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Martin’s hunting days started at age 5 or 6, when his dad took him hunting for squirrels and chasing rabbits with beagles. “Dad expected 50 squirrels from a box of shells,” Martin says chuckling as he reminisces about those days, “And I tried not to disappoint.” Perhaps that is the reason Martin became an expert marksman with a rifle, compound bow, pistol, and muzzleloader.
Upon graduating from high school, Martin served a 4-year tour in the U.S. Navy—Airborne division from 1966-1970. During his time in the Navy, he took every opportunity to hunt in different parts of the country when he had military leave. After Martin finished his naval service, he went to work on a 70,000 acre cattle ranch in Arizona. The ranch was a paradise for him, loaded with mule deer, javalina, coyotes, quail, and rabbits. It was there that Martin got his first taste of guiding mule deer and elk in the high country. After five years of ranching, he attended college at Central Arizona College in Coolidge, AZ. But a short time later, Martin decided it was time to move back to Missouri, where he started his profession as a brick layer. He also began teaching seminars on calling and hunting wild turkeys which is his passion. He started the first turkey hunting school in Missouri. After five years, Martin became restless and went to Alaska for a short time, hunting moose, brown bear, and Dall sheep in the fall on the Alaskan countryside. In 1984, Martin moved back to Springfield, Missouri for good. He continued his brick layer job, while starting the Ozark Mountain Guide business with his brother, Bob Martin. As the business grew, Martin and his brother hired several other guides for largemouth, walleye, and crappie to help them on nine lakes around the Springfield area. In 1987, Johnny Morris, a long-time hunting and fishing friend, was planning to expand the hunting side of the Bass Pro Shops' product line, and knew just the right man to help.
Morris offered Martin the opportunity of a lifetime, a career that combined all of his outdoor passions and expertise. Martin used his expertise to assist in the research and development of product at Bass Pro Shops by evaluating and testing new fishing and hunting gear. Martin also began appearing on TV shows on the TNN Network during this time. At Bass Pro Shops, Jerry found his second paradise.
In 1993, Morris and Martin had an idea. Knowing the value of TV and its success for many of the Bass Pro Shops fishing pros, they decided to start a pro hunting team which was the catalyst for the hunting portion of early Bass Pro Shops television. “We hand-picked people who would work well together as a Team and present hunting in a good light," says Martin. Morris and Martin scoured the nation, selecting the high profile hunters to represent Bass Pro Shops and help increase Bass Pro Shops’ hunting presence within the industry. Along with Martin, the pro hunting team includes Bob Foulkrod, Walter Parrot, Jim Ryan, Allen Treadwell, and Brenda Valentine. With the years of experience and hunting knowledge, this Team has helped to produce some of the best equipment available for Bass Pro Shops’ customers.
While assisting with product research and development, TV shows, and the pro hunting team, Jerry was exposed to conservation organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). His experience with these groups helped develop his desire to pass on to the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts the importance of conservation, which also helped formulate the vision to start a team of young hunters to inspire our youth to become interested in the outdoors. The Next Generation Team at Bass pro Shops was founded using a group of male and female young hunters and anglers from various states. Since its formation, the Next Generation Team has been used exclusively in a Next Generation TV show and captivated an audience of young people all over America.
Martin’s humble nature and genuine disposition does not boast of his numerous accomplishments throughout the years. In his hunting career, he has had dozens of trophy whitetail deer kills, several scoring over 200. Martin has killed dozens of Turkey Grand Slams with muzzleloader, bow and centerfire, and a few Turkey Royal Slams too. Martin has hunted for all types of animals across the nation and in countries around the world. Whether he’s hunting deer in Kansas or an elephant in Africa, Martin understands the importance ethics play. He believes in ethical shooting and holds himself to high standards when it comes to his marksmanship. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with first time hunters, youth, and celebrities from country singers to NASCAR drivers. It does not take long to see the impact Martin has made in the outdoor industry and the wide range of people he has influenced. In August 2008, he was recognized for his accomplishments. Martin was inducted into the Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN. This impressive honor is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated a passion for the outdoors in both fishing and hunting and whose actions and high ethical standards serve as the guidelines for the entire outdoor community. Martin joins the short list of people to receive such a prestigious honor among the hunting community.