King Kaller makes well-attended debutWORTHINGTON — It isn’t a hobby. It isn’t a sport. It’s a passion. The first King Turkey Day King Kaller brought in competitors from several states and was well attended for a first time event, said Shane Simpson of White Bear Lake.
WORTHINGTON — It isn’t a hobby. It isn’t a sport. It’s a passion.
The first King Turkey Day King Kaller brought in competitors from several states and was well attended for a first time event, said Shane Simpson of White Bear Lake.
Simpson, who helped the King Turkey Board organize the event, is the 2011 MN State Champion Turkey Caller.
“It’s a good turnout,” Simpson said. “And you’re competing with the opening of deer and turkey season in some states.”
A National Wild Turkey Federation-sanctioned event, the King Kaller had people stopping to check it out, from interested turkey hunters to the simply curious.
They listened intently as the competitors clucked, chirped and squeaked, doing their best renditions of turkeys flying down, giving distress calls and yelping.
Ranging in age from as young as six to “it’s impolite to ask,” the competitors entered the contest in several categories — youth, young adult, hunter, friction and open. To qualify for the open class, the contestant had to have won a sanctioned contest.
Neal Herrman of Barron, Wis., said he enters contests in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the surrounding areas.
“You build up a network of guys that keep in touch, and we enjoy visiting with each other,” he stated. “And you have to support the contests so they keep going.”
Steve Morgenstern drove eight hours from Edina, Mo. to attend the King Kaller.
“You meet a lot of really good people, and some are hoping to place so they can qualify for the Grand Nationals,” he said. “For a first-time event, they pulled people from a good distance.”
Morgenstern and Herrman said many of the callers have extensive collections of turkey calling equipment, some of which are considered works of art.
Herrman believes he has more than 500 turkey calls, while Morgenstern has a mere 120 to 130.
“It’s cheaper than collecting guns,” Morgenstern said with a laugh, then changed his mind at a look from Herrman. “Well, mostly cheaper.”
Simpson said he got involved in calling as a teenager in South Carolina.
He and his brother would go into the woods to turkey hunt, and one day came across a man in the forest who asked him if he knew what he was doing when it came to calling.
“I didn’t know a thing, and I told him that,” Simpson recalled. “He gave me a brand new caller, still in the package, and said, ‘Here, learn to use this.’”
In May of 2008, Simpson waited until turkey hunting season was over in South Carolina, then moved to Minnesota to be closer to his girlfriend.
He is the current reigning champion in the state when it comes to turkey calling.
From Plattville, Wis., Don Morshead practices turkey calling about an hour a day, he said, hoping to make it Grand Nationals.
He attends about six contests a year. He has lost part of a leg and two kidneys to diabetes, but still gets out hunting whenever he can, with help from friends.
“This is a nice event,” he said of the King Kaller. “I hope it keeps growing.”
Todd Fairbanks, from Harris, is the regional director for the NWTF, and emceed the event, giving the contestants their calls and making sure the timer was being used.
The contestants, when performing, were allowed three minutes to execute three calls. Judges, sitting on the opposite side of a banner with their backs to the competitor, listened carefully and scored each call.
Look for the results of the King Kaller competition in Tuesday’s edition of the Daily Globe.
Assisting with other particulars was the Worthington NWTF organization, Tomorrow’s Turkeys.
According to a local member, Tomorrow’s Turkeys will be hosting their 13th annual Hunting Heritage banquet Saturday at the Elks Club.
“Gobbling” hour begins at 5 p.m., with a prime rib dinner at 7 p.m.
For more information, contact Al Thiner at (507) 360-8908.