around and keeps growing. We host a banquet every year, and this year, we plan to host a Wheelin' Sportsmen event and participate in the Turkey Hunters Care program.

NWTF: What makes the State College Chapter special?

AH: There are few college NWTF chapters out there. All our members are currently college students, and most belong to another NWTF chapter in their hometowns too. The best way to describe our chapter is that it is really like a club. Having this NWTF chapter at my school has helped me make friends my age who also like to turkey hunt. We all have the same interests and get along really well. It's a great group of people to hang out with. On the opening day of turkey season, we all text each other to see who got a bird.

NWTF: Why do you think it is important to support the NWTF?

AH: When you get involved with the NWTF, you see how active it is, and how good it has been for conservation. The NWTF has helped the turkey population grow in so many areas that had little or no birds before. You can actually see the success from the work it does. Whether relocating turkeys, providing scholarships, hosting outreach events or providing turkeys to those in need through the Turkey Hunters Care program, the NWTF helps people and makes a positive impact on communities. — Melanie Swearingen