Morton’s Meeks inducted to MS Wildlife Hall of FameBy JAMES PHILLIPS,
Morton native Paul Meeks has been making nationally renowned turkey calls for more than 40 years, and last Friday night he was inducted into the Mississippi Wildlife Heritage Foundation Hall of Fame. The master turkey hunter was recognized and honored for his contributions to the Mississippi wildlife community over the last four decades.
Meeks hand makes some of the finest hunting lures, calls and rock pots in the United States and Canada, but his turkey calls are nationally renowned. The craftsman makes some of the most sought-after turkey calls in the country, but his decades of dedication teaching hunters of all ages how to use those calls is one of the additional traits that makes him a wildlife hall of famer.
“They call me some sort of artist for the calls I make,” Meeks said. “I enjoy everything about making the calls and I have enjoyed for the last 41 years. I really enjoy teaching kids, and hunters of all ages, how to use my calls. At the hall of fame ceremony, I had kids of the kids I taught how to use a turkey call many years ago coming up to meet me, and that was special to know I have been part of teaching multiple generations.”
The Mississippi Wildlife Heritage Museum and Hall of Fame is located in Leland and said in a prepared statement that inducting Paul Meeks in the hall of fame was recognition of him giving his time, expertise and passion to the Mississippi outdoors over the last 50 years. “Mr. Meeks has spent most of his life giving back to the Mississippi wildlife community, and this recognition and induction are both hard earned and well deserved.”
Meeks started making turkey calls from his home in Morton in 1974, and continues his work at age 71. “I have been doing this almost my whole life and I still love absolutely everything about it,” he said while sitting as his work table surrounded by calls at all stages of creation. He pointed to some logs in the corner of the workshop and said that is where it all starts. “I make my calls out of any type of wood I can get my hands on,” he said. “I never throw anything away. I always turn my scraps into something I can use.”
On this particular day Meeks was working with numerous types of wood as he was assembling his renowned turkey call boxes. “Right now, I’m working with several different woods. There’s black palm, birch, white oak, red oak, walnut and many other kinds right here. I just use anything that comes my way.”
Meeks takes great pride in the meticulous hand craftmanship in each of his turkey calls, but he has a love of teaching kids of all ages how to use the hand made calling creations. At the wildlife and outdoor shows Meeks goes to each year he puts on many of his signature teaching events named Hands On Turkey Calling for Kids and Beginners. “I call it hands on because I show them everything about the calls and then I bring them right up on stage and teach the how to use them,” he said.
“I have taught kids how to use turkey calls in every location I can think of,” Meeks recalled. “I have been to schools, churches, libraries, parks and museums and about any where else you can imagine.” Meeks nationwide craftmanship sets his name at the top of the hunting world, but his love of teaching generations of young hunters truly sets him apart from many in the industry.
At his speech during the hall of fame induction Meeks said that he wanted everyone to know that this is a family business that he has been working on for half a century. “I told them I have been working on building my name for as long as I can remember and we keep it all in the family.” His favorite assistant these days is his 12-year-old granddaughter Sunshine.
“My best help is my granddaughter Sunshine,” Meeks said. “She absolutely loves helping make the calls and lures and she goes to all the shows with me to help. She really loves everything about it just like I do.”
Meeks said that his company, Paul Meeks Outdoors, has shipped calls and lures to 49 states and even to Canada. “I have sold and shipped calls to every state in the country except for Hawaii, but we are working on getting turkey hunting going there to.” It is Meeks attention to detail that has helped his name become synonymous with quality in the turkey call industry.
“I have made turkey calls for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ted Nugget and may other famous people who heard about the work I do,” said Meeks. “I get a lot of orders from people that are looking for true quality in their calls and that’s what I provide to them.”
Meeks still completes all of his orders and prepares for all of his hunting shows from his shop on Highway 80 in downtown Morton and has no plans on moving anytime soon. The newly inducted hall of famer has no need to move from his native home because he has his family with him and those who want true quality calls and lures know where to find him.
“I’m 71 and I don’t feel like I have had an actual job in the last 40 years,” Meeks said. It’s that exact passion that has led to Meeks being honored as one of Mississippi’s hall of fame outdoorsmen.