February 17, 2015
By Lynn Burkhead, OutdoorChannel.com
The 39th annual National Wild Turkey Federation Convention & Sport Show is officially underway in Nashville, Tenn., at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
And with the annual turkey hunter's gathering opening up in the Music City, the air is already filled with loud and raucous yelps, cuts, cackles, gobbles and owl hoots by competitors on the stage and those warming up in the outside waiting areas.
That cacophony of turkey noise is because the NWTF's 2015 Grand National Calling Championships are now officially underway. And by midday on Friday, some three turkey calling titles had already been decided in northern Tennessee.
In the GNCC Team Challenge on Friday morning, the winners were the tandem of Mitchell Johnston of Purlear, N.C., and JR Lanham of Bunker, Mo., The first runner-up in the team event was the former GNCC senior champions duo of Matthew Van Cise of Brookville, Pa., and Billy Yargus of New London, Mo., The competition's second runner-up team was Kerry Elliott of Paris, Ky., and Jesse Martin of Mt. Sterling, Ky.
On Thursday in the Gobbling Championship, Linden, Calif., caller Joe Slaton was the winner while Bethel, Okla., resident Clinton Phipps was the first runner-up. Wayne Dozier of Dickinson, Ala.; Colton Good of Albany, Mo.; and Kenneth Weiss, Jr. of Mobile, Ala. rounded out the top five in the event.
In the Owl Hooting Championship, also on Thursday, the winner was James Harrison of Hillsboro, Mo., while the first runner-up was Mike Ives of Decatur, Mich. Rounding out the Top-5 were Shane Simpson of White Bear Lake, Minn.; Carl Drake of Westfield, Ind.; and Kaleb Payton of Central City, Ky.
NWTF calling competitions continue over the weekend as the event leads up to its marquee event, the Grand National Senior Finals on Saturday afternoon.
For more on the National Wild Turkey Federation and its vital work to restore wild turkey populations, protect and conserve vital habitat and preserve our nation's hunting heritage, please visit the organization's website at www.nwtf.org.