In an ode to their founder and the inventor of the double reed duck call, Sure-Shot Game Calls unveils a limited edition Yentzen Caller.
Last year, the oldest living Worlds Duck Calling Champion passed away. James "Cowboy" Fernandez lived well into his 80s, and was a prominent part of Sure-Shot Game Calls up until his death in September of 2018.
Last month, Sure-Shot dedicated a limited edition line of exclusive black walnut Yentzen Classic Callers, with Cowboy's signature laser-engraved into the call. Aptly named the "Cowboy Classic" Yentzen Caller, each one is individually numbered and comes in a display case.
There are 1,959 calls in the exclusive series, in honor of Cowboy's 1959 Duck Calling Championship.
Sure-Shot's leader Charlie Holder, who took ownership of the company in 2011, speaks about Cowboy in a way I've always been intrigued by.
I met him years ago, and over time have learned a lot about Cowboy because of what Holder has said. He refers to Cowboy the way people speak about a true mentor. The way they speak about folks who left an imprint. The way they talk about influential outdoorsmen who helped them see the incredible amazement of the great outdoors.
"When Cowboy passed, we wanted to do something to honor him," explained Holder. "He was so proud of this company he co-founded 60 years ago. We thought this would be a fitting tribute to honor him and the call that he designed and helped him become a world champion."
I've been lucky enough to spend some time both duck hunting and talking further with Holder. Though I never got to meet Cowboy, his legacy on not only those who knew him, but the entire American waterfowl community, is undeniable.
To get a little more background, it's well worth it to visit their website to learn Sure-Shot's extensive history. The company was founded in partnership with George Yentzen, and Fernandez saw it rise to prestige ever since the two men designed and patented the first double reed duck call. They went on to do the same for the triple reed call, and the business became renowned as a leader in the duck hunting marketplace.
Cowboy, a force in the competitive circuit, was the first double-reed contestant to win the World Duck Calling Championship when it was held in Stuttgart, Arkansas, in 1959. He naturally used his double reed Yentzen Caller and ran the table. He was the first Texan to win the contest, too.
Numerous other competitors would use his calls, cementing the name Cowboy Fernandez into the foundation of the American outdoor community.
He'd go on to become an inductee to the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame, yet maintained his humble ways and passion for producing the best calls in the business.
Holder, now running the company out of Groves, Texas, is doing his best to carry on the tradition Cowboy and the early Sure-Shot team members helped establish. As he tells it, Cowboy would often offer a quick lesson or some calling advice for anyone brave enough to blow a call for him. His short tolerance for anything less than perfect was half joking, half not. He'd always have something to say, and though it might be blunt, it was usually still pretty useful.
Perhaps this was because he knew what it should sound like better than anyone else.
The "Cowboy Classic" Yentzen Caller is about as great an honor a duck hunting master like Fernandez can receive. Mine is sitting on a shelf in my office, and that's probably where it's going to stay. It's too special to bring out into the field, and frankly I feel less than worthy of trying to blow it. I'm not that great a caller as it is.
I'll brush up on other calls to get better, because I'm sure I wouldn't pass the grade for Cowboy's approval.
You can see Sure-Shot's complete line of calls and other gear on their website.