2006 was the beginning of something totally unanticipated!
In late 2005, I mailed one call each to five call makers and collectors and asked them to candidly evaluate my work. I had been building calls for about 18 months, but up to that point my only interest had been in tagging turkeys using calls I had personally built.
But friends and friends of friends were asking for calls and I wasn’t certain I had a product worthy of the effort it would take to ramp up production. One of the call makers from whom I requested a critique advised me to enter the Grand National Call Making Competition hosted by the NWTF at their Annual Convention. He assured me that that would allow me to see how my work measured up against what was already available on the custom call market. I knew nothing about the Grand National Competition, but I did my homework and got a couple of slates entered. One was the Fancy Bubinga slate pictured on the Welcome Page.
My wife, Barbara, and I attended the Convention and when looking for my calls displayed with others in the competition we could not find my Bubinga slate. I finally asked an NWTF staffer for help. He asked my name and then informed me that my call was “upstairs.” I asked why and he said, “It will be sold Saturday morning on the live auction.” I asked why and he said, “You won the D. D. Adams Award.” I said, “No kidding…what is the D. D. Adams Award?” He said, “You’re kidding, right?” I had no clue. To say it was a surprise doesn’t begin to describe it.
2013 brought another monumental surprise. I have now been around the competition long enough to know what the Grand National Champion Call Maker Award is. I knew no pot call maker had ever won it so I was incredulous when told a Daybreak Call had been named overall Best in Show and I had been named Grand National Champion. A reporter for an outdoor publication phoned me the next week and asked how long I had been attempting to win the award. I answered him honestly when I said the thought of winning the Champion Call Maker Award had never once entered my mind.
2007 Started Something Big!
On February 3, 2007 I had the privilege of speaking to a crowd of over 800 outdoor enthusiasts gathered in the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The event was an annual affair sponsored by the Iowa Association of Regular Baptist Churches. In addition to being one of the workshop speakers in an afternoon filled with educational programs, I was privileged to speak to the entire crowd at the conclusion of a wonderful game dinner that evening. I spoke of being drawn to Christ as my personal Savior when I was 13 and responding to the call of God to preach when I was 16 and of the privilege it had been to serve Him in full-time Christian service for 32 years by that time. I wove that all into my account of God’s superintending influence in my life that allowed me to grow up the son ofa carpenter and to have worked with wood since I was 12. I spoke of hobbies that included refurbishing vintage guns which allowed me to gain an understanding of what it took to put museum grade finishes on rifle and shotgun stocks. Even my hobby of reloading ammunition and accurizing rifles taught me to place a premium on precision and attention to detail. So as I looked back on what it took to win the friction class of the Grand National Call Making Competition in 2006 it was a much longer journey than just the 18 months I had been building calls. That journey included many experiences and influences that converged in that win in 2006. It did not just happen. I asked everyone there to think about how God had worked to bring them to that event that night and to understand that it was no accident that they were listening to a man appeal to them to trust Christ to be their Savior from sin. Each of them needed to consider God’s superintending influence in their lives to get them there. I assured them that each time someone asks if I intend to go into call making full-time I respond the same way. I tell them that at the end of my life, I would rather be known for having helped souls into heaven than for helping turkeys into eternity.
That first sportsmen’s event was a springboard for what has become multiple events each year for the last seven years. Numbers of men and women have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. How could anyone have predicted that God would work this way? I certainly had no idea when I sent that Fancy Bubinga slate to the Grand National Call Making Competition in 2006 that it would expand my witness for Christ as it has. It has deepened my resolve to reach the end of my life better known for helping souls into heaven than for helping turkeys into eternity. To God be the glory!!
Gary L. Anderson…making calls today like others will tomorrow.