David Rainer on Outdoor Alabama: Inaugural class inducted into Alabama Turkey Hunters Hall of Fame

By David Rainer
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Posted 6/18/24

The inaugural class of the Alabama Turkey Hunters Hall of Fame was inducted last weekend during the World Championship Turkey Calling competition at the Mobile Convention Center, and the inductees …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Subscribe to continue reading. Already a subscriber? Sign in

Get the gift of local news. All subscriptions 50% off for a limited time!

You can cancel anytime.

Please log in to continue

Log in

David Rainer on Outdoor Alabama: Inaugural class inducted into Alabama Turkey Hunters Hall of Fame


The inaugural class of the Alabama Turkey Hunters Hall of Fame was inducted last weekend during the World Championship Turkey Calling competition at the Mobile Convention Center, and the inductees should come as no surprise to those who call themselves a turkey hunter.

Of the six inductees, only two are still living, Eddie Salter of Evergreen and 97-year-old Colonel Tom Kelly of Spanish Fort who now lives in Virginia and couldn't travel to the ceremony. Those honored posthumously were Lynn Dent Boykin of Mobile, Fred T. Stimpson of Mobile, Ben Rodgers Lee of Coffeeville and Billy Macoy of Lineville.

Salter, known as "Turkey Man," has won numerous calling contests, including the World Championship twice, and more awards than you can count as well as hosting a popular TV series.

"Anything to do with turkeys, I'm always excited to be a part of," Salter said. "This is something special for Alabama turkey hunters. I know it's special to me. Hopefully, down the road we can grow it into a lot of different things. They're talking about possibly having a museum one day. I'm excited to be a part of it.

"It all started as me being an old barber and talking turkey hunting and ended up with the title 'Turkey Man.' It's about being a part of something you love so much. Hopefully we can get it kicked off and get these people who deserve to be in it inducted. It's not how good you can call. It's being stewards of the land and caretakers of the turkeys and passing along the tradition where we can have turkeys for these younger generations."

Kelly is known as the poet laureate of the turkey hunting world with his seminal "Tenth Legion" book considered an annual read for diehard turkey hunters. Kelly was a forester by trade and a turkey hunter by passion. He has authored more than 20 books, most centered around the many aspects of chasing wily turkeys.

I interviewed Kelly several years ago, and he still marveled at the behavior of wild turkeys.

"After 70 years, a turkey will still do things to me that I wonder how in the (heck) did he do it," Kelly said. "I honestly think that a third of the turkeys we kill are walk-ups. We call to a turkey, and he gobbles and gobbles, and then a turkey comes up from another side. You wonder how he got around there, but I think it's a different turkey. I think there is way more of that than we think.

"I think where the fascination lies is that every time you go something happens a little bit differently – every time. And they've got a genius for making you look stupid."

Lynn Dent Boykin was the first female to become the president of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and served as chair of the NWTF's National Board of Directors.

"I think it's a high honor," said Starr Boykin, one of Lynn's four children. "I think she's smiling from up above. When she was with the National Wild Turkey Federation 23 years ago, I think she was one of the first ones to think about the hunting heritage. She was one of the pioneers of the hunting heritage movement. She wanted to continue hunting and conservation for future generations.

"She transported turkeys with (NWTF's) James Earl (Kennamer) and Rob Keck all over the United States to encourage the growth of turkey populations so people could enjoy them."

When Doug Max of Uriah, pursued the idea of the Alabama Turkey Hunters Hall of Fame, he discovered that the City of Linden, Alabama, had the rights to that entity but had never pursued the creation of the hall. Max received permission to use the name from Linden, and the result culminated in the first inductions last weekend.

"The tradition of turkey hunting in Alabama cannot be overstated and turkey hunters all over the United States totally understand this," Max said. "It's basically where the modern sport of turkey hunting has its beginning. These people chosen for induction and many of the future inductees are largely responsible for this, and we are going to give them their long overdue recognition."

At the ceremony, Max said many of the inductees are known for their calling and hunting skills, some for their conservation work, but Fred T. Stimpson did it all. Stimpson was famous for his turkey hunting skills and was renowned for his conservation work through land procurement and wildlife management. Named in his honor, the Fred T. Stimpson Special Opportunity Area (SOA) is a 5,400-acre tract in Clarke County that transitioned from youth hunts and limited adult archery deer hunts to SOA status.

"He won the first World Championship Turkey Call Contest in 1940 right across the street at the Battle House," said grandson Fred T. Stimpson III. "They did the calling contest to bring focus to conserving turkeys. He was president of the Alabama Wildlife Federation and served on the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board for years.

"He spent the first part of his life trying to make money. During the Depression, he hunted a lot and realized they needed to save the wild turkey, so he spent the rest of his life in conservation efforts to conserve and propagate wild turkeys. His favorite thing to do was putting tracts of land together that would be used for taking care of the turkeys and other conservation efforts. That was his hobby. And we're carrying on the tradition. My uncles and dad have been on the Conservation Advisory Board, and we've all been active in the Alabama Wildlife Federation. We've continued the legacy of conservation in Alabama."

Billy Macoy grew up turkey hunting in the rugged terrain around Talladega National Forest and Cheaha Mountain, and his guiding skills were legendary with numerous celebrities at his side. Macoy guided at Southern Sportsman's Hunting Lodge in Lowndes County, Alabama, for owner Jim Mason from 1982 until Macoy's passing in 2005. Macoy won the NWTF's Grand National Calling Championship in 1989.

"Billy was a real good man who did a lot for turkey hunting," Mason said. "Billy was probably the most generous person I ever met. He'd give you the shirt off his back. Billy was really good at figuring out a turkey and the best way to call that turkey. He and Paul Butski (also a guide at Southern Sportsman's and Grand National champion) were the same. They knew the turkey and what he was doing. Those were the two best callers I ever hunted with.

"I remember hunting a turkey with Billy one day, and the turkey was supposed to come right up the road. Well, he didn't come up the road. We looked up and he was pushing through the honeysuckles. He had honeysuckle vines all around his neck. We didn't even shoot him. If he wanted to get there so bad that he would crawl through those honeysuckles, we weren't going to shoot."

Ben Rodgers Lee is remembered as the person who brought turkey hunting to the outdoors mainstream through his videos, seminars, media and publications. Lee's magnetic personality and his ability to relate to turkey hunters led to his legendary status in the turkey hunting world.

My hunting buddy, two-time World Championship winner Larry Norton of Myrtlewood, Alabama, was a protégé of Lee's and said Lee taught him more about hunting turkeys than anyone.

"He taught me the turkeys didn't care if I was a world champion," Norton said. "It what's you say and when you say it. You've got to learn the turkey language. Clucking and purring mean feeding. Aggressive clucking and purring mean they've seen something that they don't know what it is. He taught me that you've got to know what to say and when to say it."

Speaking of the World Championship Turkey Calling Contest, an event that Kenny Weiss brought back to Mobile five years ago, the competition was tight with many contests decided by a half a point.

In the Senior Open division, Wayne Dozier from Dickinson, Alabama, took top honors, followed by Jared Lowe of Gadsden, Alabama, and Matthew Presley of Front Royal, Virginia.

Jason Conrad of Union, Mississippi, prevailed in the Friction Calling competition. The Owl Hooting champion was Brandon Rick of Pfafftown, North Carolina. Mitchell Johnson of Purlear, North Carolina, won the Gobbling competition, while Dozier and Lowe took home the Team Challenge title. Hudson McGarity of Dahlonega, Georgia, was the Amateur champ.