Patternmaster – Tell us, Walt, how did you get started in the outdoor video business?
Walt – How did I get started? When I was 14, my grandma had an old VHS camcorder, which I took from her and started filming everything I did. Sadly, one day, I left it on the tailgate of my truck and lost it. I thought my grandmother was going to be mad at me but luckily she wasn't. Instead, she ended up buying me a digital camera with editing software. I started using that camera, playing around with editing and I filmed just about everything I did.
When I started college, I majored in wildlife management. I wanted to be a game warden. Eventually I decided I really didn't like that, so I switched to film. It was a dream of mine that I didn't think was in reach but I decided to go for it anyway.
Two months after I switched to film, I went to an outdoor show with my brother-in-law. I spoke with everyone there about a possible internship but most of them just blew me off. We were getting ready to leave when we saw the Zink Calls booth. I went over, started talking to them, telling them about all the filming I had done, my hunting songs I had written; I played guitar all my life. I basically called the shop every day for the next two months until they gave me an internship.
Patternmaster – Talk about perseverance! Is the rest, as they say, history?
Walt – Yeah, pretty much (laughing).
Patternmaster - What was your life like growing up?
Walt – I grew up in a very small town called Booneville, KY. The name suits it well because it is out in the boonies! Its pretty much an hour to an hour and a half to the nearest fast food place. We had a tobacco farm and grew it all of our lives. We had big gardens, almost everything we ate came out of the garden or we hunted it. My family were avid deer hunters. My mom and dad both were. I started hunting and fishing with my dad from the age of three so you could say it has been somewhat ingrained in me from a young age. Dad started planting deer and turkey food plots the year I was born which we have maintained over the years. Now I've got my dad installing trail cameras. It’s been interesting to see its evolution over the years.
Patternmaster – It’s funny isn't it? You learned from your dad and now he is learning from you!
Walt – Yeah! He got me into it and now I'm keeping him on the cutting edge of it!
Patternmaster – Absolutely! So tell us, what is your favorite part of shooting and editing video?
Walt – I always enjoy the final product after all is said and done. The majority of people who see it don't see all the hard work that goes into it. They don't realize all of the different elements involved that make it what it is. I enjoy seeing the hard work of everyone involved take shape. All of the time spent in the field, the many different camera angles, you get everything organized and there it is. The final product is definitely the best reward. Along with the positive feedback from the fans, of course!
Patternmaster – Of course! Ok, lets say you have to choose between waterfowl projects and Turkey projects. Which would it be?
Walt - Turkey hunting is definitely my living, breathing passion. I love hunting turkeys. However, I enjoy filming waterfowl hunts more. I think it may be the fact that I can stay more uninvolved in the actual hunt when it comes to waterfowl. This allows me to capture it better on film. When it comes to turkeys, I'd walk barefoot through half mile of fire, belly crawl through 12 yellow jacket nests and sky dive without a parachute just to get a chance to shoot at one.
Patternmaster – Wow! I don't think you could be any more passionate about it than that! And what about your music?
Walt – I started playing the guitar when I was seven. I started taking lessons three times a week on a $30 guitar with plastic strings. Eventually, after three years of playing, my parents bought me a Martin Sigma guitar, which was much nicer. From then it just snowballed. I started writing music when I was 16. That was when I wrote Hillbilly Man, which is the title track of the first album I made a few years ago. I’ve also written the theme songs for Band Hunters and Turkey Time.
Check out this video of Walt and his music!
Patternmaster – Oh wow! And what type of music is it and what are some of your influences?
Walt – Its more country music. It's traditional country with new country, like Jason Aldean. A bit of blues too. As far as influences, Bob Wilson who was my music teacher, my parents, for buying me my first real guitar and always supporting me, and Johnny Cash. We always listened to Johnny Cash.
Patternmaster - Tell us about Avian X TV. What can we look forward to?
Walt – It’s our newest venture in video. Zink Calls has been doing video since 2001 and they really revolutionized waterfowl filming. It’s been 10 years since they started video and a lot of people have caught up to what they were doing. Zink Calls always aims to stay on the cutting edge and produce the best waterfowl and turkey television.
Walt in his editing studio
Avian X, which makes turkey and waterfowl decoys, is kind of like the sister brand to Zink Calls. The way we are filming now is different to anything that has ever been done before. We have one of the best film crews ever assembled in the waterfowl video world. We are like a family, best friends and that all transfers over into what we do.
Patternmaster – So, what’s the future look like for Walt Gabbard?
Walt – It’s looking bright! We keep expanding the video department, so we're hoping to do more shows. I still have my music. I'm actually planning to get back into the studio soon to record another album. I have about 25 new songs to cut into an album here in the next year or so. So, yeah, it's looking good!