It’s raining; I mean it’s the kind of rain that concerns a man named Noah. I’m huddled under a pop-up picnic shelter with a dozen other refugees and a pile of Canada goose decoys. Crowded, but excessively polite (except for the geese) we settle in to enjoy a symphony of about thirty children as they harmoniously play a version of “Three Blind Mice” on duck calls. Friends, if ever in the history of the English language there was a mis-use of the word “harmoniously”, you have just witnessed it.
But to the ears of Zink Calls Pro Hunter Bob “Chappy” Chaplin, there is no sweeter sound in the world then what he’s hearing right now. To him, this is the sound that assures the future of waterfowl hunting on the North Coast. This is the sound of thousands of Saturdays of the future when these children won’t be out finding trouble on the streets, but huddled in the blinds of a township corn field awaiting the decent of a long black “V” of geese.
Zink Calls and the Ohio Waterfowl Association generously sponsored this seminar and call “tune-up” event at Erie Outfitters on Lake Road in Sheffield Lake, with a host of outfitters and charter boaters chipping in to start these young enthusiasts on their way to the passionate pursuit of waterfowl hunting. “I grew up in Cleveland, the Collinwood neighborhood, back in the day of Danny Green. You know, back then they were blowing up cars and stuff!” Chappy says of the old neighborhood. “But my dad took me out hunting every weekend. I could have wound up a lot worse places, including prison. I owe a lot to hunting and growing up in the outdoors, and I want to pass that on to these kids.” It’s a sentiment echoed by event organizer Brandon Baker who said, “Yeah, we lost some kids due to the weather, but I like to think it’s the good ones that showed up. It’s all about the kids today and getting them involved.”
Proper demonstration of the “Hail call” leads to instruction of the kids of how to put together a collection of calling techniques, a basic before these young hunters take to the blind. Each youngster was given a Zink duck call and lanyard and a Heavi-Shot camo hat to start them on their way with water-fowling gear. A calling contest was held to help each caller perfect his skills. Later, Baker’s team ofDan Cahl, Bryan Kepic, Caleb Cole and Pat Evansassisted them in tuning their calls to the perfect pitch showing them how to tweak the reeds. Geese are discerning, not any bleated “Honk” will bring them in.
Despite the downpour, the event was a great success and is intended to be the first of many such annual seminars. One thing I can tell from seeing the enthusiasm of these kids on their calls, this event will be an ever-growing favorite for young hunters for a long time.