Earlier this past week the outdoor industry lost one of the most interesting, exciting and innovative businessmen it has seen in recent memory.
Bob Walker passed away on Tuesday at the age of 62. He started Walkers Game Ear in 1989 and through his hard work, outgoing personality and foresight he grew his little business into a not only a leader, but started an entirely new industry within an industry.
Walker had been diagnosed with leukemia a couple years ago. With the same attitude that made Walker Game Ear a world-wide presence, he was able to keep his disease at bay with the help of a bone marrow transplant. Late last year, Walker contracted pneumonia and the flu and his immune system just couldn't fight any longer.
Walker was known not only as a great family man, but also as one of the best turkey hunters the Keystone State ever turned out. His proficiency in the spring turkey woods wasn't overshadowed by his love of chasing whitetails.
I had first met Walker at a sports show we were working and immediately hit it off. As an avid hunter and outdoor communicator, I am always on the lookout for the next best thing. At the time, Walker had just introduced one of the original Game Ears.
We talked at length about the theory behind his creation and why. Looking back on it today, hearing enhancement makes all the sense in the world, but then it was just a theory. Through many conversations and meetings, Walker talked me into trying the Game Ear. It opened up an entirely new world for me. At the time I didn't realize how bad my hearing actually had gotten. But the first time I heard a turkey gobble at 300 yards I was sold. I not only heard the bird sound off, but knew what direction it was.
Trying to convince sportsmen, who are often times a stubborn lot, to try something so new and in so doing admit that weren't the men they once where in regards to their hearing was a tough sale.
But Walker's years of experience as a licensed hearing specialist in Pennsylvania, years of hunting experience and understanding how the human ear works made the project a life-long passion.
Walker's vision made Walker's Game Ear the industry's first compact hearing enhancement and protection device that not only amplified sounds, but also protected the user's hearing.
Walker and I had spent hours discussing the outdoor business and also chased some birds around in Chautauqua County. Over the years, Walker's Game Ear grew and grew. Walker, ever the entrepreneur and always thinking outside the box, sold Walker's Game Ear in 2006 to GMS, the owners of the Stealth Camera.
After the sale of Walker's Game Ear, Walker realized he was able to spend more time hunting in front of the camera and started a TV show. Through the love of archery hunting, Walker started spending more time in the woods with a crossbow. It wasn't long before Walker realized that he could design, build and sell a really cool crossbow and Slayer Crossbows were born.
Walker was always running with the throttle open and the outdoor industry will never be the same because of him.
Walker was a man that truly lived the dream everyday.
Bob, thank you for all you have done for sportsmen not only today but also in the future. I am proud to have known you and have been able to share the spring turkey woods with you. Please keep a couple longbeards for me when we get to hunt together.
God bless you ''old ridge runner.''