• Turkey-calling contest set for Rutland
    February 16,2014
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    Photo by Dennis Jensen

    A large tom turkey makes his way through winter in this February photo. A turkey calling contest, held to imitate the sounds that this big gobbler would make, will be held in Rutland on March 15.


    While the calendar says February and the days are frigid, spring cannot be all that far away because the talk of turkeys and turkey season is already in the air.

    Two important spring wild turkey events are approaching, one as early as March 15, the other the last weekend of April.

    The weekend of April 26-27 marks the annual youth turkey hunt. That special hunt will be discussed in next Sunday’s column.

    On March 15, in conjunction with the Vermont Outdoor Show set for March 14-16 at the Holiday Inn in Rutland, the Valleys of Vermont chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will sponsor its inaugural turkey calling contest.

    Judges will decide on six divisions of competition: Open, Friction, Youth, Women, Hunter and Locator.

    Don Isabelle, a spokesman for the VOV chapter, said the event is sanctioned by the NWTF and that the winners of the open, friction and youth divisions will qualify to compete in the 2015 Grand National competition in Nashville, Tenn.

    Registration begins at 10 a.m., with the calling contest set for 11 a.m. All callers must be members of the NWTF.

    While the membership fee is $35, Isabelle said that people who sign up now or soon will receive a $25 Bass Pro gift card. He also said he expects to have some gift cards available on the day of the contest.

    Jake membership, for those under the age of 17, is only $10, but doesn’t include a gift card.

    The Valleys of Vermont chapter boasts about 75 to 80 members, Isabelle said, and the chapter will host a fund raising banquet on March 1 at the Holiday Inn in Rutland. For tickets, contact Steve Roy at 775-4465 or sroy@fs.fed.us.

    Isabelle said that the six different divisions will give a variety of competitors, those both new to calling and veterans, an opportunity to compete.

    Open — “This means they can use any type of call, mouth or friction, and they can come from any state. They can be males, they can be females,” he said.

    Friction — “This includes box calls, slate calls, push-button calls, aluminum calls, any type of friction call can be used,” Isabelle said.

    Youth — Any youth, 17 or under, of either sex, can compete in this division.

    Woman — “A 10-year-old girl or a 50-year-old woman could compete in this division,” he said.

    Hunter — “This division is for anyone of either sex that has never placed in an open or friction division contest, anywhere,” Isabelle said. “Basically, this is for people who are just starting out competing.”

    Locator — “This is where you can use any type of call that you would use to get a gobbler to sound off,” he said. “It could be a crow call, an owl call or a coyote call. We had one guy at the Yankee Classic (calling competition) who did a bull elk bugling and he did it really well.”

    A person could, in fact, compete in several divisions during the competition, according to Isabelle.

    “So, a young girl, for example, could compete in numerous divisions, including the youth division, the woman’s division and the hunter division, if she wanted to,” he said.

    A team of judges, with years of calling experience behind them, will decide the winners. Meanwhile, Isabelle said the calling competition is both educational and fascinating to witness.

    “It’s fun to watch this competition,” he said. “It’s fun to watch the kids get up there. It takes a lot of courage to get up there and compete. Even experienced callers get the jitters when their time comes.”

    Isabelle said there are other factors at work behind all of the excitement of a turkey calling contest.

    “The calling competition gets them excited for turkey hunting. It makes them better callers,” he said.

    For more information on the contest, contact Don Isabelle at vtfullfan@gmail.com or 483-2017.

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