I've been hunting turkeys since I was 12 years old, and I'm 34 now. I hunt mainly in Kentucky, but I've hunted Osceolas in Florida too. I've hunted in Ohio a couple of times, and I'm going to Alabama this year. Here in Kentucky I have a lot of family and friends who let me hunt their lands, and some of our friends from church also allow me to hunt on their lands. My friends and family know how hard I've worked to try and win this championship, and they’ve been right there with me all along the way.
I started building turkey calls many years ago when I discovered that many of the calls I bought in sporting goods stores didn’t allow me to make the sounds of the wild turkey that I wanted to make. I decided that if I was going to continue to compete in turkey-calling contests, I needed to buy my own press (a machine used to build turkey calls). After I bought the press, I started building calls. In the early days of my call making, I took tips and suggestions from some of the best turkey callers in the nation. To make the most realistic turkey calls I could make, I finally decided that I needed to find one hen that I thought made the best calls I’d ever heard. Then I’d try and build my calls to make the same sounds that this hen made.
Early one morning when I was out hunting turkeys, I heard a hen yelping and calling. I guess I made her mad when I began calling to her. I had my video camera with me, and I was able to film about 2 hours of that hen cutting, cackling and making all kinds of turkey sounds. That hen and her calling stuck in my brain, and I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I had been building calls to sound like different hens. Finally one day, I said, “I want to build a call to sound just like the hen I have on video.” So, that’s what I did.
I didn’t name this hen, but I did name her boyfriend. His name became Buford T. Justice. I heard Buford gobble for the first time back in 2014 from a big ole sycamore tree he roosted in every night. I hunted the farm where Buford lived for at least 10 days every season. So, I put in 70 days trying to take that gobbler, and I never could take him. I think ole Buford is either still sitting up in that sycamore tree, drawing a social security check and not talking, or he died of old age.
I used my Jesse Martin Signature Call with a ghost cut to win the 2017 championship. This call has three reeds, and it’s sold by American Strutter in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I like this call, because I can control the call, instead of the call’s controlling me. It will pretty much do what I tell it to do. The ghost cut is cut right in the center of one of the reeds and enables me to give a good, clear sound on the front end of my calling sequence. When a hen opens her mouth to yelp, I believe the first sound she makes is the sound that the gobbler keys in on to know if a hen is making that sound instead of a hunter. Using this call, I can cutt, cluck, purr, kee and make plain yelps and all the little subtle sounds that I believe will add the final touches I need to bring a gobble within gun range.