I may have mentioned my tendency to hang out on the HuntingPA.com forums on a regular basis. I find 'em to be a great source of information for just about anythin' huntin' related, and Pennsyltucky huntin' in particular. There's also tons of stories and pictures from successful (and not so successful) hunters in our state. There's also a lot of interaction within the membership, both online and in person. Overall, it's purty tight-knit for an online community.
Rick Harro, an HPA member and one of many great turkey call makers in our state, recently found out that one of his neighbor's daughters was battlin' leukemia. With the help of the HPA community, he put together an unusual fundraiser back in September to help out; a turkey call auction.
Anyone that knows me knows I have one helluva weakness for turkey calls, so I knew that I'd be goin', come hell or high water. It'd be a good chance to help out a local family, scratch my itch for turkey calls, and it would also be a good chance to meet some of the fine folks that I converse with on the forums.
I managed to connive Spanky into drivin', and Tater met us there. Let me tell ya, Rick did an awesome job of puttin' the whole thing together. Pennsylvania is home to many of the best callmakers in the country, as evidenced by the piles of awards that come back to PA from the call making contests at the annual NWTF convention. Rick managed to get donations from a staggerin' amount of 'em. Not only that, but he got donations of artwork, knives, firearms, gift baskets, and other huntin' related accessories. To sell it off, he snagged a celebrity auctioneer from Barrett Jackson. There were piles of food and drinks that were donated by local stores to cater to the couple hundred bidders in attendance.
Many of the call makers that donated were in attendance, so I more or less wandered around in a daze for the first hour or so, just in complete awe. When I finally managed to pry my jaw off the ground and utter a few words, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy most of them were to talk to. They all had a story to tell, and most had a few jokes up their sleeves as well. Most of the call makers and bidders were excellent turkey hunters as well, and they were willin' to offer up some sage advice. I wonder how many longbeards have been collectively tug over the years by the folks that were at that auction? It has to be a staggerin' number.
The auction itself was quite a show. I love to hear a good auctioneer, and it was plain to see how that fella came to work for the likes of Barrett Jackson. He was excellent at engagin' the audience and gettin' those extra few dollars from the stubborn bidders, and was quick to crack a joke here and there.
I bid on several call and a few pieces of artwork before I finally pulled the trigger and won a fine wingbone yelper made by Tony Ezolt of Kutztown, PA. I've been admirin' his wingbones for a long time, and I was ecstatic to finally have one of my own. Now I just have to learn to run the damn thing...
|I won the lower call... a fine piece of artwork, for sure.|
Tater bid for and won a beautiful runnin' pot call made by Austin Botts of Jim Thorpe, PA. He had to leave early, so I picked it up at the end of the auction. Let me tell ya, after runnin' that call a few times, it made it very, very hard to relinquish it back to Tater the other mornin'. That's one good soundin' call.
Of course, Miranda and her family were the guests of honor. One of the highlights of the day was call maker Andy Snair, of Rockhill, PA, presentin' Miranda with one of his beautiful custom wingbone yelpers. It was very emotional for the family, and purty movin' for the bidders. I think I must caught a piece of dirt in my eye about that time... started waterin' up a bit.
Rick's goal for the auction was to raise $5,000. After seein' the quality of calls and the number of bidders in attendance, it was no shock to me that the auction raised more than $11,000.
I had a helluva good time, and it was a great way to burn a September afternoon.
Hat tip to Tater for most of the above pictures, since I was too busy yappin' to take many pictures of my own.