This past weekend I drove to the suburban town of Rogers, MN, just outside of Minneapolis. As I drove past the sky-scraping towers and new housing developments sprawled across the entire city, my mind was elsewhere. I whizzed by cars, through city tunnels and over interstate bypasses with my car radio turned off yelping away on my diaphragm call!
This was Rogers first annual Turkey Calling Competition, which was held at a nearby sporting goods store. I began practicing a few months prior to the competition - working on the high-tone raspy yelp, soothing purr, and the sporadic cackle turkeys seem to do with ease. Between my three mouth calls of choice; a double-reed ‘v’ cut, triple-reed ‘w’ cut and basic double-reed call, I sported a call for each sound that a turkey makes.
Arriving at the sporting goods store, I busted out my calls and practiced calling as I walked down the aisles of spring hunting gear. After a brief walk-through of the store wishing I had each product on the shelf, I escalated my way up the stairs and to the stage area where the competition would take place.
As I passed through the doors, I was shocked to see the amount of competitors registering. It’s always great to see more people getting involved in the sport.
If you have never seen how a competition is run, it’s quite simple. A huge curtain blocks the vision of five judges that are anxiously awaiting your calling talent. A referee or spokesperson announces you by the number you draw, which details when you call and more importantly hides your identity so judges don’t have the slightest idea who you are.
I entered the Intermediate division, which was for participants aged 16-20. I also competed in the Open division, for 21 and up. Nearly one-half hour before the competition began, the spokesman declared what turkey calls were to be mocked. The basic hens yelp, cutting of an excited hen, cluck purr, and kee-kee-run call were to be used in that order and sequence.
The competition began and after a solid two hours of raspy hen yelps, screeching cackles and whistling kee-kee’s the event ended and it was judgment time!
I was pleasantly surprised to hear my name called for 1st place in the Intermediate division and then was called right after to receive my 3rd place Open class award. We received a gift certificate from the sporting goods store and I used it within minutes to purchase some of the new spring gear.
Turkey calling is a lively sport that anyone of any age can participate in. It is a great opportunity to have fun, talk turkey and, if you’re lucky, take home a trophy, plaque, gift cards and the fond memory of the experience.