NASHVILLE, Tenn. Grand National Callmaking judges graded hundreds of game calls on appearance and sound quality before crowning the 2009 champions during the National Wild Turkey Federation’s 33rd annual Convention and Sport Show, held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center Feb. 19 to Feb. 22.
Each year, the NWTF’s convention is a gathering place for outdoors enthusiasts in search of the latest outdoor gear, hunting and game calling techniques, entertainment and fun. This year’s convention attracted thousands of sportsmen and women that appreciate and use game calls and understand how a call is supposed to look and sound.
“The NWTF’s Grand National Call Making Competitions are the premier call making competitions in North America,” said George Thornton, NWTF CEO. “They are best place for up-and-coming callmakers to contend with seasoned veterans as they strive to outdo their creations from years past and win bragging rights.”
The NWTF is a national nonprofit conservation organization that was founded in 1973 and has worked with wildlife agencies to restore wild turkey populations from 1.3 million wild turkeys in 1973 to nearly 7 million today. Now, NWTF volunteers raise funds and work daily to improve critical wildlife habitat, increase access to public hunting land and introduce new people to the outdoors and hunting.
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 15 categories.
After the contest, the calls were auctioned at the convention, with some calls raising thousands of dollars for conservation.
Top winners of the 2009 Grand National Call Making contest were:
2009 Grand National Champion Decorative Turkey Call Maker of the Year & Earl Mickel Purchase Award Winner
John Parker, Trenton, Ohio
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.
2009 Grand National Champion Hunting Turkey Call Maker of the Year
Niles Oesterle, Dardenne Prairie, Mo.
Champion of Champions – Neil Cost Award Winner
Scott Baseshore, Denver, 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
Niles Oesterle, Dardenne Prairie, Mo.
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
Michael Lapp, Honey Brook, Pa.
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
Tim Clayton, Sumterville, Fla.
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
Dewey W. Johnson, Hazlehurst, Ga.
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, Best-sounding Wingbone
Ralph Permar, Old Zionsville, Pa.
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.
Outstanding Youth Decorative Turkey Call Maker of the Year
Justin Bald, Elk Grove Village, Ill.
Rookie Decorative Turkey Call Maker of the Year
Mark Wheeler, Kansas City, Kan.
2009 Grand National Champion Decorative Duck & Goose Call Maker of the Year
Best of Show: Mike Houlihan, Portland, Ore.
2nd Best of Show: Jim Dester, Sycamore, Ill.
3rd Best of Show: Joe Bucher, Louisburg, Kan.
2009 Grand National Champion Hunting Duck & Goose Call Maker of the Year
Best of Show: Mike Stelzner, Zumbrota, Minn.
2nd Best of Show: Mike Stelzner, Zumbrota, Minn.
3rd Best of Show: Herb Ohley, Alton, Ill.
2009 Box Call Sets Awards
Don Chancey Award: Scott Basehore, Denver, Pa.
Youth Callmaker of the Year: Josh Shoemaker, Lebanon, Va.
Rookie Callmaker of the Year: James Harrison, Hillsboro, Md.
2009 Convention Sponsors
Bank of America, Bass Pro Shops, Browning, Call Makers and Collectors Association of America, Chevrolet, Crescent Cardboard Co., LLC, Federal Premium Ammunition, Foxy Huntress, Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Knight Rifles, Leupold & Stevens, Longleaf Camo, Marlin Firearm/H&R 1871 LLC, Mathews Bows, Inc., MeadWestvaco, Motorola, Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, National Band and Tag, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., Outdoor Channel, The Outdoor Connection, Inc., Remington Arms Company, Inc., S.C. State Chapter, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Tennessee State Chapter, The Sportsman Channel, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, Weatherby, Inc., Weyerhaeuser, Wild Turkey Bourbon and Winchester Olin
About the NWTF: In 1973, Tom Rodgers founded the National Wild Turkey Federation in Fredericksburg, Va., as a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation and education organization with a mission dedicated to conserving wild turkeys and preserving hunting traditions. Shortly thereafter, Rodgers relocated the NWTF to Edgefield, S.C., where it’s still headquartered today.
At the time NWTF was established, there were only 1.3 million wild turkeys. Today that number stands at more than seven million birds throughout North America, thanks to the efforts of state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members and partners.
Growth and progress define the NWTF as it has expanded from 1,300 members in 1973 to nearly a half million today. With that growth has come impressive strides in wildlife management as the NWTF has forged dynamic partnerships across the country to further its conservation mission. Together, the NWTF’s partners, sponsors and grassroots members have raised and spent more than $286 million upholding hunting traditions and conserving nearly 14 million acres of wildlife habitat.
While wild turkey restoration is nearing completion, the NWTF still has much work to do. Across North America, supporters are working to enhance habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife while providing hunters with more opportunities and access to public and private land. In addition, NWTF volunteers and partners are introducing youth, women and people with disabilities to the outdoors through special educational events.
If you would like to become a member of Team NWTF, join a committee or start a chapter, please visit our Web site at www.nwtf.org or call us at 800-THE-NWTF.