I know it's late in the evening, but as promised, here are the winners of the inaugural Strut Zone "Give Us The Bird" photo contest. We had dozens of entries and some tough competition between many of the pics when it came to judging the winners.
Thankfully I had an assortment of Outdoor Life staffers including editors, graphic artists, our photo director and even an intern assist me in selecting the top images. We each voted for our top five then tallied up the votes and rankings for each. I'll spare you the drama (and the possible confusion given the blog's posting format) of doing a reverse announcement of the lowest to the highest finisher, so without further adieu, our grand prize winner is:
Young James Smith of North Carolina (first picture), whose dad, James, submitted the fantastic image of the boy celebrating his first turkey. The look on James face says it all. Great photo Dad and congrats to James. In addition to a call package made up of calls by Hunter's Specialties, Knight & Hale, Quaker Boy, Primos, Woodhaven Custom Calls and Woods Wise, you will also receive a Pretty Boy Decoy from Carry-Lite as well.
Oklahoma turkey hunter, dedicated wife and mom and NWTF chapter president Christy Fite earned a well-deserved second place finish in the contest for this pic of her Rio that she took early in the season.
Fite killed the Rio during a hunt being filmed by a crew from the NWTF shooting the adventure for one of their programs on the Outdoor Channel. Fite not only chases gobblers in the spring, but is also an avid deer hunter, who has helped introduce to the sport to a number of women and children through events conducted by her chapter.
Christy will receive a complete call package to practice with and use next spring.
Matthew Sell, a student at Frostburg State University in Maryland, took this photo of father/son hunt team Eric and Trey Claar during a hunt in nearby Pennsylvania.
The image captures everything that's great about sharing the woods with a your kids and bringing them up with an appreciation for the outdoors. It is an image of represented in hunts shared by fathers and sons, but as our next winner shows, isn't exclusive to boys. Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself here.
Congrats, Matthew. Your prize pack is on its way.
There's just something about a young hunter that appeals to everyone and this photo of 14-year-old Nicole Larsen sent in by her father Ron is no exception. While photos shot in driveways or in the back of a truck don't usually come off as the most aesthetically pleasing, Nicole's proud look and that awesomely thick rope strategically placed hanging over the bed caught everyone's eye who voted. Nice shot, Dad!
What's maybe even cooler is that the young hunter passed up on six jakes before tagging this California longbeard. Hope you enjoy the calls Nicole. You might want to kick one or two to your Pop for putting your name in the hat.
Matthew Jones of Kentucky has been one of the Strut Zone's earliest followers, even offering detailed scouting reports for his fellow Blue Grass State hunters prior to this past spring season. From all accounts of those who know young Jones, he's one heck of a hunter.
His past season was well-documented with photos as he helped call birds in for a variety of friends and relatives. One of those shots (pictured here) earned the hunter fifth place in our Give Us The Bird contest. The judges really felt it captured the glory of what being in the spring woods is all about. Congrats, Matthew. Now if I can just find your e-mail address!
Just joking. Stuff's on the way.
In fact, everybody's prizes will be shipped out as soon as I can confirm your addresses. Our intern has been looking for more to do. Guess it's time for her to become acquainted with the mail room!
Thanks again to everyone who sent in photos and particularly to the contest's generous sponsors. Please thank them with your support. They are again: