Cluck, purr, yelp!

Published 9:01 am Monday, August 15, 2011

Brayden Bishop competes in the turkey-calling contest Saturday at the Mower County Fair. -- Eric Johnson/

Turkey callers compete at Mower County Fair

Youngsters competed in the cluck, the purr and the yelp Saturday. But it wasn’t some new dance craze.

Instead, those were the three calls 16 area youth performed during the Cedar River Longbeards’ turkey calling contest.

“Too many kids are losing touch with the hunting sports,” Doug Bergemann, chapter treasurer/banquet chair.

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Despite the numbers dropping from 22 last year, Bergemann said Mower County’s contest is one of the most attended the Longbeards put on. The top scoring boy and girl each won a pellet gun.

Callers used many different methods to call a turkey. A box call is the most common, according to Bergemann, but there’s also a slate call, diaphragm call and one participant called using just his own voice.

“That’s super,” Bergemann said. “That takes a real talent to build, just to make a turkey call natural without any assistance.”

While most of the devices are sold in stores, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily easy to use without practice.

“It’s a lot of practice,” Bergemann said. “The ironic thing is that no two turkeys are the same. There’s not a right or wrong way necessarily. It’s just practice, being comfortable and making the sound.”

Still, Bergemann said the judges watched for the consistency and accuracy of the sound.

Fourteen-year-old John Ferris appears to be the caller to beat going next year. Ferris won the contest this year and he won in its first year, making it two out of three.

“We just all like hunting and honing our skills at turkey calling,” said Ferris, who used a slate caller.

Ferris has accumulated a small gun collection through his victories. He took home a 12-gauge shotgun with his first win and a pellet gun this year.

Ferris said he likes to turkey hunt with Colin Hasley, 14, and Brad Gerlach, last year’s contest winner.

Ferris, Hasley and Gerlach all said they hope more people participate in the future.

“If you’re questioning going, just go,” Ferris said.

Bergemann said they’re looking to continue the contest and attract more participants in the future.

“We’d like to see it grow,” Bergemann said. “We’d like to have 30-40 kids doing this. For something that doesn’t cost them anything, it’s a good experience to try it out.”