Talent Earns Callmakers Top Honors at NWTF Convention
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Competition was fierce for hundreds of game call makers who entered their custom works in the National Wild Turkey Federation's annual Grand National Callmaking Competition.
Judges graded all entries on appearance and sound quality before crowning the 2011 champions during the NWTF's 35th annual National Convention and Sport Show, which took place Feb. 17 to Feb. 20.
MidwayUSA was the official convention sponsor.
Each year hunters and outdoors enthusiasts head to the NWTF's convention in search of the latest outdoor gear, hunting and game calling techniques, entertainment and fun. This year's convention took place at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. Thousands of sportsmen and women that appreciate and use game calls and understand how a call is supposed to look and sound were in attendance.
A panel of experts in the fields of callmaking, calling and hunting evaluated calls within four divisions: the Grand National NWTF Hunting Turkey Call Contest; the Grand National Decorative Turkey Call Contest; the Grand National Decorative Duck and Goose Call Contest; and the Grand National Hunting Duck and Goose Call Contest.
Each division of this fierce competition was divided into a number of categories based on the various types of calls hunters use. In the Hunting Call Contest alone, call makers had the opportunity to enter their calls in up to 16 categories.
The NWTF is a nonprofit conservation organization that works daily to further its mission of conserving the wild turkey and preserving our hunting heritage. Through dynamic partnerships with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members have helped restore wild turkey populations across the country, spending more than $331 million to conserve 15.9 million acres of habitat for all types of wildlife.
After the contest, the calls were auctioned at the convention, with some calls raising thousands of dollars for conservation.
Top winners of the 2011 Grand National Call Making contest were:
2011 Grand National Champion Decorative Turkey Call Maker of the Year & Earl Mickel Purchase Award Winner:
Dave Constantine, Durand, Wis.
Earl "Mick" Mickel was a pioneer in developing and creating interest in turkey callmaking and collecting. He published three books on call makers and generously supported both call makers and the NWTF.
Each year, a panel of judges juries the entries in the Decorative Turkey Call Competition and selects a Best of Show call, whose maker is named the Earl Mickel Award winner. The call is then purchased by the NWTF and placed on permanent display in the Wild Turkey Center in Edgefield, S.C.
Best of Class I: Dave Constantine, Durand, Wis.
Best of Class II: Gregg Guthridge, St. Marys, Pa.
Best of Class III: Don Bald, Lebanon, Ill.
Best of Class IV: Andy Cobb, Harvest, Ala.
Rookie Decorative Turkey Callmaker of the Year:
Clint Corder, Mulberry, Tenn.
2011 Grand National Champion Hunting Turkey Callmaker of the Year:
D. Marlin Watkins, Summitville, Ohio
Rookie Hunting Turkey Callmaker of the Year:
Brian Lawter, Rutherfordton, N.C.
Youth Hunting Turkey Callmaker of the Year:
Josh Shoemaker, Lebanon, Va.
Champion of Champions - Neil Cost Award Winner:
Michael Lapp, Honey Brook, Pa.
The Champion of Champions - Neil Cost Award attempts to call attention to and recognize those few select individuals who have mastered the art of callmaking. Cost was responsible for developing the long box or boat paddle style of call. He also was one of the first call makers to checker his box calls and write special inscriptions on them. Cost made all types of calls, scratch boxes, pot and peg calls, wing-bone yelpers and box calls. His integrity as a call maker is unsurpassed and he never let a call leave his shop that did not meet his high standards.
Gibson Award Winner, Box Calls:
D. Marlin Watkins, Summitville, Ohio
The Gibson award recognizes the best-sounding box turkey call and box call maker and is named in honor of Henry Gibson, who patented the first box call in 1897.
Jeremiah Stevens Award, Scratch Box Calls:
Olin Humphries, Eatonton, Ga.
The prestigious Jeremiah Stevens award is named in honor of an African American and former slave who was known for his turkey hunting skills and the making of gun stock or scratch box calls in Virginia. The award recognizes the best-sounding scratch box call and call maker.
D.D. Adams Award, Best-sounding Friction Call:
Lon Trice, Bronwood, Ga.
The coveted D. D. Adams award recognizes the best sounding friction call and striker combination and is named in honor of D. D. Adams, a pioneer friction call maker.
Tom Turpin Award, Best-sounding Air Operated Call:
Brian Mero, Eau Claire, Wis.
The Tom Turpin award recognizes the best-sounding turned trumpet call and is named in honor of Tom Turpin, a call maker and innovator known for, among other things, his turned trumpet calls.
Charles Jordan Award, Best-sounding Wingbone:
Rev. Mike Almond, Albemarle, N.C.
The Charles Jordan Award recognizes the best-sounding wing bone/cane or other material call. The award is named in honor of outdoor and wildlife conservationist and call maker Charles L. Jordan.
2011 Grand National Champion Decorative Duck & Goose Callmaker of the Year:
Best of Show: Todd Hanson, Meridian, Idaho
2nd Best of Show: Mike Houlihan, Portland, Ore.
3rd Best of Show: Dave Constantine, Durand, Wis.
Rookie Decorative Duck & Goose Callmaker of the Year:
Sharon Forte, Nashville, Tenn.
Youth Decorative Duck & Goose Callmaker of the Year:
Jared Kaiser, Bartlett, Tenn.
2011 Grand National Champion Hunting Duck & Goose Callmaker of the Year:
Best of Show: Ronald Laun, New London, N.C.
2nd Best of Show: Mike Stelzner, Zumbrota, Minn.
3rd Best of Show: Mike Stelzner, Zumbrota, Minn.
Rookie Hunting Duck & Goose Callmaker of the Year:
Ken Jones, Hornbeak, Tenn.
Youth Hunting Duck & Goose Callmaker of the Year:
Travis Ward, Huntingdon, Tenn.
2011 Box Call Sets Award:
Don Chancey Award: Michael Lapp, Honey Brook, Pa.
The Don Chancey Award recognizes call makers who have mastered the craft of making and fine tuning box calls.
2011 Convention Sponsors
Academy Sports and Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops, Bank of America, Benelli USA, Browning-USRAC, Call Makers and Collectors Association of America, Chevrolet, Federal Premium Ammunition, Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, HuntVe, Marlin Firearms Company, Mossberg & Sons Inc., Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Nationwide, The Outdoor Connection Inc., Remington Arms Company Inc., Rivers Edge Treestands, SHE Outdoor Apparel, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, Weatherby Inc., Wild Turkey Bourbon, Winchester/Olin Corporation