Thirty-five years? It has been a good ride! It seems like only yesterday that I lit the fuse on starting TTHA. I worked at several trades while I was growing up as a young man— painter, bodyman, and carpenter, but none of these trades ever kept my interest. Seems like I just got bored with everything I did.
I thought to myself, “How in the world could I ever get tired of doing something that had to do with hunting and fishing, especially hunting?” I had been told by friends that what I wanted to do would take a lot more money than I had. Others told me go for it. It was about then that I remembered a little formula that was taught to me by a good friend named John Leininger who was head of sales for the American Sportsman’s Club.
I worked for that company for about four years and learned a lot about sales in the hunting and fishing industry, which was pretty new in 1975. My friend told me that to be successful in most any business, you first must find a need for something. Then create the desire (sales), and of course, you then supply the solution (product). That formula worked for me in creating Texas Trophy Hunters Association.
Success did not come easy for TTHA. There were many ups and downs through the years. In trying to make sure that a future in the outdoors was right for me, I began to analyze myself and figured that at 30 years old, it was time to make up my mind on what I was going to do with my life. I needed to be committed to this for the rest of my life. That decision and choice of commitment was TTHA.
One time after I answered my dad with, “I can’t,” he told me, “Son, can’t never could do nothing.” I’ve had to rehearse those words many times during the last 35 years. There have been so many times that I didn’t think I was going to make it through the year. Some of my friends would say, “It’s time to quit,” but I kept remembering what my dad said. America truly is the only place that I know where you can still make your dreams come true, if you have "the want to" bad enough. Close friends and their encouragement kept me going.
In the ’70s, there were such friends in San Antonio who were all pretty successful building contractors, and they liked what I was trying to do and encouraged me. I’m sure I can’t remember all of them, but here is my best shot in the order that I met them. There were Jim and Linda Farr (Jim has passed), Lawrence Anzaldua, Manuel Garza, Owen West, Bill Lyons, Wallace Boldt (passed), Phil Koehne, Gerry Geridetti, George Vogt, Frank Wallace, Dooley Gilchrist, and Richard Allercamp. We just recently buried Richard; he and Dooley were very close to TTHA and me. These men were there when I needed them.
There were others who loved TTHA and what it was doing. A couple of people who went through all the thick-and-thin times were Danny Hurtt, who is like a little brother to me, and of course, Jennie Crowder. She spent most of her adult life as TTHA’s secretary, and she, too, was always there to encourage me. As TTHA grew, we were like a family. Plainly—we all loved and believed in what we were doing. There were many others whom I respected and they made a lasting impression on me. Al Brothers, Murphy Ray, "Big Roy" Hindes, Mike Murphy, Ray Scott, Ray Sasser, Horace Gore, and Leonel Garza, just to name a few.
It seems like the first 10 years were the toughest. By 1985, TTHA had become pretty much of a household word among Texas hunters and the logo was on a lot of hunting trucks across the state. TTHA was the pioneer of what today we call “a hunting show.” I can remember in 1976, we had our first convention (as we called it) at the El Tropicano Hotel on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. From there and in later years it became known as the Hunters Extravaganza. We had our events in San Antonio, Houston, and Fort Worth. We even ventured into the Florida cities of Jacksonville and Tampa. We had Extravaganzas in New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.
We had several out-of-state TTHA members who hunted in Texas every year and came to our hunting events and liked what they saw. After about four years of watching us came the Dixie Deer Classic, the Minnesota Deer Classic, and many other deer hunting shows in states with whitetail deer hunters.
I love you all. TTHA is proud to have been a part of hunting in your lives. If you’re still a young person, spend a little time looking around our great state at the grand opportunities that await you. Make up your mind to do whatever is right for you in this world—and go for it! You young folks should Google up “If” by Rudyard Kipling.