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Call of the wild: Burnham brothers monument unveiled at Lakeside Park

Burnham Bros. monument in Marble Falls Texas

A monument honoring brothers Murry and Winston Burnham was unveiled during a ceremony on Jan. 30 at Lakeside Park in Marble Falls. It tells the story of their popular hunting calls. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

A monument honoring brothers Murry and Winston Burnham and their popular predator calls was unveiled on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at Lakeside Park in Marble Falls.

The two siblings owned and managed Burnham Brothers Sporting Goods in Marble Falls, which was best remembered for the innovative hunting calls on its shelves and the live rattlesnakes showcased in its front window.

About 75 people attended the afternoon ceremony at the park to hear public addresses from Burnham family members, monument organizers, and city dignitaries.

“We are so glad to have this opportunity to honor the Burnham brothers,” said Robert Linder, an avid hunter and monument organizer.

He started raising money for the granite tribute in the summer of 2023 and received an outpouring of support from hunters with fond memories of the Burnhams and their shop.

“I got a check in the mail from a guy who said, ‘I’m retired and I don’t have much money, but the Burnham brothers were very important in my life. Here’s a $15 check,’” Linder said of one of the donors. “As far as I was concerned, it could have been a $1,000 (check), because I felt it was from that man’s heart. It was unbelievable.”

Linder thanked former mayor and current Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. Director John Packer for his support. Packer was the “granite connection” and voted with the EDC board to award the project a $7,500 grant in August 2023.

“When I brought this up (to the EDC), John looked at me and said, ‘Let me help you,’” Linder said. “Now, that’s what I call a Marble Falls trait. Let me tell you what, John Packer looked after me. He made sure we got this granite.”

Hunter Burnham, the son of Murry Burnham, explained to ceremony attendees how grandfather Morton started the family down its path to national fame by learning to imitate the sound of a wounded rabbit to attract predators.

“Word got around to more and more people about Morton Burnham and his calling ability,” Hunter said. “Around 1950, there was an article written about him in True Magazine. True Magazine was a national publication. Hundreds of people wrote the Burnhams after that article asking for a device that would make the sound of a rabbit in distress.”

Morton’s sons, Winston and Murry, began experimenting with the idea.

“One of their first tries was two sticks with prickly pear cactus skin between them,” Hunter Burnham said. “The cactus skin didn’t last very long, but it made the right sound. These experiments led to (a call with) two pieces of plastic with a rubber band in between, and the S-2 Close Range Call was born.”

The brothers’ predator calls created a new sector in the hunting market, Hunter said.

“Now, there’s dozens of game call companies, there’s calling contests, and a whole industry exists around predator calling. And it all started with Morton, Winston, and Murry Burnham,” he said.

Former mayor and current Marble Falls City Councilor Griff Morris spoke about the brothers’ dedication to the outdoors.

“The Burnham brothers were not just hunters who specialized in bird and predator calls, they were conservationists,” he said. “They cared deeply about wildlife in the countryside. They took as much pride in people sending them photographs of animals that they had called in and let go as they did when people called in animals and mounted them as trophies. I was always impressed by the amount of pride Murry and Winston had for this area and for the wildlife that they felt they were charged with protecting.”

Former Mayor Richard Westerman, a longtime friend of the Burnham family, also spoke.

“I think it’s very important for us as a community to always honor our past as we grow and change,” he said.

The ceremony closed with an official monument dedication by Mayor Dave Rhodes.

“Think about the days when these folks were doing what they were doing,” he said. “If they were in today’s day and age, it wouldn’t be the Duck Commander dudes (from the A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty“), it would be these guys.”

The granite rock for the Burnham brothers’ monument came from Coldspring Granite, while the bronze relief was created by local sculptor Dan Pogue. 

The monument joined memorials for musician Floyd Tillman and composer Oscar Fox, both locals, as part of Lakeside Park’s “Music Row.” The Burnham brothers’ tribute qualifies for its connection to “the sounds of nature.”

“As this corner develops, I expect that we’ll have more things in the future because of the great past of Marble Falls,” Linder said.