He can build turkey calls, he can tell hunting stories and he can definitely call turkeys.
But Eddie Salter is driven by a desire to teach others how to enjoy the sport to its utmost.
“My grandfather taught me to hunt and call turkeys and we built my first call when I was about eight,” said Salter, who spoke in front of a packed house at Hartley’s Greenhead Out-doors Tuesday night. “I’m 67 now and - just like my grandfather - I’m trying to pass on what I know to others.”
Growing up in Evergreen, Alabama, Salter was a hardwood hunter like most Mississippi turkey hunters.
He ran a barber shop and built calls on the side. The call was high quality, worked well and Salter would even teach you how to use them.
“It got to be pretty good business,” said Salter. “Most people I know would rather hunt turkeys than cut hair.”
So he turned his passion into a career.
Salter now holds seven Southeastern Open Turkey Calling Championships, six Alabama State Championships and two World Open Championships. Named one of the top-10 sportsmen in the U.S. in 1986 and 1989 and with almost four decades of turkey-hunting experience, Salter is recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on turkey hunting.
Known as the “Turkey Man,” Salter’s marketing mantra is simple: “It’s not a hobby. It’s not a past-time. It’s something inside you.”
He talked of Southern Culture and the tradition of fathers passing down hunting skills to their children.
He told those hunters gathered in Clarksdale Monday night that just about anyone can learn to call turkey’s.
“It’s more about learning to hunt them than to just call them,” said Salter. “Turkey hunting is the only sport where you make things happen.”
He also pointed out if a turkey could smell you would probably never see them. North America’s largest game bird is blessed with excellent hearing, phenomenal eyesight and they know the woods they live in.
“Camouflage is a key part of your kit,” he explained. “There are lots of gadgets and guns, and like all hunting it’s how you want to go about it that makes it so much fun.”
He said calling turkeys is not hard, but it has to be done right. It has to sound like a turkey and it has to be presented properly.
“I encourage people to buy a call and start practicing,” said Salter. “I think you can pick it up in a week or two. Then get in the woods.”
To veteran turkey hunters, Salter urged them to try different calls.
“What works one time might not work the next, or even on the same hunt” said Salter. “Turkey are a wary bird and pick up on little things. If one stops or moves away. Try another call and you might be surprised.”
Salter talked conservation and how turkey habitat supports so many other types of wildlife.
He also talked of father’s passing the sport down to their sons.
“Buy a blind and they don’t have to be so still,” said Salter. “Show them the woods and let them make some mistakes, just like you did.
“Most importantly - and this is something every turkey hunter knows - be patient and teach them to be patient,” he said. “You’re doing more than making the next generation of turkey hunters, your making memories.”