Dusty McGehee: Starkey Showdown … It’s what we do

A few years ago, my best friend, Rob, gave me some of the worst news any parent could receive.  His son, Breck, had been diagnosed with cancer.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was turkey hunting in Mississippi by myself and I hit the ground as soon as I was able to comprehend that information.  At the same time this news came out, his wife, Valerie, was pregnant with their daughter.  Prior to this, they had preliminary plans to remodel their home to make it more kid friendly.

So, while they were at St. Jude, a large group friends banded together and secretly decided to make these updates ourselves and with the help of some generous local contractors.  Long story short, we finished the house before they returned from St. Jude with Breck and newborn, Vale.  Rob thanked each and every one of us; we were all hesitant to just say “you’re welcome” because we knew he would do the same for us.  Finally, I just said “It’s what WE do.”

I didn’t realize it was such a profound statement, but it was echoed by many others.  If you think about it “It’s what we do” embodies what our community is all about.  We have seen it firsthand with the recent storms.  When there is a hardship in a family, it’s the same thing.  Good people helping other good people.  It’s definitely a Lincoln Parish thing. A Louisiana thing. A southern thing. But more so it is something everyone is born with in their heart.

This leads me to another unfortunate series of events playing out as we speak.

Josh Starkey and I have competed against each other in crappie tournaments for probably a decade.  We have formed a great friendship over the years, and definitely respect each other as anglers.  When we heard the American Crappie Trail was coming to D’arbonne, we decided to join forces and become teammates to ensure we would make the national championship on our favorite lake.

While we qualified for the National Championship just as we planned, I would be forced to fish alone.  Josh had gotten sick at a tournament on Grenada Lake and was ordered by the doctors to stay off of the boat.  He knew he had a surgery impending and a 3-month rehab, so fishing would be out of the cards for the foreseeable future.

Josh had that surgery, but his recovery didn’t go as planned.  That led to another surgery, and inevitably, there will be another surgery in the future.  I know this writing probably makes him a little uncomfortable, as he is the most humble person and would never ask for help.  I was laying in bed a week or two ago and wondered how we could help with the expenses; a light bulb went off….. a fishing tournament!  How fitting would that be?

Days later, local crappie tournament organizer, Bradley Isaac, made a social media post gauging attention for a tournament in July.  It was like someone slapped me in the face. This was it!  I have never organized a tournament, so I knew I was inept. I quickly messaged Bradley about doing a benefit for Josh.  He responded immediately said, “YES! This tournament will be for him, but we need to get it perfect.”  I reached out to his buddies, Ronnie Turner and Justin Smart, and we all hit the ground running.  Why?  It’s what we do.

We tested the waters with a few people that knew him, and they were ALL IN.  We reached out to a few local sponsors to cover the payout we needed to bring in anglers in the area, and WOW!  I wasn’t prepared for the response.  Within hours we had the payouts paid for, and we decided to create a Facebook page and make it live to the public.  Once again, WOW!!!  The support has been unlike anything I could have ever imagined.  Everyone that knows Josh and entire crappie community were all throwing in to help with this cause.  It’s what we do.

We have had people from all over the country wanting to support to Josh and this event.  Every guide in this area and other areas have donated free trips.  Local businesses have jumped on board in a big way to make sure this is a success.  Crappie gear companies from coast to coast are all sending in gear and/or money.  It has been close to being overwhelming, but “It’s what we do.”

The Josh Starkey 5 Fish Showdown is set for August 27, 2022.  We will fish from 6 a.m. to noon. The best five fish win.

Payouts will be:

1st $1,000

2nd $500

3rd $250

Big Fish $200

Smallest 5 fish bag $250

For more information, check out “Josh Starkey 5 Fish Showdown Benefit Tournament” on Facebook.  For those that would like to donate or are interested in the raffle items, email me on the link in my bio below.  Let’s all rally around an awesome guy for a great cause.  Everything raised above the tournament payouts goes directly to Josh for his medical expenses.  It’s what WE do.

Ironically, the first phone call I made was to Breck’s dad aka my best buddy Rob, who owns Beau Vines.  I gave him a short synopsis of Josh’s story/challenges/tournament.  I told him he didn’t have to donate, as he didn’t know him, but he happily did and replied with “It’s what we do.”


Dusty McGehee is a native of Downsville and a 2006 graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a bachelors in wildlife conservation. He is currently employed by WestRock and serves as an environmental engineer at the Hodge Mill. Dusty is an avid hunter and crappie fisherman, fishing crappie tournaments with his son when he is not in the woods. He and his wife Rachel have three young outdoorsmen/women: Anders, Ridge, and Mae. If you have a story idea or question about the great outdoors, you can reach Dusty at dusty.mcgehee@westrock.com.