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Charlotte, N.C.—Once, simple and practical game calls were made for a single purpose: to bring dinner to the table. Today, great turkey call makers are producing calls of such unique beauty and artistry that the average hunter would think twice before taking them into the woods.
    Call collector and expert Howard Harlan once wrote that call making is an “endearing American folk art.” Nowhere is this more evident than at the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Grand National Turkey Call Competition, where dozens of America’s finest artists/callmakers compete for top honors at the nation’s premiere callmaking competition held annually during the NWTF’s Convention and Sports Show.
    The earliest crafters of decorative turkey calls consistently put practicality before aesthetics, adding only enough artistic flare to distinguish their calls from the other makers’. They were usually adorned with burned or etched scenes of strutting turkeys and other wildlife or bordered with simple leaves and scrollwork. Today’s decorative calls barely resemble the legendary Gibson, Turpin, or Lynch calls and are so unique that each can certainly be recognized as individual works of art.
    Artisans such as father/son duo James and Len Yule, Dave Constantine, Kent Freeman, Don Bald, Gary Campanie and Eugene Upward have taken the art form to new levels with delicately-carved calls made of exotic woods and inlays. Some don’t resemble turkey calls at all, but maybe a pile of oak leaves and a turkey feather or a fiddle and bow.
    Though not as elaborate, calls in the Working Calls division are no less artistic. The calls in this category may not be as pretty as the decorative calls, but the craftsmanship that goes into making a piece of wood or slate sound like a turkey is truly an art form. In this division, call makers from across the country put their reputations on the line as a panel of experts carefully scrutinizes the whines, breaks in tone and overall amount of turkey each call possesses.
Named for turkey call pioneer Henry Gibson, who patented the first box call in 1897, the NWTF’s Gibson Award is presented to the maker of the best sounding call and holds the highest honor among turkey call makers.
    Each year, the callmaking competition gets tougher and the calls more elaborate, taking callmaking to new heights along the way. Join us this year in Charlotte, February 22-24 at the Charlotte Convention Center to witness for yourself the art on display at the Grand National Turkey Call Making Competition.
      See Howard Harlan and Earl Mickel as they host a call making seminar on Saturday, February 22.
      For more information on the Grand National Turkey Call Making Competition, call 1-800-THE-NWTF.

About the NWTF: In 1973 when the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded, there were an estimated 1.3 million wild turkeys and 1.5 million turkey hunters. Thanks to the work of wildlife agencies and the NWTF’s many volunteers and partners, today there are an estimated 5.6 million wild turkeys and approximately 2.6 million turkey hunters. Since 1985, more than $150 million NWTF and cooperator dollars have been spent on over 18,000 projects benefiting wild turkeys throughout North America.
    The NWTF is a 390,000-member grassroots, nonprofit organization with members in 50 states, Canada and 11 foreign countries. It supports scientific wildlife management on public, private and corporate lands as well as wild turkey hunting as a traditional North American sport.
    For more information on the National Wild Turkey Federation, call (803) 637-3106, check out our web site at or e-mail questions to

Uploaded: 2/7/2002