Turkey callers gobble up attention at St. Louis Boat Show


Mar 11, 2001
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Turkey callers gobble up the attention at Boat Show

By Warren Mayes, Special to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch


There's more to calling a turkey than saying "Gobble, gobble."

"Everybody thinks a turkey makes that gobble sound," said Mike Kenney, a member of the St. Louis Longbeards.

There's the flying down tackle, the plain hen yelp, the assemble call and several other calls. The Longbeards, who have a booth at the St. Louis Boat and Sports Show at America's Center downtown, will hold a contest Saturday.

More than 30 men from six states will be trying to win more than $10,000 in cash, shotguns and trophies in the Mid-America Open Wild Turkey Calling and Owl Hooting championships. They will vie in the preliminary round at 9 a.m. The finals will be held at 3 p.m. The contestants come from as far away as New York and Pennsylvania.

"We've got the best-known turkey callers coming down here for this," Kinney said.

Defending champion James Harrison of Hillsboro, Mo., will be on hand to defend his title. Former national champion Walter Parrett of Farmington will compete. Defending national champion Chris Parrish of Mexico, Mo., will join the fray along with other top competitors such as Ricky Joe Bishop of Alabama and Don Schipp of Arkansas.

For the owl hooting contest, Kenney said, about a dozen men will compete.

"If you've never heard an owl hooting contest, well, it's really a good show," Kenney said. "To hear these guys hoot like an owl with their natural voices is something."

Ray Eye, host of Cabela's Sportsman's Quest on ESPN2, will be the master of ceremonies for the event.

"He's known as the living legend in turkey calling," Kenney said. "He been a guide for many years."

The skill to master turkey calling takes a long time, Kenney said. Many hours of practice are needed to hone the skill to entice a gobbler to leave his hen to come looking for you.

"I tell you what, it's one of those things you got to practice day in and day out," Kenney said. "Some of these guys are former national champions. It's a skill that takes a long time to master. A lot of them do it with their natural voice. That's harder than buying a manufactured call and doing it that way."

Some in the contest will use a mouth call, Kenney said.

"It's a little reed they stick in their mouth and they make their yelps and calls and clucks," he said.

The judges can pick up the slightest variation, too, so mistakes are noticed. Each contestant makes five calls and is awarded points for each call. The caller with the most points wins.

"It's like a note you have to hit just like playing a piano," Kenney said. "You miss one note in the calling, the judges know that."

Longbeard member Steve Skyora said the call used in the morning is to stimulate the gobbler to gobble on the roost.

"You want to sound like a lonely hen," Skyora said. "You're supposed to try and get the gobbler to gobble with this call. You want to get the gobbler to come to you. You see, in real life, the gobbler gobbles and the hen comes to him. They won't leave hens to come to you unless you get him stimulated enough to come to you. That's what this contest is about."

There is just one call for the owl, Kenney said.

Skyora said the owl call is intricate

"It's an eight-note call from the bard owl," he said. "The feathers on the chest look like bars so they call them bard owls."

Of course, there are other animals that can be imitated and contests can be held for but they are not a part of this competition.

"Oh, now they got crow calls, woodpeckers and coyote howling," Skyora said. "You can get into all kinds of things. But I think what we have here is fine. People will like it and get into it."

End article


Anybody know this Mike Kenney? My Dad and I used to hunt with a Mike Kenney out of St. Louis many moons ago.


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Jul 14, 2001
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Keep us informed on this. Like to know who win's this contest. Me...if I were a betting man I would put my money on eather Walter Parrott or Chris Parrish.

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