February 19, 2015
MAD Calls pro staffer Billy Yargus is back on top of the turkey calling world after winning the 2015 National Wild Turkey Federation Grand National Calling Contest (GNCC) Senior title this past weekend at the NWTF's 39th annual Convention & Sports Show in Nashville, Tenn.
With Outdoor Channel television personality Michael Waddell serving as the emcee to this weekend's GNCC competitions, Yargus outlasted a field of veteran callers and former champions to capture his second career GNCC Senior championship. The New London, Mo. caller - also a 2004 World Team Champion - had previously won the GNCC Senior title in 2008. Yargus placed third in the same event at last year's NWTF competition.
The big Senior division trophy wasn't the only hardware that Yargus would leave the Music City with either. He finished as first runner-up in the GNCC Team Challenge calling event, pairing up with legendary turkey caller and fellow MAD Calls pro staffer Matthew Van Cise of Brookville, Pa.
Van Cise, himself a five-time GNCC champion, fell short in his bid to defend the 2014 Seniors title he won last year at the NWTF Convention also in Nashville. At this year's competition, Van Cise finished as the second runner-up behind first runner-up Scott Ellis of Mulberry, Fla. and his MAD Calls pro-staffing teammate (Yargus).
This year's GNCC event featured a major change in competitive format used for the Senior callers. In years past, callers would perform their routine on stage while the judges would remain hidden from view, not knowing who each caller was as they performed. This year, the judges panel - which was comprised of legendary callers Mike Batty, Chris Parrish, Preston Pittman, Steve Stoltz and Brad Taylor - sat in the open facing the stage, scoring each caller's contest routine in full view and offering critiques after the various caller's individual performances were over.
While the move was somewhat controversial when it was first announced, the actual unfolding of the event itself was well received by a number of competitors that included the new Senior division champion.
"I feel very blessed to have won," said Yargus in a NWTF news release after his GNCC Senior title win. "Although I was a little against the new format in the beginning, it was absolutely fantastic."
Several other NWTF Grand National turkey calling contests were conducted this past weekend in Nashville. Winners of those competitions are listed below:
Grand National Calling Championships (GNCC) Head-to-Head Competition Sponsored by Cabela's
Winner: Scott Ellis—Mulberry, Fla.
Runner up: Josh Grossenbacher—Vermilion, Ohio
3rd: Jesse Martin—Mt. Sterling, Ky.
4th: Shane Hendershot—Zanesville, Ohio
GNCC Gobbling Championship
Winner: Joe Slaton—Linden, Calif.
1st Runner up: Clinton Phipps—Bethel, Okla.
2nd Runner up: Wayne Dozier—Dickinson, Ala.
3rd Runner up: Colton Good—Albany, Mo.
4th Runner up: Kenneth Weiss Jr.—Mobile, Ala.
GNCC Owl Hooting Championship
Winner: James Harrison—Hillsboro, Mo.
1st Runner up: Mike Ives—Decatur, Mich.
2nd Runner up: Shane Simpson—White Bear Lake, Minn.
3rd Runner up: Carl Drake—Westfield, Ind.
4th Runner up: Kaleb Payton—Central City, Ky.
GNCC Friction Championship
Winner: Robbyn Day—Uvalda, Ga.
1st Runner up: Scott Wilhelm—Chippewa Falls, Wis.
2nd Runner up: Zachary Garnes—Chambersburg, Pa.
3rd Runner up: Pat Strawser—Millersburg, Pa.
4th Runner up: Jason Conrad—Little Rock, Miss.
GNCC Team Challenge
Winner: Mitchell Johnston—Purlear, N.C. & JR Lanham—Bunker, Mo.
1st Runner Up: Matthew Van Cise—Brookville, Pa. & Billy Yargus—New London, Mo.
2nd Runner Up: Kerry Elliott—Paris, Ky. & Jesse Martin—Mt. Sterling, Ky.
GNCC Senior Division Championship
Winner: Billy Yargus—New London, Mo.
1st Runner up: Scott Ellis—Mulberry, Fla.
2nd Runner up: Matthew Van Cise—Brookville, Pa.
3rd Runner up: Shane Hendershot—Zanesville, Ohio
4th Runner up: Sadler McGraw—Camden, Ala.