Gobblers, Guitars A Go-Go
Pinson deciphers winning formula for turkey hunting competition
(Steve Bowman photo)
Standing alongside Taylor Swift and Kris Kristofferson to receive awards in 2009, Bobby Pinson probably felt he finally made an indelible mark in the country music industry, after more than 20 years trying.
He might have felt the same satisfaction last week when all the pieces fell into place at the World Turkey Hunting Championships in La Cynge, Kan. Pinson said both endeavors aren’t the easiest in the world to gain success.
“I found breaking into the outdoor industry as tough as breaking into the music industry,” he said. “I’m a turkey hunter and I love competition. But competition and hunting don’t necessarily go together. It’s always been a faux pas, kind of frowned upon.”
But Pinson researched it, talked to a lot of folks and finally figured out a recipe for a hunting competition, one he said turned into more of a festival.
Click the image to view photos of Bobby Pinson at the turkey hunting competition
“Nobody has done a Bassmaster kind of event on turkey hunting,” he said, although noting a number of benefit hunts. “There’s a passion around turkey hunting; it’s a magnet for like-minded people. If I could be a part of an event that would draw these people, I thought why not.”
With his music connections, Pinson, who’s written four No. 1 hits with Toby Keith and another four for Sugarland, got Keith to play at last year’s event. (His writing chops earned Pinson the 2009 BMI Songwriter of the Year Award.) Montgomery Gentry performed at this year’s event.
He sought out a central location – enter Clint Walker of Wicked Outfitters in La Cygne. Walker is a friend of Outdoor Channel’s Pat and Nicole Reeve, recently taking a red stag on a “Driven with Pat and Nicole” trip to New Zealand. He helped secure their appearance, as well as “Inside Outdoors TV” hosts Tim Anello and Dave Poteat.
Outdoor Channel had a big presence at the WTHC as Matt and Big Bill Busbice of “Wildgame Nation” and Randy Birdsong and Nate Hoise from “Headhunters TV” were in attendance.
While others balked at hosting, Walker jumped at the shot to show what his property has to offer, figuring the turkey will talk for themselves and it could help promote the deer and waterfowl hunts he offers for sale.
“I should never have to do another trade show again,” Walker joked. “This year was a great success. Bobby said, ‘If you’re good with it, we’re going to keep it here. You’re an awesome host.’”
With interest from pro and amateur hunters, as well as some film, TV and sports celebrities, Pinson got 44 three-man teams to pony up $5,000 to hunt – offering $50,000 in cash and prizes back didn’t hurt the draw.
Pinson chose worthy charities to benefit, raising money through sponsorships and a silent auction, which was open to the public and had local radio advertising.
“We raise money with music for charity – why not do this through hunting?” Pinson said. “We give all our food away for Hunt for Hunger. We make a very significant monetary donation to Hunting for Heroes.
“We plan to work with those guys for a long time. This one really worked. I think it’s a great cause. They tend to get overlooked. I was in the Army and have an acute appreciation for those guys. When you think of police and firefighters, they don’t get a lot of appreciation.”
Hunting for Heroes is a non-profit providing recreational therapy and counseling for law enforcement officers who have been severely injured in the line of duty. Walker said the group was extremely helpful, and several officers got to enjoy hunts, like Mike Lose killing a turkey with Pat and Nicole.
Click the image to view photos of Pat and Nicole Reeve on a turkey hunt with
Mike Lose, one of the contestants in the World Turkey Hunting Championships
The teams, comprised of a caller, a shooter and a cameraman (there was a prize for best footage), drew for land units then hunted for two days. The NWTF scoring system of beard, spurs and weight was used, along with bonus points for doubling up and bow kills.
Of the 44 teams, there were 52 birds killed and 11 misses.
Team Outdoor Edge Knives was winner for second year in a row, taking four birds scoring 258.9 points. They took home $25,000, trophies, championship rings and a gift package. The only other team with four birds, “Headhunters TV” finished second with 249.2 points for $10,000. Cash and prizes were awarded through 10th place, but the four days weren’t all about gobbler prowess.
“This is not necessarily about the best turkey hunters,” Pinson said. “That’s why they call it hunting. But it’s a great event for fellowship. We take our hunting serious and our fun serious, and helping those who are helping us. That’s why we were able to team up with Hunting for Heroes.”
Logistically, getting 200 people into a hunting camp was taxing, as was securing hunting land for all the teams. Pinson said Walker was instrumental in the success.
“The Walker family has just truly opened up,” Pinson said. “They had people staying in the basements of all their relatives.
“We’ve reached out to locals in the small town, had 30 landowners and all their families involved. We hoped we boosted the local economy. It’s not every day you can have Montgomery Gentry and Toby Keith come and play in one of their front yards.”