Dickie Champion (right) believes the outdoors keeps kids out of trouble when they're busy on a lake or in the woods.
Hometown: Acworth, Ga.
Q&A with Dickie Champion
This long-time turkey hunter has a knack for making one-of-a-kind calls and a passion for introducing women and children to the outdoors.
NWTF: Who got you involved in the outdoors?
Dickie Champion: My dad and uncle introduced me to the outdoors when I was probably 5 or 6, so I was running through the woods following after them.
In the mid-1960s, one of my teachers got me involved with turkey hunting and messing with turkey calls. I still turkey hunt with that teacher.
NWTF: What motivates you to pass along what you learned from them?
DC: It helps keep children out of trouble when we keep them busy on the lake and in the woods.
The teacher I mentioned earlier told me about hunting with a judge who asked the children who appeared in front of him if they hunt or fish. The judge said that 95 percent of them didn't do either. That tells you a lot.
NWTF: Why do you think it's important that we get more women involved in the outdoors and with the NWTF?
DC: I'm a supporter of the Women in the Outdoors program, because women vote. They help protect our hunting, property and gun rights. The more women we get involved in the outdoors, the better for all of us.
NWTF: What do you like most about the Women in the Outdoors program?
DC: The enthusiasm. The participants are so interested, eager to learn and enthusiastic about what they're doing. They always have a good time whether they kill a bird or not.
NWTF: What has it meant for you to be a member of the NWTF and to be so heavily involved with the Women in the Outdoors program?
DC: I believe in the Women in the Outdoors program's goals. I volunteer a lot for the Women in the Outdoors events because I want to get more women involved, see them have a good time and encourage them to become an NWTF member, if they are not already. The people involved with the Women in the Outdoors program are great. I just enjoy spending time with them.
NWTF: What's the best advice you give the first-time turkey hunters you mentor?
DC: You don't have to be the best caller in the world, but you have to have patience. People have a tendency to move if they feel they have lost a bird. And 90 percent of the time, the bird is still standing within 30 yards of them, looking at them. When you move, you scare them away.
NWTF: What tips can you give us about making sure our calls are in good shape for turkey season?
DC: Make sure the call's playing surfaces and the tips on your strikers are clean and free of any grease from your fingertips.
Make sure your box calls are well sanded and chalked.
Keep your diaphragm calls out of the heat and don't leave them on the dash of your truck. When you've finished hunting with them, separate the reeds. Rinse them out. Clean them with mouthwash, let them dry then store them in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator. That tightens up the latex and makes them last longer.
NWTF: What's the biggest mistake you think people make when calling?
DC: People have a tendency to call too loudly. Turkeys don't call loudly when they're doing their normal thing, and sound really carries in the woods. — Melanie Swearingen