I was very sad to hear about Mr. Dick Kirby passing away on October 1st due to back surgery complications. Mr. Kirby was the founder of Quaker Boy Game Calls where he revolutionized the way turkey hunters used game calls.
Mr. Kirby was an avid turkey hunter in which he killed 25 straight turkey Grand Slams. That amazes me to this day. Especially when you think of all the dynamic factors involved with turkey hunting, i.e. weather, birds not working, etc., plus the traveling involved within the short seasons for all 4 subspecies. Unbelievable!
Here is the story of my interaction with Mr. Kirby. I noticed Mr. Kirby while hunting on Gobblin Fever TV show with Mark Scroggins. I really noticed his long paddle box call and the beautiful calls coming from it. Of course he called a gobbler in on the show and he put the smack down on him. That call stuck in my head. Later that week, I got a mail order catalog, dedicated to turkey gear, and I was looking at the calls and I saw a limited edition “25 Grand Slams in a Row” handcrafted call by Mr. Kirby for sale. I thought it was beautiful and I loved his personal touches and workmanship.
I need to back track a little to tell the whole story. My Dad and I decided a few years ago to kill the grand slam. We planned to take a trip to Texas to kill the Rio Grande and Colorado for the Merriam. At this time all he had left was the Osceola, and I had leased a place south of St. Augustine just for Osceola turkey hunting. I knew he was going to complete it and I wanted some way to celebrate his accomplishment. That’s when I saw Mr. Kirby’s call and an idea popped in my head.
This idea was to get my Dad a custom call made by one of the great call makers in the country and for him to personalize it. So I looked for a Website for Mr. Kirby and all that came up was Quaker Boy’s corporate site. Then I came across an article about making turkey calls where they were interviewing him. Luckily for me, he had included his personal email address at the bottom. It was too good to be true and I was nervous to email him, plus it was an AOL address and I thought he might not have used it anymore since the article was dated a few years back.
Well, I sent him an email telling him my story and how it would be special for me to get a call built to give to my Dad. A couple of hours later, he responded and told me he would be honored to make it but it would have to be after turkey season. This was March 1st, 2009. I laughed and sent him a reply saying I most definitely understood and good luck.
So, May 1st, he emailed me with a price and wanted to know the information for the personalization I wanted. Then around first of June it came in the mail. When I opened it up I was shocked at how beautiful it was. I have some photos below of this call but it does not give it justice. The wood he used was perfect; the color was flawless. Then I had to try it out so I dragged the handle across the top to make a call and it had perfect tone and pitch. Then I noticed his personal address to my Father congratulating him of his accomplishment. I was so touched and so proud of it. I could not wait to give it to my Dad. I sent Mr. Kirby an email thanking him and he wrote me back saying he smiled while making it because it brought back memories and he could tell how strong a bond I have with my father.
When I gave it to my Dad, he was speechless and he called it a piece of art. He emailed Mr. Kirby and told him thank you. He also told him it was too beautiful to hunt with and he was going to put it above his fireplace mantle. This kind of aggravated Mr. Kirby and he fired back an email saying he appreciated the thanks BUT his calls were meant to be used and strongly urged him to take it out. My Dad and I did and we made sure to be careful and that the weather conditions were perfect. Now that he has passed, we also agreed that we are going to video a hunt calling a gobbler in with this amazing call in honor of Mr. Kirby this spring. Stay tuned for that video.
When something like this happens, you need to realize how fragile life can be. Mr. Kirby touched us with more than a beautiful call. He reminded me of past hunts that my Father and I had. He reminded me about the tradition involved with this great sport. I am honored to have that experience and brief interaction with Mr. Kirby. Now to have such a piece of art to commemorate it makes it that more special. I am sure he is chasing an elusive bird as we speak where it is open season all the time. Happy hunting Mr. Dick Kirby and we will get one for you this spring!
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