Story by Matt Tyler
It is a long way from the Pine Belt to New York City or Los Angeles. Hattiesburg native Preston Pittman has been to both, and a turkey call took him there.
A five-time world champion caller and member of the Mississippi Outdoor Hall of Fame and the National Outdoor Hall of Fame, Pittman is a legendary outdoorsman whose ability to “talk” turkey began at an early age.
“I was always trying to make weird sounds with my mouth as a kid,” Pittman said. “Back when I was 10, 11 or 12 years old, there used to be several organizations that had what I call just good, ole-time country days. Over in Carthage, MS they had a Fourth of July celebration day. At the function they had all kinds of old-timey things going on and the state championship turkey calling competition. I met Mr. Jack Dudley, who was the state champion caller at the time, and by the end of the day he had me semi-yelping with a natural voice.”
Dudley didn’t know it at the time, but a legend was born that day. Pittman would go on to win his first competition at 16 and he remains the only person to ever hold five different world titles. Success on the stage led to fame off it, and Pittman has become a celebrity in more than the outdoor community.
“Some of the talk shows I’ve done, like Leno, Letterman and Regis, that is fun. Getting to fly into New York, getting to go into L.A. and having a stretch limo waiting on you,” Pittman says while laughing, a laugh that sounds eerily similar to a turkey.
Bright lights and big cities are not what the down-to-Earth Pittman prefers, though. A resident of rural Madison County, he is a staunch advocate of all things Mississippi.
“I love my people here in Mississippi, especially country folks,” Pittman explains. “I think our heritage of politeness, of Southern hospitality, of yes sir and no sir, yes ma’am and no ma’am, is still here. You can still shake a man’s hand and look him dead-in-the-eye. The people themselves are real, and I like that. The soil is so rich with our heritage, so rich with the amount of wildlife and the water we have here, why the hell would someone want to live anywhere else?”
As he’s gotten older, he spends less time in the office – which is located in West Point since his Pittman Game Calls merged with Longleaf Camo. Pittman spends more time now telling stories in his folksy drawl – which he does quite well – in order to help others become better woodsmen. His advice is generally pretty simple and humorous and it will resonate with many in our technology-driven world. “Quit watching so damn much TV. Get out there and experience it for yourself,” Pittman says in a burst of passion.
Well, what are you waiting on?
For more information about Pittman Game calls, visit pittmangamecalls.com.