Just a few minutes from home, Ramsey catches up with long-time friend Johnny McKinion on the antler-strewn front porch of Camp King Chekka Bobo. They cover a lot of interesting ground, about nothing mostly, to include in no particular order deer, ducks, turkeys, Rankin County, Old Charter bourbon, hunting camp rules and traditions, food, family. And after 20-plus years of friendship, Ramsey finally has to ask: what the heck does King Chekka BoBo even mean?! Damned good answer!
Where Lies are Told and Memories are Made
And I mean, there’s been memories made out here that my kids will never forget that I’ll never forget and we could do 20 podcasts and I still couldn’t tell you all the stories about stuff that’s going on out here.
Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere and today I am not far from home, I’m right here in my home County of Rankin County, Mississippi, sitting on the front porch of King Chekka BoBo, the epicenter of Rankin County, if you believe today’s guest. I want to introduce you all today to one of my oldest friends and best friend. Now, we don’t see each other like we used to, he’s very busy, I’m very busy and I can remember back when we had babies, little kids that were knee high, we just thought life was busy. But then, you know how it is, they grow up and life gets really busy. I moved to Rankin County 21 years ago, it’s been decades since I’ve been here and didn’t know anybody here in central Mississippi until I met today’s guest Mr. Johnny McKinion and he became my tour guide and my introduction into life in Central Mississippi. Showed me everything I need to know and a whole lot of stuff I did not need to know. Johnny, good to see you, buddy.
Johnny McKinion: Good to see you brother and I’m glad to be here.
Ramsey Russell: Man, your camp ain’t nowhere where I thought it was. All these years, King Chekka BoBo man. And I thought it was all the way across the bottom, thought I had to come in another way, your direction got me lost this morning coming out here.
Johnny McKinion: I dropped your pin, it should have brought you right to the gate, you just didn’t know where you were going.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Well I got down here about a quarter mile, I’m thinking, oh crap, this one pin that took me somewhere else, I have to call them and get the direction and I pulled up and there’s your camp out and here we are, man.
Johnny McKinion: Yeah. And I’m glad to be here, brother. Look at this camp – we’ll talk about the camp for just a second, it started out we were – I grew up in a deer camp and of course I wanted my kids to grow up in a deer camp atmosphere like I did. And we were in a camp and all camps have drama, not this one but drama. And I just got tired of the drama. A kid to go out and shoot a deer and somebody said, oh he shouldn’t have shot that, she shouldn’t have shot that, it’s about making memories, it ain’t about the size of the deer, we all get excited to kill a big deer, we all do, but that’s not the hunting that I grew up doing. I grew up dog hunting and dog run a deer by because you didn’t shoot does back then, but a dog run a deer by you if it had –
Ramsey Russell: If had a chance to get caught.
Johnny McKinion: Exactly, right. You shot it. So I came out here this family land, this lands in my wife’s family and I ended up leasing it from her cousin and basically handpicked friends to come out here. And it’s like a sign that you see on the front of the camp house.
Ramsey Russell: What does it say?
Johnny McKinion: Where lies are told and memories are made. And I mean, there’s been memories made out here that my kids will never forget that I’ll never forget and we could do 20 podcasts and I still couldn’t tell you all the stories about stuff that’s going on out here.
Ramsey Russell: How long has this camp existed?
Johnny McKinion: We started this camp in 2000, was it 2002? I can’t. No, I think we’re like probably 10 or 11 years. So yeah, 10 or 11 years this camp’s been going.
Ramsey Russell: That’d be about right now. And where my beacon of memory is, we’re in the camp over there, like a lot of camps in the Deep South and around the world and you see it all over Instagram now all this horn porn is, everybody wants these big trophy bucks, which is a great ideal. Let these bucks get big and mature and worthy of a Boone and Crockett award. But I fell down that rabbit hole myself and raising kids into a camp where they can only shoot 18 inches wide, 22 inches main beam, that ain’t no fun. Man, when I was 10 years old, I’d have pushed you out of a tree, a 30ft tall tree to shoot a spoke horn. And I remember telling you man, Duncan, because kids needs to pull the trigger, they need to have fun. And Duncan just like his dad, he ain’t patient and I sent him down here with you and he got killed his first racked buck right here at King Chekka BoBo.
Johnny McKinion: He sure did. And what a great day that was because I don’t even remember – him and Peyton about the same age, they had to be 9 or 10 years old and I remember they were sitting in the stand together and Duncan killed that deer and I’ll never forget the phone because Duncan killed that deer that morning, he didn’t have a hat on. And I said, when went to take their picture, I said you got to have a hat and I just threw him an under armor hat and he put it on, the first phone call I got from you was, you couldn’t find anything better than an under armor hat to put on my son, you didn’t have getducks hat and put on my son or something, I didn’t. But the great thing about that was, was them two kids together in that stand and Duncan – I’m getting chill bumps just talking about that, Duncan killed him first deer and then that afternoon I took them and put them in another stand and then Peyton, Peyton had killed plenty of deer, but Peyton killed one. So they had both killed bucks that day. And man, it was big time for them boys and it was such a joy in my heart to see them share that experience. And that’s something they’ll never forget, never.
Ramsey Russell: No, I tell you what John it has been a long time, since I moved to Rankin County and met you and I just didn’t know a soul hardly fell in with Ducks Unlimited man, birds of a feather flock together and you were the chairman of Ducks Unlimited.
Johnny McKinion: I was the committee chairman for the Rankin County Ducks Unlimited Banquet and I think that’s how me and you met, you reached out to me and said, hey, I want to be involved in that and I want to say that that was the last year that, I actually got involved in that when I was in college and I was the chairman in Rankin County for many years and that was the last year that I was over that chapter.
Ramsey Russell: I didn’t know what to think of, when I first met you man, he was a different man, you didn’t have no beard and I think when I really kind of connected and hit it off and said, all right, this guy may be all right. It’s time you were working at like a company that sold fryers and grills and all kind of stuff, you all had a big warehouse, I think a second or third time I come by your shop to visit you all broke out some full metal realistic replica M16, fully automatic air soft guns and the war – I mean, these son of guns were sending BBs quick enough to dent metal pots and knock the paint off of Coke machines and probably put an eye out. And Lord, I think I kept coming by pretty regular after that and that was fun until the boss put the hiatus on that.
Johnny McKinion: Late in that afternoon, we’d get out in that warehouse and it was all out war. You were sneaking through those aisles and look when you got hit with that you got hit. When the boss started looking and we had dents in some of those pots we’re trying to sell, he said, hey, you all air soft war is over, you all can’t do that no more.
Ramsey Russell: Where the heck were you all getting those things?
Johnny McKinion: A buddy of mine that worked at that company who I actually worked for, one day he bought one and just fell in love with it before you knew it, he had a full blown arsenal. I mean, I think we even had one that was an M50 that would shoot them things. We had all different kind, they looked like real guns and before long, everybody was coming up, hey we want to get in on this war with you all.
Ramsey Russell: That was a whole different time, the kids were small man. Peyton is a big old boy, now we’ll talk about that. But these kids were knee high, belt high and we all started meeting, running around. And one of my earliest memories I remember us, you all came over to Willow Break and duck hunted one time and youth weekend, maybe once or twice. But I remember and I was telling Anita about this on the way over here today, I can remember we took Duncan and Peyton, I mean, they could have been 7-8 years old, we took them up to Arkansas to go spring snow goose hunt. And they were full blown, full of piston vinegar talking little boys, best friends and I just remember getting home after that weekend and going and take a shower, walking to my house and pouring, not one but two big tall whiskey drinks just to lower my blood pressure a little bit. But that was a heck of a weekend.
Johnny McKinion: It was a heck of a weekend and they both killed banded geese that weekend.
Ramsey Russell: They both killed banded geese that weekend, isn’t that something?
Johnny McKinion: That’s something. We might not have killed like 1500 or 1600 snow geese that weekend, but that’s something them kids will never forget and it was fun. And it was hard because it wasn’t like me and you going out there and tackle them, you had to have the right scenario to get those kids in on that sneak, to get them geese and it wore us out.
Ramsey Russell: Well, it was a time of year that the geese were on water and walking across the fields, picking up dead and crippled geese was a chore. And I’m glad we had a couple of energetic little boys like that because they caught something I couldn’t caught.
Johnny McKinion: Now, they’d probably look at us and go, you all go get a wig.
Ramsey Russell: No, we ain’t going to do that. Peyton has grown up a lot, are you proud of him playing football?
Johnny McKinion: I am so ecstatic. I tell you a quick story about that, when Peyton was little and when we was going to the kids doctor and they take those measurements and stuff and they put them in and say, oh he’s in this percentile and that doctor looked at me and he said, John, he said, Peyton’s going to be about 6’7. And I kind of looked at him, of course, everybody in my family’s tall, my pawpaw was, my wife’s tall, for girl, she’s 5’9, 5’10 and he said, Peyton’s going to be 6’7 and I looked at him, I said, you’ve lost your mind. I said, there ain’t no way that kid’s going to be 6’7. I said, but if he is, I said he gets an NFL contract, I said, I’ll slow you a little bit on the side. But anyway, when Peyton turned 15, brother, he rocketed it, that child is now 6’9, 320 pounds plays football for the University of Southern Mississippi.
Ramsey Russell: Last time I saw him, I think it was last summer at the gym and of course I’m in there just doing, pushing a few weights around like an old man, he come in there and put every single plate around the bench on that bar, I thought I didn’t know how the bar held at all.
Johnny McKinion: It’s fun to go in the gym and watch because everybody just kind of stops and starts staring because you’re right I mean, he’s a big young and I’m proud of him.
Ramsey Russell: How much is he bench pressing, you have any idea? A bunch.
Johnny McKinion: That’s a good question, I couldn’t answer. If I answered on this podcast and he hears it and I’m wrong, he’s like daddy, that’s so wrong, it’s too much or it’s not enough.
Ramsey Russell: It’s a bunch, I can tell you that.
Johnny McKinion: I plead the 5th on that one. But that kid is his life is football, of course, at the age, he’s at 19 and girls and hunting. And we talked about that before we started this podcast, I grew up hunting, my daddy hunted, my pawpaw was a big hunter, of course, they squirrel hunted, they dove hunted the big thing was they quail hunting. They raised dogs, my pawpaw raised bird dogs and that’s what they were into. My granddaddy didn’t deer hunt, he said, I don’t see how anybody would go out and sit in the woods and try to shoot something as big as a cow, he said, there’s nothing to it. And neither one of them turkey hunter. And if they did turkey hunt, if they killed a turkey, it was by chance but they were not turkey hunters. And of course, that’s probably the biggest part of me and Peyton’s life. Daddy got into duck hunting once he moved out of my pawpaw’s house and that’s how I got into duck hunting and he was big in the duck hunting and I was too and now Peyton is. So if I had to rank hunting, it would probably turkey, duck, deer in that order. But we’ve been blessed and that child is eat up with hunting and I’m so glad. Of course, I got a daughter, my daughter Morgan, she is eat up with hunting and she’s got a boyfriend that’s eat up with it. So hunting is a big, huge part of our life.
King Chekka BoBo Deer Camp
Talk about that murder board. The first thing I noticed when I got here.
Ramsey Russell: In King Chekka BoBo right here, I know it’s convenient to everybody’s house, but I know you all spend your holidays over here. I see them big old meal spread you all lay out on the bar in here, at holiday time, Christmas, where you all are. In a lot of respect this ain’t just deer camp, this is home.
Johnny McKinion: It is. It’s home to us and everybody invited, we invite people say, hey, we’re going to be there at Thanksgiving, we’re going to have a spread you all come eat, people will show up and eat. We do the same thing at Christmas. Of course, we have Christmas Day at the house, but we stay at this camp when hunting season is open. We are here.
Ramsey Russell: John, since I’ve known you, food is a big part of Johnny McKinion’s life. It’s a big part of your aura.
Johnny McKinion: It is. And I guess that’s part of growing up in the south and of course you all can’t see me on this podcast, but I had bloomed up pretty good, I think I was 360 something pounds 2 years ago and I went to the heart doctor, he said, son, you’re walking heart attack and I got down to 240, I think I got down to last year. And of course, Peyton got me back in the gym, you see my biceps right there. And I’ve gained weight but it’s all muscle, I’m still wearing the same pants size. But man, food is a big thing and I’ll tell you how big it is. So here at camp we don’t have a whole lot of rules and of course you got to stay in the state regulations, accidents are going to happen and you can see it, we got a murder board.
Ramsey Russell: Talk about that murder board. The first thing I noticed when I got here.
Johnny McKinion: The murder board is some racks that are hanging up here at the deer camp and if you mess up and shoot a deer that shouldn’t be shot, it goes on the murder board and you get your name by it and you got to sign it. The fine for getting on that murder board is you owe the camp a whole rib eye. And of course, you know how meat prices are now, that’s probably equivalent to a pretty good fine at any other camp, but you owe the camp a whole rib eye. Not cut in the steaks, you owe a whole rib eye and it comes up here and then we decide it. Usually we cook them and I love a prime rib and that’s usually how we cook them. But that’s your fine is a whole –
Ramsey Russell: Who cooks it? You were telling me that earlier, who cooks it?
Johnny McKinion: Brent Robinson, who’s the head chef guy for Jenna Benna, which is a restaurant here in Rankin County or Georgia Blue he’s in the camp and we’ve kind of turned over the cooking duties. So when we get something fine like that were like, hey, Brent, you got to cook. But we’re cooking, every weekend we cook something I mean, it’s grilling, frying. I mean, you see the deep fryers and grills, but food is a big part of camp life, it ain’t ham sandwiches you going to eat when you’re out of here.
Ramsey Russell: Part of my initial tour, my introduction to Rankin County, for folks listening, this ain’t the duck epicenter Mississippi far from it, deer, turkeys and everything else. But as I got to know you, Johnny, you started bringing me around and I mean, back roads, country roads, all that good stuff but there were dinner clubs back at the time.
Johnny McKinion: Yeah, we had a little get together. It was every Wednesday night that we would go down and there was two of them going on at the time. You had the anti-accrue down there, which is still going on and then went out to Limb Adam’s house and just a bunch of guys getting together, tossing washers, fellowship, somebody, different cooked every week. I remember them giving you a hard time, you brought – what did we cook that time? It was some kind of goose jelly or something. But that gave you a hard time. I loved it but duck and goose is a special thing and some people love it, some people don’t, but that’s all good –
Ramsey Russell: I might as well have been cooked tiger nuts, Rankin County and bring a goose to that crowd, man.
Johnny McKinion: Oh, it was good, man. It was good. I never forget that time, we were out there and I can’t remember who it was, we were talking about something about Rankin County, somebody looks at you and said, well, you’re an outsider. Never forget the look on your face, he was like outsider? I’ve been here for 20 something years and it was like but you wasn’t born here, you’re an outside.
Ramsey Russell: That’s right. And that’s the way it is.
Johnny McKinion: That’s the Rankin County mentality right there baby, that’s the mentality. And while we’re talking about food, we might as well go into the story man, you were talking about Old Charter. Let’s talk about bourbon for a minute.
BS’ing About Bourbon
Let me tell you all about Old Charter, it’s old and a big history behind Charter.
Ramsey Russell: Well, that’s what I’m getting at is like, we go to supper clubs and if it was your night to cook and say there was 30 members sooner or later it’s your turn and you show up with food for 30 folks and you cook everything from hot dogs to goose, hamburgers, fried fish, crawfish, I missed them Wednesday and Thursday nights John, I ain’t going to lie to you.
Johnny McKinion: We cook bull nuts one night, frog legs.
Ramsey Russell: We did. Frog legs, it was always good, it was always fun. But along with the groceries, you showed up with two handles of Old Charter. And it wasn’t 2 handles of liquor, 2 handle of Old Charter.
Johnny McKinion: That’s right. That’s exactly right.
Ramsey Russell: And I took a bottle of Old Charter down to Argentina one time and kept it back in my room just because there’s all kinds of brown clear water out there on the bar for a drink, but it’s Old Charter. And I was sitting there making a drink guy walked by and goes Godly, they still make that? We make it, he goes, my granddaddy drank and I ain’t seen that in 30 years. I go, yeah, they still make it.
Johnny McKinion: Hey, look and you got podcast members all over the country listening and I know some of them are going, what in the hell is Old Charter? Let me tell you all, this bourbon is made by Buffalo Trace, that’s who owns a distillery. Everybody knows what Buffalo Trace is. Let me tell you all about Old Charter, it’s old and a big history behind Charter. They used to have 7-year-old, 5-year-old bottling bond, 10-year-old, which the 10-year-Old Charters is the Holy Grail. And don’t get me wrong now, I know there’s better bourbons out there and if I come to your house and you don’t have Old Charter, I’m going to drink what you got. If you’re offering, I’m drinking, I’m going to drink it. But if I’m drinking and its Old Charter and people say, well, why do you drink it, that’s not the best bourbon. Well, we all were through that period in our lives where we wasn’t old enough to drink and we was going to sneak a little bit where you had to get what you get your hands on. My daddy drank Old Charter and it’s kind of like the people who drink Diet Coke, why you drink Diet Coke? Well, I’ve drank it for so long, I like it the taste of it, I don’t like to taste anything else. Well, that’s me with Old Charter, if I can find it, I’m going to get it. Great story about finding it though you all, when you get out of Mississippi, it’s an Easter egg, you can’t find it, it’s an Easter egg. We walked into a store in Alabama and I looked at the guy and I said, hey man, I’m looking for some Old Charter and he had a feather duster and he was dusting off some bottles, he turned around real slow and he looked at me, he said, I bet you all are from Mississippi. And I was like, well, yeah, why? And he said, because you are all the only ones that come in here looking for that right gut. He said, I got it, he said, but I got it in the back, he said, because nobody here buys it. He said, I’ll make you a deal on the case, he said, I think I’ve had it for 10 years, of course, I bought it, but I got some in the truck right now.
Ramsey Russell: It’s a staple. And I told that old guy I said, I’ve been drinking since I was 15, I ain’t going to stop now. But like you say, when you’re young – I had actually gotten into fisticuffs with a kid and high school, he ended up on the hood of his brand new shiny mustang. And the following morning, my daddy knocked on my door and said you fixing to pay for the hood of that car. So I ended up getting a job at some stables, man it was kind of best penalty I ever had hanging around with a bunch of Cowgirls and a bunch of horses, I got to get ride horses, but I cleaned stalls all day, every day and till I paid for the hood of that car. But my boss, we’d go to rodeos and horse shows and whatnot like that and he always had Old Charter behind the seat. And so when he was off doing whatever he was doing, we knew – and he didn’t mix back then you drank it and got yourself up under his water cooler on back of his truck and washed it down and it grew on me, especially for a mixed drink type thing. Now, the funny story was, I was up in Delaware one time and some host texted me and said, hey, we’re fixing to run by the liquor store, what do you drink? I said, don’t worry about it. And he goes, no, what do you drink? I said, Old Charter and I show up, they got the finest bottle of Rye WhistlePig whiskey, I mean, son, it was fine. And they said we couldn’t find that old fancy stuff, you drink this. I said, well, my is $25 a handle but thank you very much.
Johnny McKinion: Hey, for your younger kids who’s listening, fine handle, you call it a handle and I love calling it a handle Old Charter and it ain’t been that many years ago. Used to have a glass handle and I guess glass got so expensive, they don’t even – sometimes you get a bottle of Charter and it’s in plastic now, it’s not even in the bottle. And that’s pretty good because as my wife will tell you, I usually put it on the back seat, it’ll fall over. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve opened the back door, that truck and it rolled out and busted on my feet. So usually when she goes and gets me one now she gets one of the plastic just so it won’t break.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Well, that’s what I want. Now, speaking of good liquor, I used to come by your office sometime around Christmas or Thanksgiving you had a sales rep or somebody to come by that office and he gave it this little old, half 1/5 or 3/5th bottles in little red velour bags and you broke that out one time, this meant to me, Johnny must be a good friend cause folks, let me tell you what, it was the finest whiskey I’ve ever had.
Johnny McKinion: Van Winkle Bourbon.
Ramsey Russell: Well, you didn’t know that because the following year you got another bottle and gave it to me. Once you found out it was Van Winkle Bourbon overspill, I didn’t get my little red. And when I did, that one bottle you gave me, I took it there to camp to my little camp and I got liquor bottles all over the top of that, you couldn’t find that. You’re talking about the Easter eggs and that’s how long was it was gone. I didn’t share that with nobody.
Johnny McKinion: Van Winkle Bourbon.
Ramsey Russell: It was Van – I guess that guy was buying like the overrun or something.
Johnny McKinion: He would and it was private label. That’s why you really didn’t know it was Van Winkle Bourbon till you had to read that label really close but it was private label for his company.
Ramsey Russell: Unbelievable. Johnny, you were talking about this club right here, what are you all’s rules for this club? Because you’re right about the drama. A lot of camps have drama because I love people but some people suck and you get them in a camp, camp sucks because of the rules and the drama. And we all know if you’ve ever been in the camp there’s drama involved. What are you all’s rules here to keep the drama down?
Hunting Club Rules: Tips for a Peaceful Camp
Johnny McKinion: When we started this camp, I told everybody, I said, look, we’re all paying for the lease on this I said, every square inch of this property is ours, it ain’t mine, it ain’t yours. I said, if you want to go out and put you a stand in a tree and not tell anybody, I said, that’s fine. I said, but if somebody happens to find it or walk up on it and I said, you’re not here that day and you’re not going to hunt it, I said, they hunt. I said, they don’t have to call you and say, hey, can I hunt this stand? I said, because we all hunt this. We got food plots everywhere, we got to board up there, you hang where you want to hunt, but we don’t have anywhere that’s off limits to anyone. You may be hunting deer and there’s not many of us here, ain’t nobody going to encroach on you, if they know you’re hunting a deer, they’re not going to go back there and jump on it. But if you just go through a stand up it’s camp stand. But as far as our deer go, shoot what makes you happy. 8 point comes out their 2-year-old, 8 point and you’re happy shooting it, shoot it and we kill big deer. Biggest deer we’ve killed, we’ve killed –
Ramsey Russell: Well, then what’s the murder board?
Johnny McKinion: The murder board would be – nobody’s going to go out, a man of my age, I’m not going to go out and just shoot old 6 point. But if you happen to and I can’t give you a hard time, it goes on the murder board.
Ramsey Russell: If everybody’s hankering for steak, it’s time to go on the murder board.
Johnny McKinion: That’s exactly right. You saw on our board over there, a button buck in Mississippi is considered a dough because it hadn’t had antlers. And when people go bow hunting and get excited, somebody’s going to shoot one, that’s the murder board. Of course, we can’t put a button buck on the board, that’s the murder board deer. You’re buy a rib eye, if you shoot a button buck, it’s just going to happen. But the biggest deer we’ve killed out here is 150 inches, so I mean, we got big deer but we don’t have 40 or 50 big deer. We may kill 2 big deer a year and the rest of them are deer that you’re going to be happy getting your picture made with. And if you’re happy, we’re happy. We want the kids to be happy. We want kids to go out and say, oh, I had a great time, I want to go back because that’s what this is all about. To me, it’s about the kids. It’s about the fellowship and the kids, that’s what a camp is all about.
Ramsey Russell: My Odyssey as a deer hunter, a trophy hunter it’s like a pendulum that has swung from one extreme to the other and now it’s comfortably back where it belongs. And going down to wanting to be a deer biologist, wanting to be Dr. Deer back in the college days, going down to South Texas, seeing them great big old Boone and Crockett deer and they were cultivating these massive bucks free range coming back and applying that to an ideal man, big buck to where it just raising kids, it was no fun. It wasn’t no freaking fun, man. It ain’t no fun, like I got a bad reputation or good reputation depending how you’re looking at our camp. We’ve got to shoot spikes and none of the old guy’s going to shoot them spike. Man, I run out of daylight before I run out of bullets on spike when I go out on the spike killing for ray because it’s all tagged and legal and stuff like that. But now when I go deer hunting, I don’t care, I’m as happy shooting a buck at 8 as a Boone and Crockett buck, I just don’t care. I’m out there with my friends and eating and drinking and having fun and getting away from anything that’s stressful and I just want to put the crosshairs on something here go what? That’s just me. I don’t have this trophy ideal, I just like to be out there and into it and really and truly, man, the uglier and freakier and more colors that buck is, the happier it makes me. Last buck I shot at my camp, few people been looking at him, Forrest, of course done passed 55 times and when he saw that deer on the skinning rack, he said, daddy, that is the ugliest deer I have ever seen. He was older, didn’t have a tooth in his head and double main beam kind of short on one side if you caught that and might have scored 75 inches, I was proud as I can be of.
The Necessity of Conservation
89 cents of every dollar raised by the National Wild Turkey Federation goes back into the mission, goes back into conservation.
Johnny McKinion: There you go. And you brought up the point about being with friends and that’s a big part of deer camp. But I think that’s why turkey and duck are a little bit ahead of me on deers being part of my favorites. Because when you go duck hunting, you’re not by yourself, you’re with somebody else, maybe 4 or 5 guys, maybe 7 or 8 guys in a blind or standing in the timber, when you’re cutting up telling jokes and you know when to be quiet and that’s the beauty of duck hunting, that’s the beauty of hunting. Of course, you can’t do the same thing with turkey hunt. But usually when I turkey hunt Peyton’s with me or I’m turkey hunting with somebody, it’s a social part, there’s a social aspect of hunting that makes it so great. And you see on social media nowadays everybody’s like, oh why are you trying to get such and such into hunting and why you want – folks, if we don’t get more people involved in hunting, believe it or not, it’s a dying sport. Kids these days aren’t being brought up hunting and they’re not liking it. And what people don’t understand is without the sale of hunting licenses, the sport’s going to die. Without the sale of the taxes that come back to conservation from the sale of tents and shells, everything of that, you’re getting a tax back on that and without people buying it, it’s going to die. We’ve got to have that money.
Ramsey Russell: We got to have the money. We got to have the interest and the political pull and everything else. But we’re already getting into now when you start talking kids like, let’s go back to Duncan and Peyton being 8-9 years old, now we’re getting into their parents. Their daddy didn’t have nowhere wasn’t raised hunting like me and you were and now it’s starting to loop back on itself. That’s crazy. You know what I’m saying? We’ve got to get more people out there hunting. Johnny, do I remember that at some point in time in your history you were law enforcement.
Johnny McKinion: I was. I went to college and got a degree in criminal justice, come out of school, went to work for Rankin County Sheriff’s Department, was there for a while, my main passion – I love law enforcement, I wanted to be a conservation officer. I want to be a game warden, I want to be Mr. Green Jeans because that was two passions I could put together, the hunting world and law enforcement. And I was blessed enough to get that job and hats off to anybody who does. It was the greatest job I ever had. I’m fixing to be 52 years old and they call me tomorrow and said, hey, we want you to come back, I’d go back. I hate every day that I left it. And hats off to the guys who did it because law enforcement aren’t paid what they should be paid, no way, especially conservation officers and mastery. When my wife called me, the day she called me and told me that she was pregnant with my little boy, I sat there and I thought about it and I said, I love what I’m doing, I don’t go to work every day because I love what I’m doing. I’m getting up, I’m doing what I enjoy and I feel like that’s what the Lord put me on this Earth to do was to be in conservation. And I love that job but I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to give my family the life that I wanted to give them making what I was making. So I left there, I went back to the sheriff department because it was a raise. I took a cut in pay to be a conservation, I went back to the sheriff department and I think I was there a year and I got to call in to go into private business with the cooking company and I worked for them, I was there for about 15 years. Left there, went to work for an import company, we were importing fishing lures for a Strike King, Tungsten weights and stuff like that and then all of a sudden a job with the National Wild Turkey Federation just fell in my lap. A buddy called me and said, hey, we got an opening and then I think you’d be good as a regional director.
Ramsey Russell: Well, I remember when you left the cooking company it kind of down in the dumps, whatever like that, it was a good job. But it’s like, I’ve seen it time and time again and you can only see this kind of stuff looking in the rear view mirror. You come to a fork in the road, take it, just keep moving forward. And when I heard that my buddy Johnny McKinion, who I met when he was Chairman of the Ducks Unlimited, when I heard you were now going to be the NWTF guy for a bunch of the state of Mississippi, I’m like, holy cow, the good Lord’s been looking after him. You don’t find your calling in life son.
Johnny McKinion: You’re right. I think you talked about – and my mantra in life is everything happens for a reason. The Lord closes the door and the Lord opens the door, everything happens for a reason, no matter what happens in your life, the worst thing that ever happens, there’s a reason that that happens and it’s going to lead down another path. So 7 years ago, I went to work for National Wild Turkey Federation and I was over in North Louisiana and absolutely loved it. I was blessed to be moved back to Mississippi, I’ve been here for 6 years. I got some great committees, my whole job people say, oh, you’re a party planner. Well, that’s basically what I do. I make sure that fundraising events happen to fund the mission of the National Wild Turkey Federation. And I’m going to jump off into that real quick because there’s a lot of people in this that don’t believe in Ducks Unlimited, don’t believe in Turkey Federation, don’t believe in Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, don’t believe in any – you should give to every conservation organization in this country till it hurts. If it has to do with conservation give, give if you can’t give at least just become a member because those –
Ramsey Russell: There’s time and money.
Johnny McKinion: They are only as strong as the members that they have and you’ve got to have members for it to work. 89 cents of every dollar raised by the National Wild Turkey Federation goes back into the mission, goes back into conservation. And you hear people say, oh CEO is making this and this, well show me a corporation where somebody with connections as a CEO, is making a good salary. But if 89 cents of every dollar and you go on charity navigator and look that up, that money’s going back into the Turkeys, it’s going back in there. And you also hear, well they’re not spending money in my county, well NWTF does not own property. We can’t just go into a county and say we think we ought to do this for the Turkeys. We partner with state and federal agencies on projects that they’re doing that are benefiting the wild turkey that’s what we do. So our matching funds in the state of Mississippi is 9 to 1. For every dollar raised, $9. So, to make that math easy, if we raise $1000 we turn it into $9000 from grants and funds that are put with those matching dollars.
Ramsey Russell: That’s pretty good. But you are a party planner.
Johnny McKinion: I am a party planner.
Ramsey Russell: And you are a natural party planner.
Johnny McKinion: Well, I appreciate that. I have a good time what I’m doing and I’m actually over the majority of the state of Mississippi, I was just north part COVID hit hurt us just like it hurt everybody else, some great employees were let go, by the grace of God, I’m still here. So my territory is a little bit bigger down the state of Mississippi. I do have a guy working the far south and he’s got all the state of Louisiana. So there’s regional directors in every state, some states have 2, some 3, some just one like here.
Ramsey Russell: How many banquets a year are you covering?
Johnny McKinion: Right now, I got 46 banquets. And that’s not stressed out over the year now because Ducks Unlimited banquets happens during duck season, turkey banquets are happening during turkey season. The majority of them want them to happen before turkey season’s here. From September the 5th to January 31st in the state of Mississippi you’re not getting anybody do anything. When dove season opens, they’re doving, they’re footballing, they’re deer hunting, footballing. So January 31st is when my year starts rolling hard, we start those banquets. They want to happen by March 15th. I can’t do that many then. So I’m through my real busy last 3 weeks, I think I did 18 banquets.
Ramsey Russell: Wow. And your wife do kind of moonlights as your wingman on stuff.
Johnny McKinion: Yeah, so she retired from the state, she’s in private practice now, she’s a court reporter and when she doesn’t have jobs, I’ll make her go with me, I don’t make her go with me, she loves going with me. She’s a socialite like I am. Everybody knows Reed, if you don’t know Reed, you don’t know me because I talk about her a lot.
Ramsey Russell: Ain’t never met – neither one of you ever met a stranger?
Johnny McKinion: Never.
Rankin County, MS Hunting and Fishing
…you went out and shot doves, you come back, you cleaned dove, you ate lunch, took a nap, went back hunted that afternoon.
Ramsey Russell: Talk about growing up Johnny here in Rankin County. I mean what was your indoctrination into hunting? Talk about growing up hunting? Because I know your daddy and your brother, I know your brother crappie fish a lot with your daddy, but let’s hear some stories about growing up in Rankin County hunting and fishing.
Johnny McKinion: So, first of all, I’m an outsider like you. We moved to Rankin County when I was 14, I was born in South Jackson. Well, I was actually born in Meridian, we lived in Meridian far Snatches, then we moved South Jackson. We moved here when I was 14 years old. So I’ve been in Rankin County, I’m not going to do the math 14, I’m almost 52. But hunting just a huge part of my life, I mean, it’s just like everybody else. Our season kicked off with dove hunting and we had some Mac Daddy dove hunts over in forest, my pawpaw and his friends and that’s where we kicked off. Great squirrel dog. We squirrel hunted a lot.
Ramsey Russell: Was it a big social affair or just family?
Johnny McKinion: It was more family and friends. It wasn’t a big cooking deal. I mean, we went hunted, went back showed up at mama’s house, she cooked breakfast that morning, you went out and shot doves, you come back, you cleaned dove, you ate lunch, took a nap, went back hunted that afternoon. I mean, that was it, but it wasn’t big social affair, it was family and just a few friends. It was the same people every year on that field but they’ve grown into a great big social affair, big cooking deals and like we said that’s a big part of hunting. But I remember squirrel hunts, going with daddy and pawpaw and there wasn’t many times that we went, we didn’t come back with limits of squirrels. And nowadays you got people squirrel hunt, we do and I got a guy who comes up here and take the squirrels after we squirrel hunt, we cleaned that one of them squirrels. We’re big rabbit hunters, we cleaned everyone in rabbits. I remember Mama getting up cooking rabbit, gravy and biscuits in the morning, there ain’t no a whole lot of people’s cooking wild game like they used to. I couldn’t tell you the last time that I cooked squirrel.
Ramsey Russell: Well, I called you up last night asked you for some and I couldn’t believe you didn’t have some in the freezer.
Johnny McKinion: Because I gave them all away.
Ramsey Russell: They’re a mess to clean but they worth it. Duncan and I had a – I had not squirrel hunted in forever. And Duncan was at that barefoot age with a pellet rifle, I was 22 and we’d go to camp and 3 days later when it’s time to leave, he’d come out of woods with who knows what, he’d just disappear. And his mama had a tradition at home with kids, they didn’t get birthdays, they got birthday weeks and somewhere during that week they got to take a day off of school. And they were all pretty good at banking that day until something important, but Duncan’s birthday failed during squirrel season and that was right up his alley and so he talked me into years – he must, I guess about that age him and Peyton run around we talked about. We had a long standing tradition, we’d go to willow break and there’s just a few patches of woods, a lot of black squirrels, red squirrels, a few cat squirrels and that was our deal. And he’d go one way and I’d go to the other and I’m telling you what son, unless I got extremely lucky I’d go kill a few and he’d come out with his vest, be hanging off his back, dragging the ground with all the squirrels he shot. And we started doing – our tradition was, we’d go over on like a Thursday, Friday hunt squirrels for a couple of days and that boy, I don’t got the patience to really clean the squirrel, that kid could clean the squirrel and there not be a fleck of hair on it. And that is expert level squirrel cleaning when you can clean the squirrel and there ain’t a fleck of hair on it. And then we started making a squirrel dumpling, which is my version of it is, real good chicken and dumplings with a whole chicken and butter, lots of butter and then a whole bunch of debone squirrel on top of it son, it’s fine. I mean, it’s so thick you can stick a spoon up in it.
The Thrill of Small Game Hunting
Everybody starts with squirrels and rabbits, I think the small game is just universal man, it’s just anybody anywhere can squirrel and rabbit hunt.
Johnny McKinion: What about squirrel head? You ever cooked squirrel head?
Ramsey Russell: I’ve eaten them but I ain’t never eaten the brain, not that I wouldn’t.
Johnny McKinion: I’m not. I remember we was at the camp one time with a buddy of mine, we walked in and his pawpaw was cooking, he said, man I got you all supper cooked, I said what we having? He said, we’re having squirrel heads, Ruta bakers and old Milwaukee beer. And I turned and I looked at him and I said, how far is town? I said, cause I’m going to get a hamburger. Because I’m looking over in that pot and squirrel heads, it was staring up at me and said, yeah, I’m not doing that.
Ramsey Russell: No, the cheeks are real good on them things, they really are. I don’t know why but it’s a good little morsel of meat.
Johnny McKinion: Takes a lot of cheeks to fill me up.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Well, that’s why I boil them down in the power boiler get the meat off the bone and then put it all in a dumpling and that’s as fine as it gets. Duncan and I even had our own little secret ingredient we put in that squirrel dumplings and then mama and brother and sister would come over and we’d eat squirrel dumplings and do something else this weekend.
Johnny McKinion: You brought up crappie while ago, my dad was a big crappie fishermen and my brother got into it and up there on the Ross Barnett they got crappie rigs that looked like traveling bass fisherman. I mean, no telling how much money tied up in those crappie rigs. I love fishing now, don’t get me wrong. But I’m more of a pond fisherman, love pond fishing. You get out there with daddy and a boat, crappie wouldn’t be biting. And you’d be like, we’ve been here for an hour and they’re just not biting. He’s like, they’re going to start biting in 15 minutes. When you hear that, they’re going to start biting in 15 minutes and you’d be four hours into the trip. They’d tear them up if I go, we just didn’t do it. But crappie filets is like gold. I mean, we have fish cooking’s out here and most of the time we’re buying boxes of catfish because you can’t get Scott to bring you crappie. I mean, my cousins calling him every weekend, he said, hey, bring me some crappie and I’ll trade you this, I’ll trade you, I’ll come cut
Ramsey Russell: He still crappie fishes a lot?
Johnny McKinion: Oh, yeah. If he’s home, he’s probably out there today.
Ramsey Russell: Did you and your dad turkey hunt? Was he a turkey hunter?
Johnny McKinion: Daddy was not a turkey hunter. I got into –
Ramsey Russell: A deer hunter?
Johnny McKinion: Daddy would deer hunt, he sure would. He wasn’t as big in the deer hunting as I was, but he was in deer camp and we went deer hunting, but he was not a turkey hunter.
Ramsey Russell: Everybody starts with squirrels and rabbits, I think the small game is just universal man, it’s just anybody anywhere can squirrel and rabbit hunt. But did you deer hunt with your daddy?
Johnny McKinion: Oh, yeah. We deer hunted.
Ramsey Russell: Did you kill your first deer with him or over dog?
Johnny McKinion: I killed my first deer, they were running dogs. I sure did kill my first deer. I didn’t kill my first buck with him, but I killed my first deer hunting with him over in Morton, Mississippi. Sure did.
Ramsey Russell: What was it?
Johnny McKinion: A doe.
Ramsey Russell: Really?
Johnny McKinion: Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: I regret and I don’t have many regrets, but I regret not having aggressively pursued getting Forrest and Duncan on a good dog hunter into a good dog. By the time just after I got out of high school dog hunting in Mississippi became extremely controversial.
Johnny McKinion: And it’s still controversial to this day.
Ramsey Russell: To run dogs, you got to have a big track of land because once they’re on the trail they’re gone. They’re going to cross fences, cross properties, cross this cross that and I get that and in the day and age you all got your club property here, you got your thing going on, you don’t want a pack of hounds running through here. But you want to talk about a Southern sport. I can still remember after high school, I was in a camp down in Port Gibson, a big dog club and back in those days you couldn’t shoot doe except on doe day. But man, the dogs baying off in the holler and if you’ve got the draw and happened to be with them, the clatter of hooves on frozen ground approaching you and those deer streaking through the thicket coming through and you’re just looking for white horns, I can still remember my heartbeat those days, it was exciting stuff. It was fun. And a lot of days here in the Deep South when it’s 75° in deer season, those deer just sitting there and laying up in the thicket, chewing their cuds, they’ll get to move when the howl started barking.
Johnny McKinion: I got a big smile on my face because you’re talking about the ground being frozen. Back then dog hunting’s stand was an old piece of metal stapled to a tree with a number on it. You’re going to stand 64, well stand 64 was basically you standing next to that tree. It wasn’t a deer stand up in the tree, it wasn’t a climbing stand, you were at stand 46.
Ramsey Russell: You need to better move a little bit.
Johnny McKinion: You can move a little bit. But you know what? If the dogs didn’t come by you, you was there for a long time. This was back before – nobody had a 3 wheeler or a 4 wheeler or ranger, they took and dropped you off and you got back to camp when they come and picked you up. Well, guess what if the dogs went the other way and everybody with a vehicle went the way the dogs went there ain’t no telling how long you’d stand there. Hey, there wasn’t no Sitka gear back then, there wasn’t no Drake waterfowl, there was no insulated. You got an insulated walls jumpsuit from Walmart.
Ramsey Russell: I was so proud of mine, I still had it.
Johnny McKinion: It wasn’t very thick. You was lucky if you had a pair that zipped all the way up the leg. You had an old pair of rubber boots, some wool socks and you had that white long johns that you bought at Walmart. And if it was 15° outside, that’s what you had on and you froze absolutely to death.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, but you loved every minute of it.
Johnny McKinion: Loved every minute of it. I mean, that’s it. That’s memories. I remember one time putting wool socks on and putting plastic bags over them because I thought it hold the heat in more.
Getting the Turkey Slam
And when I got this job at the National Wild Turkey Federation raising money for something that I absolutely love to hunt.
Ramsey Russell: Make your feet sweat. Boy, I tell you what? That’s a day. How did you get into turkey hunting John? And I’m just going to preface this by saying I’m not a turkey hunter, I can’t get mad at them I’ve tried, but I want to shoot one more turkey in my life. Life has granted me, I’ve shot all the turkeys except for one, I have not shot a Miriam’s and it ain’t going to happen this year because I’m going to be south of the equator when Miriam Turkey season opens but I want to pull the trigger one more time on one turkey. Because if you get that far down the list, why not? But I can’t get mad at them.
Johnny McKinion: We were in a deer camp in Port Gibson that was just eat up with turkeys and nobody turkey hunted. And I was in school at Brandon High school, I was a freshman and a buddy of mine, Joe Cooper and he mentioned he’s a big turkey hunter, it’s a mission to him. He said, man, we need to go down there. Well, we went down and I’m going to go ahead and tell you, and me and you turkey hunted before out in Texas but I’m going to go ahead and tell you until you sit next to a tree and that turkeys gobble and you watch that majestic bird come in there. I mean, I’m getting chills talking about that. I am, it’s just something about that. I mean, you can call the deer, you can call and they may come and of course you’re calling a duck and they’re coming, but you’re calling that turkey, I mean, that’s something that just doesn’t – it’s just hard to explain that the thrill and from then on, it was just a passion to me. And when I got this job at the National Wild Turkey Federation raising money for something that I absolutely love to hunt.
Ramsey Russell: And developing contacts and moving around and meeting folks and other turkey hunters.
Johnny McKinion: And I’ve been blessed, I’ve hunted turkeys all over this country. I got to kill the one in Florida, I have my Slam and I had the opportunity to do that but I want Peyton to be able to do it with me. I’m not going to go, I had a chance to go this year, I’m not going, he’s all tied up in football, when he gets a chance to go, we’re going to go down and kill it together because we both have our slam, killed every turkey but that one. I had killed the ones in South America every turkey, but that’s what I need. But it was just a passion that grew. And then I started meeting these call makers and I become friends with call makers and I got tied into turkey calling contest and the network of people that I absolutely love this sport and it’s growing like the way ducks took off and grew turkeys now getting to that point where it took off. I remember when I started, you could stop at any place around and say I want to hunt turkeys, it’s like, yeah, fine, go ahead. You better not even slowdown in Mississippi with camouflage on, somebody’s going to start yelling, hey, you can’t turkey hunt here keep going but it’s that way. And in Nebraska, they hate turkeys in Nebraska. I’ve yet for somebody in Nebraska to tell me no, you can’t turkey hunt. So it’s a passion man. And I mean, I guess you either love it or hate it because like I said, the first time I ever went out of state was with you in Texas.
Ramsey Russell: I was just thinking about that. I go and scout these hunts, I was working with him, man that’s a long time ago.
Johnny McKinion: Stony.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. And we went hunting with that boy and scouting and I think we may have killed every turkey he had on that little old property. And it didn’t work out as a hunt forget ducks.
Johnny McKinion: But if you remember, I didn’t kill mine till the last day. I’m the guy, no, matter where we go, if we have to pay to hunt, I’m either going to kill on that last day or I’m not going to kill it all, that’s me. People are like, why don’t you go there? I said, if I pay money to hunt somewhere, I said, I’m not blessed enough to pull the trigger. We went bear hunting in Canada, everybody killed a bear but Johnny. I didn’t see a bear, I didn’t see one, that’s me. So I mean, you invite me to go hunting out of state, hey, and we’re going to have a great time. But I’m the one that’s going to eat a tag sandwich. I’m telling you, you could take me to Argentina, I may not kill a dove. If I have to pay to go on that hunt, I may not kill a dove while we’re down there.
Ramsey Russell: I’ve seen you shoot, you probably won’t.
Johnny McKinion: That’s funny.
Ramsey Russell: I ain’t seen you shoot many, but now I’m going to tell this story by the time we went up in Northeast Arkansas and you and Parker tried to get my band, you all shelled out on that poor brown duck. I shot the green head and before I sent the dog, I said, my bird is banded. That is the god honest truth.
Johnny McKinion: That’s not true you all. And I can tell you that’s many bands on your lanyard, I can pick that one out because it has a number 4 shot peg in it and that’s what I was shooting.
Ramsey Russell: You were shooting triple BB.
Johnny McKinion: We weren’t shooting the same size shot and I know that mine fit right in that ping. I threatened you to come to your house and steal it off your lanyard when you’re gone.
Ramsey Russell: I mean, we’re all sitting there with that pair of mallards floating and before I sent Delta, I said that bird on the left is banded. I don’t know how I knew, but it was, that’s when I shot.
Johnny McKinion: Let’s talk how many bands you think you have?
Ramsey Russell: I don’t know. I really don’t. I got one lanyard, I’ve got birds mounted around the house with bands, but I’ve gotten to where to keep them on that same lanyard, I got bands on top of bands now. But I really don’t shoot a lot. I really got a poor – when I had that old yellow chicken dog, she had a nose for it. I’d come up more, little black dog ain’t picking up as many.
Johnny McKinion: You still got yellow Chicken Dog?
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, she’s asleep in the sun somewhere right now, if she’s at home.
Johnny McKinion: But I got her brother.
Ramsey Russell: I know.
Hunting Banded Ducks at King Chekka BoBo
Peyton is 19 years old, he’s killed 11 banded ducks right here in this property.
Johnny McKinion: Let’s talk about bands real quick and let’s talk about King Chekka BoBo. We’re really blessed here, there’s 3 or 4, just little water holes scattered out through the woods and Peyton coming up duck hunting, he’d go and we get mallards in here, I don’t know how, but we get them. Peyton is 19 years old, he’s killed 11 banded ducks right here in this property.
Ramsey Russell: Right here in Rankin County?
Johnny McKinion: Right here. Everyone one of them wood ducks, but 11. The greatest story ever right after I went to work for NWTF it was Youth Weekend and Peyton came out here had his mama drive him out, he wasn’t even old enough to drive. Come out here, him and one of his buddies, they went down there in the hole and he called me that morning, I was still asleep. He called me that morning, he said, daddy, I just killed another banded wood duck. I said, well, son, that’s great. He said, hang on a second and I heard him put his phone in his pocket and shot and I could hear him walking through the water. He said, you ain’t going to believe this, I said what? He said back to back, one drake, one hen both of them banded. I hadn’t killed that many bands.
Ramsey Russell: Where are those birds coming from? Are they local banded?
Johnny McKinion: We have never killed one local. Tennessee, Georgia, Iowa, I can’t remember though. We’ve never killed one that’s been banded anywhere – I guess, shouldn’t called Tennessee local, but we’ve never shot one out of Mississippi.
Ramsey Russell: I’ve never shot a wood duck that was banded in Mississippi either, they’ve all been from up north.
Johnny McKinion: And when I was with the conservation department, I banded them here. I went out on the trips and helped band birds. But I have never shot and I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anybody that shot a banded bird that was banded in Mississippi.
Ramsey Russell: John, we’ve known each other a long time and you were very instrumental in getducks.com, you really were. Because I wasn’t doing getducks when I met you and that thing kind of started and then one thing to another. And I can remember that logo, you helped me build that logo, you had an artist up there at that place.
Johnny McKinion: Craig Purvis. Craig Purvis, one who designed that. I remember me and you kicking around – I remember when you came to and he was going to call it getducks. And I was just like, well, I think Anita maybe came up with that.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Well, she came up with its Duck Season Somewhere. Because I was out talking to Wyatt one day or somebody on a soccer field and I was talking to somebody about duck hunting, the kids were kicking soccer balls and my buddy came up and said it ain’t duck season and my wife said, it’s Duck Season Somewhere and that stuck.
Johnny McKinion: That’s right. But the logo with the 3 hanging ducks, I don’t even remember what kind of ducks they are. What kind of duck?
Ramsey Russell: Back in the day, everybody had a flying duck or something like that. And I said, no, I want to convey killing ducks and I had a dead mount that’s still hanging up there at the camp, it’s two Brazilian ducks and a silver teal from Uruguay. And I went and took a picture and handed off to you all and you all made some art of it.
Johnny McKinion: Gave it to Craig and he came up with the outline of that and it’s been that ever since.
Ramsey Russell: It’s still is. Well, I tell you what, that’s a long time ago.
Johnny McKinion: I still got an original T-shirt.
Ramsey Russell: Do you really?
Johnny McKinion: Oh yeah, I think I got two of them.
Ramsey Russell: Speaking of that, we all kind of sort of met and hung out there for a time back before social media, there were chat rooms MS ducks. I mean, so many people in my adult life, my attorney, my doctor, my lawyer, my insurance guy, a lot of my friends, I mean on and on, I’m still got those relationships come off that little old chat rooms kind of like a virtual coffee shop, except we’d break off and have crawfish bowls and all kinds. I mean, you go to any NWTF or any event around here and you went and sat with folks you knew all that, you became good long life friends. And I’ve known some of them boys like yourself now for 20-30 years. Legendary, tell me the story of the big white Willow Break cup.
Johnny McKinion: So, I’m sure Ramsey –
Ramsey Russell: They actually made a t-shirt, the big white willow break.
Johnny McKinion: It was this year.
Ramsey Russell: Because I know it involves Old Charter.
Johnny McKinion: It involves Old Charter. So when willow break started, you all had all these cups, man, you have these little cups made in these great big white and I have one left and it never leaves, I’m scared to walk out of the house with it. But you all it’s just a white cup, it just says willow break, I got some ducks on it and we were over there and everybody was drinking, and everybody that first year we came over and drank all had a big white willow break up in their hands. And of course, that’s what we were drinking was Old Charter, whatever anybody drank. And I’m sure everybody left with one that night and then the next year I think everybody left one hell before I knew it, I had 15 of them in my house, you all didn’t have any left at the camp, they were gone, every one of them. And you all, it’s like a nukes cup, it’s just a plastic cup, but it’s just this big and that’s what it’s called the big white willow break cup. And now when everybody starts talking about those dinners we had, it was like, you’re going to have a big white willow break cup and I said, well, I know there’s one but literally, it’s at my house right now and tell you where it’s at, it won’t leave the house because I’m scared, I’m going to lose it.
Ramsey Russell: The story I’m thinking of is you were at a Ducks Unlimited banquet or something and one of the committee members, you brought in your little old cooler and your bottle of whiskey and your big white willow break cup, one of the committee members got onto you and it blew up, it spilled over onto the chat room the next day and I ain’t never forgot it. You and your damn big white willow break cup. It was like you see these toddlers going around with that little sippy cup, but all over town, all over the county, we saw Johnny McKinion, he had a big white willow break cup with Old Charter and Coke in it.
Johnny McKinion: It was like every picture you had of me, I had that willow break cup in my hand, every picture.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, that’s a long time. Johnny, tell me a few more stories about your daddy. What kind of man was your daddy?
Johnny McKinion: Man, can we cuss on here? Well, I mean, I’m not just going to go deep but anybody who knows me, you all know I’m an asshole.
Ramsey Russell: We called you G.D Johnny forever.
Johnny McKinion: Yeah, that’s a good word. I like the F word even better. But anyway I’m an asshole and that’s my personality. I don’t mean it to be, it’s just how I come off and it’s kind of like, when my dad passed away and –
Ramsey Russell: How old were you?
Johnny McKinion: Let’s say Peyton was 2, so he’s 19 now. Peyton was two when daddy died, he knew who daddy was, but he didn’t get the relationship with my dad that Morgan had.
Ramsey Russell: Because you were a grown man.
Johnny McKinion: I was grown man and I hated that.
Ramsey Russell: And you all were good friends. He wasn’t just like a father figure, you all were buddies.
Johnny McKinion: We were buddies, we were best friends. Daddy had retired, he wasn’t working anymore, so we got to spend a whole lot of time together. And growing up with daddy hunting was different with Peyton growing up. I remember daddy coming home and going, I’m going duck hunting, I’m going deer hunting, he would go by himself and back then that’s the way it was, we went, but we didn’t go every time. When Peyton got to that, I remember Peyton sitting in a deer stand with me when he was 2, if I went to deer camp, Peyton was with me, we were going and he went with me. But brother, we had a relationship, me and my brother, my dad, my sister, the relationships were just phenomenal.
Ramsey Russell: You all are still tight. I mean, for 70s you all are very tight.
Johnny McKinion: Yeah and we all lived here in the same county. That’s great. I mean, if you see the tattoo on my arm, you can see it, that’s a family tattoo and there’s a green leaf on that tree for everybody in my family and I’ll add to it when my nephews have babies or my niece have a baby or kids. But what I was getting too was, I wrote daddy’s obituary when he died and I put in there, I said, if you knew Johnny McKinion in which he was senior, I’m a junior. If you knew Johnny McKinion, you either loved him or hated him. And I think I got more of my daddy in me then I think my brother and my sister got. I think people look at me and they say you act just like your daddy and I say daddy was a king asshole. We we ain’t going to asshole it, it’s just our personality.
Ramsey Russell: It is are who you are.
Johnny McKinion: You just are who you are. I remember my friends telling me –
Ramsey Russell: John, I ain’t never wondered where you stood on nothing.
Johnny McKinion: No, not at all.
Ramsey Russell: To me, that’s a great trail.
Johnny McKinion: But I remember my friends coming over and it’s like telling me, man, your daddy scares me to death, that’s just the way he was. But once you got to know him, I mean, it wasn’t a better person in this world at all. And I hate everything happens for a reason but I absolutely hate that my kids and my nieces and my nephews didn’t get the opportunity to spend the time with my dad the way I did. Because he had gotten to a point in his life where he was financially sound, he was retired, he would have had more fun with them grandkids than I’ve ever had with my kids or that I’ve probably ever had with my grandkids and I hate and this camp.
Pearls of Wisdom
And my daddy told me that he said, son money is not everything, he said, but you got to have it.
Ramsey Russell: What are some of the conversations, some of the pearls of wisdom or something your daddy told you over the years as you’re growing up that you carry with you.
Johnny McKinion: The one thing, everything in this world – I heard somebody say yesterday you can make it through life without love, but you can’t make it through life without money and money ain’t everything. And my daddy told me that he said, son money is not everything, he said, but you got to have it. And the one thing he instilled in me that I told Peyton the other day, I said one day you’re going to get married, son. And I said, you and your wife are going to go through a lot of trials and tribulations in this life, I said, one thing that you never fight about is money. And I said, there’s going to be times in your life when you don’t think you have enough. I said, the Lord’s going to provide for you but that’s one thing that you’ve never fight about ever. I’m 52 years old and I think I’m just now in the point in my life doing are just now at the point in our life where it’s not seeming like we’re trying to make ends meet every month. Where we’re going to get this, take care of this, where we’re going to get – and I think we’ve finally gotten to that point in our life and hell, I’m 52 years old and there’s some 20 year olds out there, that’s like that. But I tried to give my kids the life that they needed. My kids couldn’t come to me and say I wanted this and I just went out and spent money, that’s not me. But I made sure that they needed what they had to be comfortable in life and I’m still going to do that. I mean, my mama still takes care of us. I mean, she gives more than she needs to give to all of us and I think that’s the beauty of having family. It’s absolutely beautiful. But going back to daddy, King Chekka BoBo, let’s talk about that for a moment.
Ramsey Russell: I was going to ask you where the name came from. I want to hear this.
Johnny McKinion: So, we started this camp or I would get an idea together for this camp and I called my brother and I said we need to have a name and him and I come together, so this is where King Chekka BoBo came from. It’s a smart ass comment. I don’t know where my daddy came up with it, I’ve Googled it, I have never heard anybody else say it ever and there’s nothing on Google. If you Google it, it’s going to come up about the camp or stuff that I’ve said. But anyway, my mom would come home and she’d be like, hey I went over to Ramsey and Anita’s house today and Anita got a new car and they’re putting new furniture in and daddy was just all content in what mama was saying, he’d be shaking his head and be like, well, tell me more, what about this and she would get through and he’d look at mama, he’d go, is that it? And she’d be like, yeah, daddy go would go ain’t they just a damn King Chekka BoBo. And brother, it just hung. And I think the first thing I ever did –
Ramsey Russell: He said about everything.
Johnny McKinion: Everything. I bought me a whiskey. And mama says she can’t remember him saying it, but Scott remembers it, my brother remembers it. So the first thing I ever did was I bought a whiskey flask and I had King Chekka BoBo engraved on that whiskey flask. Then I ordered me a Turbos tumbler and had King Chekka BoBo put on it. Well, then we named the camp, it’s on the gate, we painted it on the building. Well, my brother calls me one day and he goes, hey, how do you spell King Chekka BoBo? And I said, well, this is how you spell it KING CHEKKA and it’s BoBo capital B little O, capital B little O, I said, why? He said, I’m down here on the coast, I’m fixing to get a tattoo of it. And I was like, are you kidding? And he goes, no. So he got one and I was like, wow, showed it to me, I absolutely loved it before you know it, I went and got me one. I mean, you see, I’ve got a lot of tattoo. That’s the first tattoo I got it, I got it when I was 40 years old King Chekka BoBo. So I got it. Well, all of a sudden Peyton goes and gets it. So Me, Scott and Peyton all have it tattooed. And I came up with an idea one time at camp, I told everybody, I said, hey, a new regulation at camp, if you’re here in the camp, everybody’s got to have King Chekka BoBo tattoo, they looked at me like I was crazy. Because I think Me, Scott and Peyton is the only 3 of us having tattoos is like, yeah, we’re not doing that. I look for one day, Morgan’s got a tattoo, I look for her to get it one day. I think my grandkids will get, I don’t know, it’s just some people look at tattoo –
Ramsey Russell: Well, you could get a cap instead of a tattoo, Johnny.
Johnny McKinion: That’s exactly right. King Chekka BoBo tattoo would probably be about as far fetch as getting a getducks.com visor. You said we’ve known each other 20 years, I’ve got one visor in 20 years. The only way I got t-shirts –
Ramsey Russell: Well, do you still got the visor?
Johnny McKinion: Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: Then what the hell do you need another one for? Wash it.
Johnny McKinion: I have it, it’s faded out, I need a new one.
Ramsey Russell: Man, that’s OG man, old gangster. You don’t need the new stuff, man.
Johnny McKinion: The only way I used to get t-shirts and I’m not fixing to get Anita in trouble. I’d call Anita and I say, hey, I need a new t-shirt, will you put me one in the mailbox? She’ll be sure. And she’s taking the mailbox, go by and get it because you sure wasn’t going to give anybody one. I remember I called you a couple of years ago, I said, hey man, I need a new shirt and he was like, oh, well, you can go to this website and buy it and deliver it to your house. I was like, what? I’m not going to buy a t-shirt.
Ramsey Russell: How many t-shirts you got? A bunch of them?
Johnny McKinion: If you looked in my closet right now, there’s probably 8 dress shirts and probably 300 t-shirts. I have every t-shirt I have ever bought whether it still fits me or not, my wife will tell you, they’re in plastic bags in the attic, I won’t throw them away. I mean, they all have memories and I’m just a t-shirt freak, I love them. I’ll probably buy one today. I just absolutely love t-shirts.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah or you can go to getducks.com store buy one and want to be delivered to your house.
Johnny McKinion: I’m not buying from somebody that could give me one for free. If you all don’t know Ramsey Russell, he’s probably the cheapest person ever walked the face of the earth.
Ramsey Russell: No, just broke.
Serious Turkey Hunters
Johnny McKinion: Hey, speaking of going back to turkey hunting and I know we’re bouncing around a lot but Forrest really gotten into it.
Ramsey Russell: Boy, I don’t know where he got it from. Well, he come over the house and eat dinner the other night, when did turkey season open?
Johnny McKinion: Tuesday. He killed one on Tuesday.
Ramsey Russell: Hell he did. But he came over the house, him and his girlfriend come over the house to eat, I smoke some ribs and he was going through the house and getting stuff together and just wringing his hands and you could tell he was anxious. I’m like, what? He says, it’s going to rain in the morning? I said, well, don’t go, he goes, I’m going to go at 10 when it quits raining. And boy, 11 o’clock, he had one flopping. He said the only bad thing was, he said it was so close. He said, I thought I could hear it drumming but I couldn’t tell with all the rain hitting my hat, the bill of my cap. But he has some kind of eat up with it.
Johnny McKinion: And he’s become a pretty good turkey hunter too.
Ramsey Russell: No, he’s a good turkey hunter. He can hear them, he knows how to play the game and the truth matter is, most of the turkeys, he’s killing is on public land. He ain’t going out some private camp and shooting over corn, this boys hunting and maybe just seeing me travel around and do stuff like I have it’s like I can remember of course they all went to school right down here just a little school in Tallahatchie the day senior day hit, him and two of his little old buddies loaded up drive 8, 9, 10 hours out somewhere west and turkey hunted and come screeching in on gas fumes right in time to go walk the stage and get their diploma and he never looked back. He’s a turkey hunter of epic proportion, I don’t know where he got. Now, me personally, I want to shoot a Miriam and then I’m done. Unless I tell you a funny story. Boy, I tell you what NWTF folks, serious turkey hunters don’t hate my guts I’m saying this, but it’s the God’s honest truth. I was down in New Zealand one time and it was a bunch of dirt kind of piled up and it looked kind of sort of like, out in the middle of patch, I’m like, what is that Adrian? Is that a – they’re fixing to build a shop, it looked like, maybe they’re forming a pad to pour some concrete and he goes, no, they killed 450 turkeys and buried them. I said, they what? He said, oh my gosh. He said, they’re feral over here and when you got so many turkeys that they’re literally eating your clover paddock out of house and home, they just went out there and shot him and buried him. So he and I, we got to talking and carrying on, I said, well, that’s the turkey hunt I want to do. He said, well, we can call them up all 450 at one time. I said, no, I want you and somebody else to go banging sticks like Zulu warriors and push them where I’m sitting on this treeline and they’re flying over and I can pass shoot high volume turkey. Now you show me that and I’m all in on turkey hunting. I want to shoot a flying bird coming over like we do driven guinea fowl in Africa. I’m sitting there thinking, driven wild turkeys, I’m in. I will be a turkey hunter at that point in my life, but not until.
Johnny McKinion: I heard New Zealand was the place to go. I’ve talked to some people that’s been down there and they said, they roost on fence post.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, there’s no predators. You’ll see ducks and turkeys and stuff. Turkeys are sometimes even roost like quail because they’re just out there, nothing to eat except a hunter. But anyway Johnny, King Chekka BoBo. I appreciate having you good to see you again.
Johnny McKinion: Man, I am so glad you called me and came out here. We tried to get together during deer season, we’re going to make it happen next year, but I am so glad you came out here today.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Folks, you all have been listening to one of my oldest buddies, Mr. Johnny Mc daddy GD McKinion. We’re here at this camp King Chekka BoBo in Rankin County, Mississippi. Thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, we’ll see you next time. Johnny, we’re fixing to go get Old Charter.
Johnny McKinion: I’m in, if you’re in.
Ramsey Russell: I’m in.