L.L.Bean has chosen to help celebrate its 100th anniversary by aiding the NWTF in establishing a “Learn to Hunt” pilot program in Pennsylvania.

The iconic American outdoor outfitter is donating one of only two prototypes of its 100th-anniversary Merkel Model 147SL 20 gauge shotguns to the NWTF for a March 11 auction by James D. Julia Auction House in Fairfield, Maine. Live bids will be taken in person, over the phone and online. Contact James D. Julia Auction House for information on online, phone and other bidding options at (207) 453-7125.

The proceeds from the rare collector’s piece will go to the NWTF’s JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) program in Pennsylvania.

The engraving theme for L.L.Bean’s limited edition, anniversary shotguns is a celebration of the company’s 100th anniversary. The bottom of the shotgun receiver features a custom gold inlayed engraving of L.L.Bean’s first and still widely popular product, the Maine Hunting Shoe.

L.L.Bean produced only 5, 4-gun anniversary sets for retail, priced at $75,000 each, as well as 20 individual 20 gauge shotguns which retail for $15,000.

“For decades, L.L.Bean has always been about making it as easy as possible for people, especially our youth, to engage in outdoor activities like hunting,” said Mac McKeever, L.L.Bean senior public relations representative. “Our company began over 100 years ago from a love of hunting and we’re eager to continue to share our passion for hunting with future generations.

“That’s why we chose the NWTF’s JAKES program to receive the proceeds from the auction. Their interest in promoting hunting to our youth mirrors L.L.Bean’s desire to ensure that people’s lives continue to be enriched by time spent in the outdoors.”

James D. Julia Auction House is waiving all of its commission and fees.

“Like L.L.Bean, we are enthusiastic about supporting hunting and shooting events that encourage good shooting and hunting experiences for the youth of our nation,” said James D. Julia. “We are proud to support the JAKES program and will do our very best to make as much money as possible from this unique gun.”

Local NWTF chapters hope to partner with state agencies to create and develop the program, which can serve as an example for other states.

Pennsylvania State Chapter members are working to develop regional events across the state, introducing youth to hunting through hands-on instruction in hunter safety, ethics and shooting skills. NWTF volunteers hope to work in partnership with state agencies to guide youth participants on a follow-up mentored hunt.

“Pennsylvania NWTF is honored to have been chosen by L.L.Bean to receive the proceeds from the auction to be used toward introducing youth to our sport,” said Leslie Smith, NWTF Pennsylvania outreach coordinator.

The JAKES program is one of three major NWTF outreach programs attempting to increase the number of hunters. The other two major programs are Women in the Outdoors and Wheelin’ Sportsmen.

More than 100,000 youth between the ages of 5 and 17 are exposed to conservation and the outdoor lifestyle each year through JAKES events supervised by expert outdoor instructors. Typical JAKES events include target shooting, archery, and other outdoor activities as well as hunter safety and conservation education.

The showpieces of the JAKES program are JAKES Take Aim trailers, which contain portable shooting ranges. In 2013, 49 states will have at least one JAKES Take Aim trailer to use at JAKES events.

The NWTF, a nonprofit organization, is the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation in North America. The NWTF is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage.

Through vital partnerships with state, federal and provincial agencies, the NWTF and our members have conserved 17.3 million acres of wildlife habitat, investing $412 million.

Image courtesy National Wild Turkey Federation

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