Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

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hoobilly
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Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by hoobilly » February 23rd, 2018, 11:16 am

Pulled this post from Facebook. Ricky Jo Bishop wrote this and felt it was good enough to share here on GN. Some of you had to have known Be. And please share any stories you have..

TBT , Ben Rodgers Lee, I was lucky enough to meet and call against him back in the old days. A true legend in the turkey world!!
Ben Rogers Lee, the man, the myth, the legend.

Ben Rogers Lee was born in Starkville, Miss in 1944 and lived in Coffeeville, Ala. until his tragic death. Ben Rogers Lee was killed in Oct 1991 in a car crash at the exact spot in the road that claimed his daughter two years ago to the day.

Ben was a character who could entertain all with his stories and his calling ability. He was well revered and liked by all, something that is hard to do in what can be a very cut throat industry. Ben is credited with being the first to develop and sell mouth calls, he built his with lead frames, won’t see that today with lead poisoning. He was a big man weighing over 400 pounds but he had gastric bypass before he was killed and was down to 170 pounds.

Ben story about the first calling contest he ever entered "You know the first contest I ever entered, up in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania—had to borrow the money to get there—I did the four required calls. Then for my fifth call I did my favorite, the cackle. Well, I got three zeros. I asked them judges afterward why they give me three zeros. 'Ben,' they said, 'we never heard that call before.' Oh, I educated people that day. Taught 'em a call that would make the turkeys run 'em over."
Ben started making his call full time in 1973. At first he made mouth calls and box calls on a little table in the kitchen of his trailer home, selling them for 50¢ each at hardware stores. Ben Lee Turkey Calls was on its way. Lee used his own products to become world champion in 1969, 70, '73, '74 and '77; Alabama State Champion in '74 and '79; Southeastern Champion in '73, '74 and '80; National Champion in '72 and '73; Southern Open Champion in '76; and Champion of Champions in '72, '73 and '74. But what set him apart from other turkey callers, what really made his reputation, was his ability to wax eloquent in the woods in gizzard-to-gizzard conversation.

Here are some of his stories;
Unlike domesticated turkeys—"Turkeys in barnyards is dumb," says Lee, "they's bad dumb"—the wild turkey is extremely crafty, capable of running 35 mph and flying 55 mph, and possesses remarkable hearing and eyesight. "The hearing of a turkey is 10 times as good as a man's," says Lee, "and the eyesight is as good as an eagle's. I've cut the pupil out of a turkey's eye, laid it on a dime and looked through. It made the dime look like a half-dollar."
The gobbler isn't the only one who's all worked up. "Most people get so excited, they get to shakin'," says Lee. "A doctor will tell you, if you've got heart problems, don't go turkey huntin'. You build up a tremendous amount of tension sittin' there an hour, maybe two. You got a weak heart, you don't wanna be "Callin' up a turkey is like makin' love to a woman; you caress her, you tell her how wonderful she is, and then it's all over. When you shoot that turkey it's one of the greatest releases in the world, just like after a great love affair. I tell people I would blow the breath back into every turkey I ever killed just so I could go through the whole experience again. When you kill one, that affair is over."
His yelps and puts grow more mellow as the darkness gathers. "You know, callin' is just like talkin'," he says suddenly, realizing he's been thinking out loud. "It just comes naturally."

One of Bens favorite tactics was putting a Gobbler to sleep thinking about that special hen;Deep in the woods all the turkeys are roosting up in the trees. There may be one gobbler out there who's having trouble settling down for the night, a gobbler whose red head glows in the darkness. Over and over he hums to himself a particularly bewitching remark he heard that afternoon, not so much a remark as a song; a song so sensitive, so expressive, it could only have come from a turkey hen whose irresistible beauty would be surpassed only by her astonishing passion. He spends the night, eyes open, waiting for daylight.
Some of Bens favorite quotes “you caint call to much to the turkey he likes it real good"
"I love to hunt deer, and I hunt them with all legal weapons, all legal seasons. When they open up a deer rock chuckin season, I will be doing that to."

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hoobilly
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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by hoobilly » February 23rd, 2018, 11:17 am

Here’s a couple pictures that Mr Bishop shared
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51AE9F84-BDF4-48D7-8EBD-1B60ED435F1E.jpeg

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by vaturkey » February 23rd, 2018, 11:31 am

Great Read ! Thanks for sharing Brice

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by 2Shooter » February 23rd, 2018, 11:31 am

My dad took me to several of his seminars when I was a teenager. Mr. Lee was a funny man on stage, and got the crowd into it. At one seminar he said he didn’t know what kind of job he could get if the turkey call business went bad, and he put rubber blower on his application!!! lol He was a down to earth man, and would stay and talk forever after the seminars. Great man!!!
Last edited by 2Shooter on February 25th, 2018, 3:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by ncturkey » February 23rd, 2018, 11:41 am

Cool read
Mike

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by RaspyD » February 23rd, 2018, 12:10 pm

Thanks for posting! I remember meeting him when I was a kid and he was truly larger than life. I have a cassette tape of an interview of Ben calling and talking turkey. I'm gonna have to listen to that on my way to work.

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by appalachianassassin » February 23rd, 2018, 12:31 pm

ben lee was the man. thx for posting this
gotta love turkey huntin!!!

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by Fatmo » February 23rd, 2018, 12:54 pm

Very good story! Met him twice before he passed, once he came to PA. for a seminar and to hunt with a couple of my friends ( I think I was 8 ) and the other at a seminar in MS. when my ship was stationed in MS. At this meeting he even took the time to reminisce about his hunt in PA. We started making our own calls using his idea of lead frames and rubber gloves (No tape)

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by makeumgobble » February 23rd, 2018, 1:01 pm

the very first bird i ever called up and killed was with a signed ben lee box

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GLS
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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by GLS » February 23rd, 2018, 4:50 pm

There was some type of NWTF event in Louisville, Georgia in 1976 and present were some rock stars of turkey hunting from the early days. I had never hunted turkeys before and wanted to learn how to call. Preston Pittman, Dick Kirby, Neil Cost and of course, Ben Lee. I met and talked with all of them and did business buying calls from both Cost and Lee over the years. At the meeting, I bought a couple of mouth calls and a cassette from Ben by the time I got back home, a two hours drive, I had gotten past the gag reflex and was yelping and clucking. I recall a conversation on the phone with Ben. "Do mind if I tune and play these boxes while we talk?" is what I remember best. He was a great ambassador of our passion. Gil

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by BumbleFoot » February 23rd, 2018, 7:25 pm

Brings back some great memories. I’d remember more if it wasn’t for all the time I spent with his lead frame calls in my mouth. I bought dozens for 50 cents too. Early on, you had a choice of thick or thin latex. All single reed. Later double. No worries about air channels or trim/cut types. Simple times...

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by Turkinator » February 23rd, 2018, 7:57 pm

:thumbup:

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by paboxcall » February 23rd, 2018, 8:22 pm

Well done, one of the great masters of our sport. Thanks for sharing, that was a good read.
"Sit down wrong, and you're beat."
Jim Spencer

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by soiltester » February 24th, 2018, 8:37 am

Great man and I was lucky to have had the opportunity to hear him talk at a Michigan seminar & show, back when :thumbup:
ever wonder where the white goes when the snow melts??

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by GLS » February 26th, 2018, 7:05 am

Some of you who may not have been old enough at the time of his zenith may not fully appreciate the rock star status Lee had in turkey hunting and spreading the word in its rebirth across parts of the country. He was one of the first to make a living solely as a turkey hunting, call making guru. I had thought that he had been on Johnny Carson, but I couldn't find his name appearing there. However, he was on the Mike Douglas Show in 1977:
http://www.jesuskidzfilm.ml/database/ge ... movie.html
If you've never heard of Mike Douglas or for heaven's sake, Johnny Carson, ask your parents. ;)

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Re: Ben Rodgers Lee (Ricky jo Bishops post)

Post by slayerrd » February 27th, 2018, 5:57 am

When I was growing up my dad had a Ben Lee cassette tape. I remember listening to that over and over.

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