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Yelps, Hoots, and Cackles at NWTF Calling Event

March 13, 2018
By Brenda Layman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

The River Valley Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation hosted its 12th Annual Calling Contest on January 20. The event took place at the Cincinnati Travel, Sports & Boat Show, held at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Callers competed in eight divisions: Poults, for callers 10 years old and younger; Jakes, for callers up to 17 years old; Owl Hooting; Open; Friction; Amateur; Gobbling; and Location.

Ethan Jones placed first in the Poults Division. Chase Roberts placed second and Caden Roberts placed Third. Jones and Caden Roberts also placed first and second, respectively, in the Jakes Division, while Lane Elliott placed third.

The Owl Hooting Division came next. Six competitors performed their best calls onstage, against a woodland scene backdrop. Dylan Bearden took first place. Scott Holcomb placed second, and Caleb Peyton came in third.

Article Photos

Chase Roberts, age 9, finished with two second place finishes in the River Valley Longbeards competition; in the Amateur and Poults divisions. Photo by Mark Layman

Owl Hooting was followed by the Open Division. The six callers mesmerized the audience with their Spring Scenarios as they clucked, purred, and cackled, using both pot and diaphragm calls. After two tie-breaker rounds, Josh Grossenbacher was declared the winner. Dustin Jones placed second and Mark six was third. Jones was the only winning caller in this division to use pot calls, using some of his own Blackstone Custom Calls.

The largest competition of the day was the Friction Division. Eleven competitors gave their best Tree Call, Fighting Purr, Fly-Down Cackle, and Kee-Kee Run. Five callers placed in the division: Dustin Hamby, first; Dustin Jones, second; Dylan Bearden, third; Haley Newell, fourth; and Brad Roberts, fifth.

Next came the Amateur Division, where young Ethan Jones collected his third first-place award. Chase Roberts placed second and Caden Roberts placed third.

Gobbling followed. Kerry Elliott gobbled his way to first place, followed by fellow talented gobblers David Johnson, second place, and Erik Kirby, third place.

The final competition was the Location Division. Callers imitated both owls and crows before performing their best call. Hunter Staples placed first, Dylan Bearden took second place, and Colton Staples won the third place award.

Callers from eight states, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania gathered for the event. Dave Williams, River Valley Longbeards Chapter President, said, "Callers consider the River Valley Longbeards Calling Contest the Mini Grand Nationals of turkey calling." The River Valley Longbeards Chapter has received NWTF's Full Fan Award for the most active, most contributing chapter for five consecutive years.

Caller Dustin Jones first competed in 2006. "I thought I was pretty good," he said. "Then I got up there with those guys, and I found out what 'good' means!" Jones returned home to practice for two more years before he competed again in 2008. Since then he has become a champion caller, well-known in the turkey-calling world. He builds Blackstone Custom Calls (Beaver, OH), the pot calls both he and his son, Ethan, used in the day's competitions. He can build 60-70 calls in a month.

"I got the interest in 2005," Jones said. "My grandfather was a woodworker, and I thought this would be fun."

When asked how others with an interest in calling can learn the skill, Jones replied, "Do not doubt yourself. It helps to have a mentor. It's amazing what you can teach somebody in five minutes. You can also learn by getting out into the woods and listening."

Jones said that turkey hunting is about 50 percent calling and 50 percent woodsmanship. "If you're going to turkey hunt, take your time and get your call ready," he advised.

More information about upcoming turkey calling events is available from the National Wild Turkey Federation at



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