On the X: Sitdown with World Champ and owner of Black Timber Customs Trevor Shannahan.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with Trevor during contest season and get some of his story about beginnings and where he wants to go. He was a class act throughout the process and a pleasure to work with.
BTB: When did you first start hunting and who was it that got you started?
TS: I started hunting at the age of 4 with my father. He would take me out, land some birds and let me shoot them occasionally. Any other time, I was tagging along learning the ropes, like how and why to set decoys, why birds acted certain ways, how to brush blinds, etc. It wasn't until I was about 7 or 8 that he took me to shoot with others in the blind.
BTB: When did you start competition calling?
TS: I started competition calling in August of 2006. I was just a hunter at that point and had really never even learned to blow a call at all. A buddy of mine, Jake Steppe, asked me if I wanted to go to one since he knew I was a waterfowl hunter. I told him yes and borrowed some of my dads calls and started to practice with him a few days before the contest. At first, I picked up a goose call... bad decision. It sounded somewhere between a kazoo and a screaming banshee. Next we tried the duck call. Not too terrible. After an hour or so of learning different sequences, he played John Stephens routine for me and told me to try to get as close to that as I could. I tried. It wasn't close at all, but that Saturday came and I was determined to give it my all when I got on stage. My first contest... The 2006 DE Bay Jr. Novice Duck Calling Contest. I went back into the bullpen with 10 or so other kids and figured ok well at least I'll get to listen to a few routines before I go. Wrong. My first round of my first contest, I drew the dreaded bullet. I went up there and ran my best rendition of what I remembered a routine consisted of. Lo and behold, I made the second round. Ultimately I ended up placing 5th and my competitive fire set in. I was bound and determined to get good at this bird whistle thing.
BTB: What was your first contest win and how did it feel?
TS: My first contest win was in August of 2008 when I ended up winning the Novice Duck in Kansas City. It was a pretty good contest with 40+ callers, many of whom ended up going on to finish in the top 10 of Worlds. It wasn't just getting the first win off my back, but finishing 2nd and 5th in two of the Regionals there that really made the weekend special. It was my first real successful weekend of calling.
BTB: How and when did you get into call making and did you have any mentors along the way?
TS: I got into call making in 2009. I mainly just wanted a hobby and to work on trying to make a better call for my style of calling. Eventually it became a passion of mine to "build a better mousetrap". Most of my callmaking knowledge was garnered through self teaching, although I have a few friends that have given some finishing advice along the way. There was a lot of trial and error, and a lot of firewood made, but I feel like I've assembled a pretty complete line of mallard and Canada calls over the years. My next goal is to venture into other species like specks and turkeys.
BTB: According the Callingducks.com you have the most contest wins since 2003 by a rather large margin. What does that mean to you to be at the top of a list with other legendary callers?
TS: It really just means that I've put the time and dedication into honing my craft and traveling to put it to use. I also started with the idea that I didn't want to be focused on one style of calling. I worked equally as hard on my mainstreet duck as I did on my meat/Live style and goose calling. I put the time in to create team routine outlines that flowed well and showed teamwork. All of that helped to increase my chances of winning because I was in the top of 3-4 contests every trip vs just 1. It also helped me to learn extreme air control because of switching up so much, which has helped my calling immensely.
BTB: What are your plans for Black Timber Custom Calls and how big do you see it getting? Is it something your pushing to make a full time gig or keep it as a extra source of revenue, place for innovation and creativity instead?
TS: With Black Timber I've never really imagined it getting much bigger than it is. I like to have my hands on every call to ensure a quality product is leaving the shop every time. I also enjoy having the time to still hand turn customs as well. It's a hobby of mine that I really don't want to part with, which I would have to do if I tried to make Black Timber a larger production company. So all in all I'm content with how we are doing now in that we make some extra money and have the freedom to continuously try to innovate and better our product line.
BTB: Personally I have watched your calling videos and Call making videos. I've seen you offer advice to callers and call makers alike. What does it mean to you to be able to help promote and advance the sport?
TS: I've always felt an urge to give back and help those who want or need it. Whether it's creating tutorial videos, giving calling advice, critiquing routines, helping to run/organize contests, doing benefit auctions, etc I feel like this sport has done so much for me that I should always try to give back to it. I try my best to answer all messages I get about calling, but unfortunately lately sometimes they fall through the cracks. I work a full time job as well as run two of my own businesses at night, so sometimes I miss a message. If this ever happens I urge people to keep messaging me, I promise you that you aren't bugging me one bit.