COLUMBUS, Ga. — I wanted to pay tribute to a friend who passed away recently, Woody Royster. Woody lived next door to our former General Manager Ridley Bell, who also hosted the popular outdoor program here on WRBL called “Sportsman Lodge.”
“Welcome to Sportsman’s Lodge and your host Ridley Bell…”
And with those words of introduction Ridley launched into another edition of his popular TV program. Woody Royster has many fond memories of Sportman’s Lodge, maybe that’s because he lived next door to the show’s host for a dozen years.
“Our relationship was more like, not just a pal, he was more like a second daddy to me and my wife both,” said Woody.
Woody would up with some priceless memorabilia from Sportman’s Lodge by virtue of being Ridley’s next door neighbor. Ridley’s brief case is chock full of photos and other mementos from the show. Woody also has a painting of Ridley sitting in his rocking chair with his signature pipe. Woody says it was given to Ridley when he was hospitalized with a collapsed lung. It was signed by the WRBL employees.
Woody has given the painting back to WRBL as a keepsake from the Sportman’s Lodge days.
“People in Columbus… that was one of the shows just like the Rozell show that people watched on a regular basis and Sportsman’s Lodge was just part of the people’s lives there for 25 years,” said Woody.
Being Ridley Bell’s neighbor certainly had its privileges.
“I got to be on his show. He and I went on the rattlesnake roundup. We went fishing. Went on several different hunts with him, things like that for filming,” said Woody.
The annual Rattlesnake Roundup in Whigam, Georgia is one of Woody’s favorite memories.
“We would take anywhere from 30 to 70 people and maybe be about 10 or 12 carloads of folks, and they’d follow the snake hunter along and watch him, how he would get the snake to come out of the hole and catch the snake. When I’d be out seeing people they’d say hey you’re the snake man, which I was the snake man. I was ten feet away from the snakes. But I was there whenever we went on the rattlesnake roundups and really enjoyed that,” says Woody.
Woody passed away on November 4, 2017. He was 74 years old.