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The New Turkey Calling Champ

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February 21, 2010
The New Turkey Calling Champ - 10

 

Some of us may feel wild turkeys are the only judges that really matter as calling goes. Some of us never compete in contests. For others, it's a way to hone their skills before they plop down at the base of a broad-trunked oak, and try to work a gobbler.

One highlight of the National Wild Turkey Federation's annual convention includes the calling events held in Nashville this past weekend. You can bet these guys can't wait to get out there this spring like the rest of us. For now though, it's such competitions that allow them to practice their vocalizations before human judges and an audience of interested observers.

So who nailed down the title? Mitchell Johnston, a Purlear, North Carolina resident, separated himself from a preliminary field of 48 callers to win the Senior Division of the Wild Turkey Bourbon/NWTF Grand National Calling Championships. "It's very surreal. It's obviously a dream come true," said Johnston, who finished fifth in 2009. 

After the win, Johnston said: "The first phone call I made was to my wife because she didn't travel here with me this year. As soon as I heard her voice, we both kind of lost it. It was a special moment. I mean this is the best feeling you can have as a turkey caller. It's hitting a grand slam or winning the Super Bowl." 

The Nashville convention concluded on Sunday, February 21. Next up for all of us, spring turkey season (but not soon enough eh). Where are all of you Strut Zoners hunting first? 

 

Comments (10)

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from huntershere wrote 3 years 45 weeks ago

Oh I forgot we had a turkey hunting last year, there was a guy from Nashville who told us about this event. So heads up for the next competition.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntershere wrote 3 years 45 weeks ago

Hunting turkeys is not that popular in my country. Therefor we prefer to hunt rabbits, deers, porks and so on. If you want to choose a gun you have several options. You can choose between are real gun which is called "Jagdwaffe" or sort of a air gun called "Luftgewehr". The 2nd one is less dangerous but the effects are not that big. Anyway congratulations for the contest, seems we have to visit you over there and then take part in it

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from patrick88 wrote 4 years 7 weeks ago

hey pat strawser sounding natural does not have anything to do with being a perfect caller.some of the best turkey hunters i know never made a call!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve Hickoff wrote 4 years 7 weeks ago

Thanks for the insights here Pat.

As I mentioned in my initial post, "You can bet these guys can't wait to get out there this spring like the rest of us. For now though, it's such competitions that allow them to practice their vocalizations before human judges and an audience of interested observers."

I imagine you're like a lot of us. It's all good, and we can't get enough of wild turkeys--while we wait and when we hunt them. Again, thanks again for the comments here on the Strut Zone. Keep in touch when you start your spring hunts.

Steve

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pat Strawser wrote 4 years 7 weeks ago

Most all of us callers take the competition end of it very serious. I was fortunate enough to place on the stage at Nashville this year, and I can tell you that the feeling it gives you is undescribable. I am often confused though of the jealousy that often arises on these message boards, although it's not stated outright,...you can sense it. Instead of congratulating the winners and noticing thier skill and sacrifice,.....it far to often turns to ..."well, it don't mean anything,...the real judges are in the woods,....etc. etc.")
We perfect our calling the same way an archer perfects his shooting,...or a rifleman perfects his shooting,...or a wingshooter hones his skills at the skeet range or the way a fly fisherman practices for that perfect cast,...practice makes a huge difference and your ability to sound as natural as possible makes a HUGE difference as well. Beleive me on this one,....the more you sound like a turkey,...the better results and experiences you will have.

Pat

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 4 years 7 weeks ago

There is hunting season and work seasons for me...unfortunately my work does not involve turkey calling. During work season I must attend to work in order to maximize hunt season. If turkey calling contesting got involved; unless winning was assured; part of my hunt season would get impaired. I will have to stay off the brightly lit stages.
Those guys who do calling contests I am sure can really do a good job of getting birds in. They better than the rest of us must know the difference between the expectations of a human judge and that of the turkey judge.
later,
charlie

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve Hickoff wrote 4 years 8 weeks ago

Thanks for checking in guys. Good points. While calling on the competitive stage obviously involves human judges of varying opinion based on the moment at hand, it's pretty clear when the turkey vocalizations you make work in the spring woods: the gobbler comes to your setup, and you close the deal. Or not. Pretty clear winner (and loser)there! Again though, I think these guys simply love the whole deal, and many (most?)of them are hardcore turkey hunters. One theme I've heard on interviewing some of the guys at the top is that winning and losing via the point system is often so close it can be both frustrating and exhilarating--sort of like turkey hunting!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Levi Banks wrote 4 years 8 weeks ago

I might enter one, but I wouldn't go out of my way to. I'm more or less with Patrick on this one. I would probably get nervous and screw up on stage, in the woods I mostly keep my cool. That would probably be the biggest difference for me.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from patrick88 wrote 4 years 8 weeks ago

was never one to enter a calling contest steve.that stuff on the stage does not mean a thing in the woods its not about being perfect and its not all about the calling it entails alot more than that!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve Hickoff wrote 4 years 8 weeks ago

As pineywoods said in our previous SZ post:

" . . . if you took a live hen to a calling contest and put her behind the screen to make the calls, the quality of the sounds she'd make would probably cause you to be asked to leave the contest and they probably wouldn't refund your entry fee."

More pineywoods, following up on this idea, and I quote: "I've heard turkeys make some horrid sounds and if I hadn't been watching the hen when she made them, I'd have thought it was some novice hunter really messing up. I have made some bad miscues in my calling before and the gobbler still came on in and stayed for dinner. You just don't know."

You got that right man. I think we've all heard real hens we first thought were distant dogs, or maybe other hunters, and then seen the real deals come yelping through the woods. So true.

Have any of you turkey killers ever been in a human-judged calling contest? Again, curious-

If so, how is it different from calling in the woods?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from Steve Hickoff wrote 4 years 8 weeks ago

As pineywoods said in our previous SZ post:

" . . . if you took a live hen to a calling contest and put her behind the screen to make the calls, the quality of the sounds she'd make would probably cause you to be asked to leave the contest and they probably wouldn't refund your entry fee."

More pineywoods, following up on this idea, and I quote: "I've heard turkeys make some horrid sounds and if I hadn't been watching the hen when she made them, I'd have thought it was some novice hunter really messing up. I have made some bad miscues in my calling before and the gobbler still came on in and stayed for dinner. You just don't know."

You got that right man. I think we've all heard real hens we first thought were distant dogs, or maybe other hunters, and then seen the real deals come yelping through the woods. So true.

Have any of you turkey killers ever been in a human-judged calling contest? Again, curious-

If so, how is it different from calling in the woods?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Levi Banks wrote 4 years 8 weeks ago

I might enter one, but I wouldn't go out of my way to. I'm more or less with Patrick on this one. I would probably get nervous and screw up on stage, in the woods I mostly keep my cool. That would probably be the biggest difference for me.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve Hickoff wrote 4 years 8 weeks ago

Thanks for checking in guys. Good points. While calling on the competitive stage obviously involves human judges of varying opinion based on the moment at hand, it's pretty clear when the turkey vocalizations you make work in the spring woods: the gobbler comes to your setup, and you close the deal. Or not. Pretty clear winner (and loser)there! Again though, I think these guys simply love the whole deal, and many (most?)of them are hardcore turkey hunters. One theme I've heard on interviewing some of the guys at the top is that winning and losing via the point system is often so close it can be both frustrating and exhilarating--sort of like turkey hunting!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 4 years 7 weeks ago

There is hunting season and work seasons for me...unfortunately my work does not involve turkey calling. During work season I must attend to work in order to maximize hunt season. If turkey calling contesting got involved; unless winning was assured; part of my hunt season would get impaired. I will have to stay off the brightly lit stages.
Those guys who do calling contests I am sure can really do a good job of getting birds in. They better than the rest of us must know the difference between the expectations of a human judge and that of the turkey judge.
later,
charlie

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve Hickoff wrote 4 years 7 weeks ago

Thanks for the insights here Pat.

As I mentioned in my initial post, "You can bet these guys can't wait to get out there this spring like the rest of us. For now though, it's such competitions that allow them to practice their vocalizations before human judges and an audience of interested observers."

I imagine you're like a lot of us. It's all good, and we can't get enough of wild turkeys--while we wait and when we hunt them. Again, thanks again for the comments here on the Strut Zone. Keep in touch when you start your spring hunts.

Steve

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntershere wrote 3 years 45 weeks ago

Hunting turkeys is not that popular in my country. Therefor we prefer to hunt rabbits, deers, porks and so on. If you want to choose a gun you have several options. You can choose between are real gun which is called "Jagdwaffe" or sort of a air gun called "Luftgewehr". The 2nd one is less dangerous but the effects are not that big. Anyway congratulations for the contest, seems we have to visit you over there and then take part in it

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pat Strawser wrote 4 years 7 weeks ago

Most all of us callers take the competition end of it very serious. I was fortunate enough to place on the stage at Nashville this year, and I can tell you that the feeling it gives you is undescribable. I am often confused though of the jealousy that often arises on these message boards, although it's not stated outright,...you can sense it. Instead of congratulating the winners and noticing thier skill and sacrifice,.....it far to often turns to ..."well, it don't mean anything,...the real judges are in the woods,....etc. etc.")
We perfect our calling the same way an archer perfects his shooting,...or a rifleman perfects his shooting,...or a wingshooter hones his skills at the skeet range or the way a fly fisherman practices for that perfect cast,...practice makes a huge difference and your ability to sound as natural as possible makes a HUGE difference as well. Beleive me on this one,....the more you sound like a turkey,...the better results and experiences you will have.

Pat

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from patrick88 wrote 4 years 8 weeks ago

was never one to enter a calling contest steve.that stuff on the stage does not mean a thing in the woods its not about being perfect and its not all about the calling it entails alot more than that!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from patrick88 wrote 4 years 7 weeks ago

hey pat strawser sounding natural does not have anything to do with being a perfect caller.some of the best turkey hunters i know never made a call!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntershere wrote 3 years 45 weeks ago

Oh I forgot we had a turkey hunting last year, there was a guy from Nashville who told us about this event. So heads up for the next competition.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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