Approximately 39 percent more championship caliber turkey callers than last year will descend upon Mobile, Ala. for the 2023 World Turkey Calling Championship, slated for June 9-10 at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center, located at One South Water Street.
“We’ve had a tremendous increase in the number of callers who want to participate in this event,” remarked Kenny Weiss, the event organizer. “We have 22 competitors entered in the Open competition and 21 in the Friction competition. Some others inquired about registering to compete, but the registration had already closed.”
All of those competitors will face two days of intense competition to earn the coveted world champion title in this National Wild Turkey Federation sanctioned event. The contest actually features multiple competitions at various levels and age divisions ranging from young children to defending world champions. Individual callers could win multiple world championships by competing in several divisions.
“We will have several World Champions and Grand Nationals champions coming to compete in Mobile,” Weiss stated. “Callers will be coming from Pennsylvania, Iowa, Missouri and all over, probably more than 20 states, to compete here. It’s going to be a jam-packed two days. We’re running six divisions and two preliminaries. We encourage the public to come out and listen to these great competitors.”
Starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, June 9, callers 10 years old or younger will compete in the Poult Division. Callers between the ages of 11 and 15 years old compete in the Junior Division. The Intermediate Division includes people 16 to 20 years old. People of any age can compete in the Amateur Division if they never won a previous championship. Spectators can come watch the action for free.
Most of the youth and amateur competitions will be held on June 9. Also that day, adult callers will compete in preliminaries for their respective divisions. Adult callers can enter various contests including Gobbling, Friction Calling, Owl Hooting and the Open division. To win the World Open Championship, entrants must make several specific calls.
“We moved the Poults, Junior and Amateur Divisions to Friday,” Weiss explained. “We are going to run those between the Friction and the Open preliminaries. The preliminaries will take the longest because they have the most competitors. The 2022 winners in each of their divisions will automatically go to the finals of their divisions so they can defend their titles. However, they still need to compete in the preliminaries where they could possibly earn some cash.”
In one of the most popular categories, teams of two join in the Team Challenge competition. In this event, two people act out specific scenarios as if they were turkeys complete with various calls made by turkeys and other animals. For all events, a panel of judges sequestered behind curtains so they could not identify the callers except by the random numbers given to each person for a particular event will score all the efforts.
“We have an all-star lineup of judges,” Weiss proclaimed. “I would never have dreamed that I’d be calling some of these living legends my friends, but they’ll be here. They are coming from Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri and elsewhere to judge this prestigious competition. Preston Pittman will be here this year. He was not able to participate in 2022. Terry Phillips from Arkansas will be another judge. Don Shipp will be coming in to judge. When it comes to turkey calling, these guys don’t get any bigger or better. They are great people to know and they know their business.”
Preston Pittman with Pittman Game Calls of West Point, Miss. won multiple calling championships, as have the others. Don Shipp of Clinton, Ark., an avid hunter, also won multiple calling championships. All bring a wealth of calling and hunting experience.
The “Turkey Man,” Eddie Salter will serve as the emcee. Salter grew up in Evergreen, Ala. and began hunting turkeys with his father and grandfather at an early age. Soon, he began competing in calling contests. Over the years, he won multiple state, regional and world championships. He also garnered the title of one of the “Top 10 Sportsmen in the United States” in 1986 and 1989.
During judged events, other competitors and spectators must remain quiet to avoid disturbing the callers as well as the judges. However, between judged sets and during breaks, the best turkey callers in the world will be available to answer questions. Fans can’t just walk up to a top NFL quarterback between plays or a Major League Baseball pitcher on the mound and start asking questions, but at this event, people can learn a wealth of information about turkey hunting, calling and other types of hunting. Many of the judges and competitors hunt other game besides turkeys.
“Back in the old days, I was able to spend some time with the greatest callers in the world,” Salter recalled. “When I competed against them, we would do a lot of talking among ourselves. I’d ask them questions to learn from them. For me to be in the same room with those guys and ask them questions was worth it whether I won the competition or not. They helped me a bunch. I encourage all the turkey hunters to come watch and ask these callers questions. Ask to look at their calls. People would be surprised at how friendly most of these guys are. They are willing to help others.”
During the 2022 event, Wayne Dozier from Dickinson, Ala. took the coveted top prize by winning the World Open Championship as the best all-around caller. Dozier also won the Gobbling World Championship and teamed with Jared Lowe to win the Team Challenge competition.
Anthony Woods from Richlands, Va. won the 2022 World Championship Friction Calling contest. Bob Huber from Fishertown, Pa. won the Owl Hooting title. Mason Johnston won the Amateur Division. Matthew Presley won the Intermediate Division. Chase Roberts won the Junior Division and Gavin Bryan won for the Poults.
The first World Turkey Calling Championship took place in Mobile on Jan. 4, 1940, but it went elsewhere for decades. It briefly came back to Mobile in 2012, but went to Stuttgart, Ark. for six years. Weiss was instrumental in bringing the oldest turkey calling competition in the world back to Mobile in 2019 where it has been ever since.
“We really want people to come out and watch the best turkey callers in the world,” Weiss urged. “This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about turkey calling and turkey hunting and get some tips. Most of the judges and callers are very personable people. They don’t mind talking to others about turkey calling or turkey hunting. They’re more than willing to give people a pointer or two that could make them better turkey hunters. I’m very thankful for the support we’ve received from the people with Mobile Sports Authority. Without them, we could not hold this competition in the Mobile Convention Center.”
For more information about the World Turkey Calling Championship, call Weiss at 251-605-6077 or send an email to email@example.com. On Facebook, do a search for World Turkey Calling Championship.