NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- From handwritten lines on a small sticky note, Glen Andrews made big statements. And got big laughs.
The 79-year-old bass fishing legend from Lead Hill, Ark., talked about the differences in the sport today from when he helped get it rolling in the late 1960s.
Andrews was among eight inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors National Hall of Fame on Saturday. Other inductees were renowned anglers Charlie Ingram and Judy Wong, hunting dignitaries Peggy Vallery, Jackie Bushman, Jim Zumbo, skeet shooting champion John Satterwhite and the "Father of Conservation" Jack Miner, posthumously.
Festivities began with a meet-and-greet at 10 a.m. where almost 350 people piled in. About seven hours later, BASS founder Ray Scott served as the warm-up act for Andrews to the 150 or so who remained. At around 6 p.m., Andrews closed the proceedings. It was best for last.
"Seems everybody's going to the bathroom and not coming back," quipped Scott, who was often the target of others' good-natured jesting. Emcee Hank Parker related Scott's distinction between con man and promoter, of which he claims to be the latter.
"A con man will get you once, while a promoter gets you over and over and over," Parker said.
Scott busted up the crowd with some outlandish statements, but had only kind words for the man who had served as his sounding board as Scott scrambled around northwest Arkansas setting up the first All-American Invitational fishing tournament.
"If I had any questions, I'd ask Glen because he'd know the answer," said Scott, whose name-dropping included those who did and didn't stake his idea. One check-writer told Scott to do with the money what he would, "just never tell my wife."
Andrews elicited similar roars of laughter, exaggerating about how bass competitors now use "ships," and poking fun at the new-fangled electronics. Relating a story on how far the technology has advanced from his days in a flat bottom boat, he conjured up a scenario where fish finders will shout, "Set the hook, idiot!"
Andrews didn't need any of it when he won the World Series of Sport Fishing in 1965 and 1966 after being runner-up twice. He also developed techniques and lures, promoted tournaments and wrote a syndicated column "Angler's World," and compiled his own manual, "Techniques of Bass Fishing."
His main message was that to become an expert, one must practice what they preach. Andrews recalled he had fished 300 days a year for several decades.
"It would take a weekend angler 45 years to catch up to me. To be a great bass fisherman, you have to practice a lot," he said. "I did it for 20 years, almost consecutively. I don't think I went on the lake and didn't learn something."
A book, "An Impossible Cast: Glen Andrews and the Birth of Professional Bass Fishing," details his story, which includes helping Scott brainstorm how to build tournament structure and membership for BASS. Remuneration was not the great motivator, Andrews said. "I did it for bass fishing."
Andrews closed the day, which was rife with talk of God, family, country, conservation and funny anecdotes, with these appropriate words: "Go fishing, that's what it's all about."
Legends of the Outdoors
Garry Mason, who has now held nine Hall of Fame class induction banquets, gathered "50 to 60 percent of America's most celebrated outdoorsman" for the 2010 ceremony.
"It's the outdoors Emmys," National Wild Turkey Federation CEO George Thornton said.
Hunting and fishing buddies mingled during the meet-and-greet session, and after lunch country music artist Kevin Weldon entertained.
Rob Keck, former CEO of the NWTF, gave an emotional tribute to the U.S. armed forces, relating a trip to Europe with his 84-year-old father, who earned a Purple Heart serving in World War II. He said people there still wanted their picture taken with a U.S. soldier because "you kept us free."
He related how his father cried at the gravestones of his "buddies who never got to go home." The woman who oversaw the memorial asked Keck and his father to lower the American flag and fold it. Keck remembers taking special care with it and his father crying again when the woman gave him the flag.
"I get to take home my buddies," he said.
Keck asked the veterans in the audience to stand and the 35 or so received a round of applause.
The awards began flowing, first for Ducks Unlimited as the American Outdoors Organization of the Year. Former major leaguer and Blue Rhino Foundation founder Ryan Klesko took the top outdoorsman honor, while Bass Pro Shops' Johnny Morris, Andrews' son Glen, and Daisy and Charlie Brewer Slider Co. gathered awards.
The first inductee was Peggy Vallery, who is president of the NWTF board of directors. She spoke of Second Amendment rights, working to get more women and children involved in hunting and the conservation of animals.
Vallery, who has taken 109 species on five continents, has an impressive trophy room that holds far more than animal mounts.
"I hope to one day donate it to a museum so everybody can enjoy these animals," she said. "It's not just the bagging of the animal, it's the culture and the people."
Long-time women's bass angler Judy Wong said there was a time when she was uncertain about fishing as a career, but was finally rewarded with titles, including one with the Bassmaster Women's Tour that earned a trip to the White House.
"There were times when I didn't know if this is what I should be doing," she said. "It was a big sense of relief and a sense of accomplishment when I won my first championships."
She glowed about visiting the Oval Office and talking fishing with President Bush, but said her greatest enjoyment was traveling to Germany with bait manufacturer Gary Yamamoto and thanking U.S. soldiers.
Kirk Miner accepted on behalf of his grandfather Jack Miner, the "Father of Conservation" who began banding geese and ducks just after the turn of the century. A former market hunter, Miner turned "poacher to preacher" in 1904 when he formed one of the first "Game Protective Associations" and founded a bird sanctuary in Kingsville, Ontario, where he banded waterfowl to track their movements.
Parker and presenter Wade Bourne both commented how after all their years of hunting, they were never fortunate enough to down a bird with a valued Jack Miner band, but Kirk was there to hand out some specially-made bands.
Jackie Bushman, who brought together deer hunting interests through Buckmasters, spoke of his shows and how none have been as special as those to benefit terminally ill children. He then switched gears and talked about the hilarity of hunting with the likes of NASCAR legend Richard Petty.
Donning an orange vest, Petty stunned Bushman when he turned to show a huge STP patch on his back. Petty's turn of surprise followed when he mistook a grunt call for Bushman "breaking wind."
"It was like taking Barney Fife hunting," Bushman said.
Nationally known big-game hunter, outdoor writer and photographer Jim Zumbo kept the family theme going. The Wilford Brimley lookalike said of all his hunts, "my personal favorites were with my children."
Mere months from turning 70, when others have long racked their rifles, Zumbo said he'll keep plugging away.
"I ain't done pulling the trigger yet," he said.
Charlie Ingram, pro bass angler and host of Fishing University and Hunting University shows, was the first to win three BASS national events in one year. He qualified to eight Bassmaster Classics and four FLW championships.
World champion skeet shooter John Satterwhite was also inducted. After a career teaching shooting in the U.S. Air Force, he served as captain of the 1976 U.S. Olympic and 1979 World Championship teams. He is now a consultant to a number of law enforcement agencies and conducts humorous shooting exhibitions.
Mason became a full-time guide when the factory he worked in closed, and he soon became a respected member of the outdoors community. Through his hunts and fishing endeavors, he acted upon the need to have a platform to honor those who blazed trails in the field, thus the Legends of the Outdoors was born.
In keeping with the family theme, Mason pointed out that continued youth access to the outdoors is critical as the lifestyle develops solid citizens: "Kids who hunt and fish don't rob banks."
To visit the Legends of the Outdoors web site, click here.