The term “good old boys” is thrown about all too casually these days, doing a disservice to those who genuinely deserve the title.
Good old boys aren’t wild red necks who drink too much beer, race old cars and say famous last words like “Hey y’all, watch this!”
Real good old boys are salt-of-the-earth rural folk. Hard working, industrious, honest, kind, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Yup, regular boy scouts. And they’re often creative and inventive, too, which leads to even more wonderful things like bluegrass music, moonshine and game calls.
So say hello to David Hale and Harold Knight, a pair of quintessential good old boys, as I learned recently while hunting their stomping grounds near Kentucky’s famous Land Between The Lakes for an upcoming episode of Winchester World of Whitetail. Harold and David don’t make moonshine, but they’re the champions of game calls.
Half a lifetime ago these Kentucky mountain boys emerged from the wooded hills where they grew up hunting squirrels, deer and quail to parlay their love of hunting into a call manufacturing company (Knight & Hale) that became and remains one of the world’s most successful. Since 1972 their game calls have helped hundreds of thousands of other hunters bag turkeys, ducks, geese, squirrels, whitetails, elk and even moose. The pair have been in business together for more than 40 years without a divorce or even a major squabble because these old boys really are good. Good to one another, their families, their employees and their clients.
You discover this within minutes of meeting them at Granny’s Cafe. Harold can hardly maneuver through the locals without having his arm talked off and talking off a few arms of his own. He finally joins David, two of his grandsons, me and videographer Chris Anderson at a corner table. The sparkle in David’s eye as he begins telling stories suggests we take them with a grain of salt. And plenty of laughs. By the end of breakfast I feel as if I’ve discovered a couple of beloved, long-lost uncles. By the end of the hunt, I’m certain I have.
And I envy 15-year old Blake, the oldest grandson not just of David, but Harold, too. Their kids married, so the too old hunting and business partners also get to be grandpa partners. Blake not only enjoys his grandpas’ hard-won wisdom, but the fun, too. They continue to fish, hunt squirrels and turkeys and whitetails and ducks and even elk. They share their knowledge freely, addressing conservation and church groups, spreading their love of the outdoors, God and family.
The pair admit they owe much of their initial success to outdoor writers. One of them, turkey hunting writer Dave Harbour, bumped into David in the Kentucky woods, wrote about Harold’s turkey tube call in Sports Afield, and orders started pouring in. Over the years David and Harold hosted dozens of writers on hunts, creating such buzz that Harold’s former call-making hobby became a company employing 40 and selling hundreds of thousands of calls. As their fame grew, the pair initiated a hunting show on TV, Ultimate Hunting. I believe it’s still running.
Despite their achievements, Harold and David aren’t rocking away their golden years on the front porch. They have a few new projects in the works, and all of us will be the better for them. Stay tuned. The good old boys aren’t done yet.
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