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On Sunday, October 9th, the Mechanicsville Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, on behalf of VA Ducks Unlimited, hosted the VA State Championships of duck and goose calling right here at our own Green Top Sporting Goods store. This is the second year that we have hosted the VA calling contests. There were six contests in all, a duck and goose contest for youth, a duck and goose contest for VA state residents, and a duck and goose contest for residents of all states. Each contest had three rounds. The callers for each contest were isolated in a separate area, then drew numbers to see what order they would call in for that round. When it was their turn they would go out to the “blind” where they’d have a warm-up, then blow a 90 second calling routine. Depending on the number of entrants and how close the scores were, there would sometimes be “cuts” after each round to reduce the number of callers, and sometimes all callers would compete again in the following round.

Five judges were isolated for each contest so they wouldn’t know who was calling, but where they could clearly hear each person’s routine. There is a certain “song” that is supposed to be blown in duck calling contests, with certain notes performed certain ways in certain orders, and the judges score each contestant on the execution of that song. Points are awarded for clarity and quality of sound, and proper delivery of the calls required. Points are taken away for sticking or squealing a note, for breaking away from the expected order of calls, or any other error as perceived by the judges. Goose calling is judged similarly, with the main difference being that a goose caller has more flexibility in choosing what calls he wishes to use and in what order, just so long as he delivers them clearly and in a way that appeals to the judges, following the idea that he attracted a far off flock, brought them close, they swung around and made to leave, he called them back and brought them in to land.

After three rounds of calling, with contestants drawing numbers each round for a new and random order of callers, the contest is brought to a close and scores from all three rounds are tallied.  The callers who blew in the final round are brought back out in front of the audience, and the winners are called forward and awarded their prizes. Then a little recess is called to let people use the restroom or get a snack, and then it is time to isolate the next group of callers and to start the next contest.

 It started with a Youth Goose contest followed by a Youth Duck contest, where one contestant flew all the way here from California in order to compete. The youth contests awarded points to the top five finishers for an annual contest held by Kruger Farms, and points accrue throughout the year from many contests around the country, ultimately awarding the yearly winner with a plethora of good hunting gear once the year’s total points are tallied. Smaller prizes are awarded at the individual youth contests, such as this one. Ages of contestants ranged from 8 to 15, and calling skill levels varied too, but it was absolutely great to see young kids getting into this great sport. And some of the talent these kids had was absolutely amazing. I dare to say that when they get a little older, our current champions are going to have their hands full!!!

            The VA State Goose and State Duck contests were up next, and I’ll be the first to say that I was a little disappointed in the turn out for these two contests this year. I know of some very good callers in this state, and have seen them at previous years’ contests, but they didn’t make an appearance this year. (You know who you are.) Of course for those who did show, it was a little easier to finish near the top- always a plus! As such, with no practice or preparation, on a last minute “why not” entry, I was able to bring home second place in the state goose contest. Woohoo! Lee Williams beat me out and took home first in the goose contest. This is Lee’s third straight year winning Virginia’s Goose Calling Contest and he’s a very strong caller. Jesse Lineberry won Virginia’s Duck Calling Contest, and it included a commitment to go to Stuttgart, Arkansas to represent Virginia this November and compete in the World Duck Calling Championship. I wish him Good Luck!

            The last two contests were the Lower Chesapeake Open Contests and some very talented callers from other states including Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, Virginia, and a California visitor made a good show of it. If you wanted to see what top level calling looks like, those were the contests to see. Some of those guys make me realize that I still need training wheels when I use a call. It was impressive. Trevor Shannahan won both of the open contests this year, and it takes a ton of talent to be the best at both types of calling. Way to go Trevor!

            I hope that Ducks Unlimited and Green Top will be able to host next year’s contests once again, and I encourage you all to come out and enjoy it with us. If you’re up for it, start practicing now, and come out next year and compete in the Virginia contests. You’ll have a good chance, it’s a lot of fun, and it supports a great cause- the ducks! And if you don’t want to compete, then come and sit under the tent, enjoy some snacks, and check out the best of duck and goose calling around.

-Brad Stephenson

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