Veteran Bassmaster Elite Series pros Gerald Swindle, Stephen Browning and Shaw Grigsby recently participated in an outdoors experience that clearly moved them. And it had nothing to do with fishing.
The trio and other Elite Series pros including Keith Phillips and Pete Ponds volunteered their time to participate in the first Wheelin' Sportsmen National Wild Turkey Federation Celebrity-Youth Team Up in Pearl, Miss., last month. The Elite pros and other sports celebrities were paired with physically challenged hunters.
Grigsby, an avid archer and big-game hunter, teamed up with Hunter Jordan, 8, and his father Dwight.
"This was one of the most awesome events I've ever been involved with," Grigsby said. "There were some teary-eyed moments after seeing a young person accomplishing what they did at the event. It was one of the most special moments I've been a part of."
The eight-time BASS winner was touched by his quadriplegic partner's determination.
"He was an awesome kid. His attitude was so uplifting. Nothing has ever touched my heart more," Grigsby said.
Swindle's partner was 18-year-old Luke Tacacs, a special needs teenager.
"I was more proud when that kid shot that deer than I would have been if I did it," Swindle recalled. "I about tore that shooting house down when he shot that big deer, I was so fired up.
"I really discovered a lot about myself. I have a whole new appreciation for things. That experience there and the memories that I have are priceless. As we headed back to the Bass Pro Shop he was sitting in the back seat and he's hugging me the whole way."
In addition to the Elite Pros, other celebrity guides included MLB players Jason Davis, Chad Bradford and Jay Powell and former NFL players Scott Adams and Mike Pawlawski.
Federation Nation visit
Mike Iaconelli isn't the only recognizable person affiliated with BASS visiting a Federation Nation club lately.
BASS Founder Ray Scott addressed the inaugural gathering of the new Nevada BASS Federation Nation chapter at Bass Pro Shops in Las Vegas earlier this month.
Scott reminded club members that he held the first Bassmaster Classic on nearby Lake Mead in 1971.
"You have an incredible opportunity," the Las Vegas Review Journal reported Scott as saying, "because you have the benefit of the miseries and the suffering and the mistakes that have been made by bass clubs and BASS Federations for the last 35 or 40 years. We've learned a lot. And there's no perfect formula, there's no magic pill you can take in the Federation and dance into the sunrise If you work together you can move the biggest mountain out here."
Great holiday gift
This one is for the bass angler in the family The Series, a new hardcover coffee table book. The Series is a compilation of more than 800 photographs from the inaugural season of the Bassmaster Elite Series. The book provides a look at the people, places and anglers who made the 2006 season such a celebrated year. Included are photos of record catches, big bass, victories, defeats and memorable feats all beautifully captured in a full-color, 168-page collector's book. The Series is available for $29.95 from Bassmaster.com/EliteSeriesBook or by calling 877-799-2114.
Gerald Swindle's Triton will feature a new wrap in 2007 promoting Advance Auto Parts.
"I was really pleased that Advance Auto Parts, one of my premier sponsors, really stepped up to the plate," the 2004 Bassmaster Angler of the Year said. "I am really happy because they are a great company and a sponsor of BASS."
Did you know?
The state of Tennessee will have the most representatives in the inaugural Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship in February on Alabama's Lake Mitchell. Four pros from the Volunteer State qualified: Dianna Clark, Emily Shaffer, Cindy Hill and Lisa Sternard. There will be three anglers from Arkansas: Tammy Richardson, Lucy Mize and Tammie Muse. The top 12 pros in the Toyota Women's Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings will compete in the three-day event.
If I hadn't become a BASS pro
Elite Series pro Chris Lane would still be in sales. "Anything from valve repair to service to consulting for companies that's what I did before," the Florida angler said. "I did it for 11 years and the last five I was the top salesman for my company. Then I decided to go fishing."
They said it
"Bass were always my favorite, but whatever was in season is what I fished for. I applied a lot of the things that I learned fishing for other species toward my bass fishing, and it made me an extremely versatile angler." Two-time Bassmaster Classic champion and three-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam told the Louisville Courier-Journal about his early fishing education.