Most Viewed Stories
Duck calling championship is music to hunters' ears
Johnathan White speaks duck.
With his "red-bone speckle-belly goose call" in hand, the 23-year-old avid hunter from Merced participated Sunday in the California State Duck Calling Championship in Colusa.
"I've been hunting forever and thought it would be great to give (the competition) a shot," White said.
The two-day waterfowl-hunting festival concluded Sunday at Memorial Park in Colusa.
For master of ceremonies Reg Bravo, duck calling is like music.
"It's exactly like playing a musical instrument," he explained. "You never get out any more than you put in."
Similar to the flute or piano or any other instrument, Bravo said experienced duck callers make their instruments sing with virtuosity.
Which is exactly what judges look for when crowing a state champion to represent California in the World's Championship Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart, Ark., in November.
"These aren't the duck calls that you'd hear in a duck blind. Those are two completely different sounds," Bravo said. "This contest shows your ability to control the instrument."
Folsom's Ryan Stahl competed for the second time. He agreed that duck calling is like playing a musical instrument. Stahl, 42, said practicing duck calls for competition can also help improve hunting skills.
"Improving your calling skills helps you respect it as a talent and, like with music, it's satisfying to do," Stahl said.
Pat Kittle, owner of Kittle's Outdoor and Sport who created and organized the event, said Tuesday that "walking through the crowd, I probably ran into 10 to 15 people that I knew that were local. The rest were visiting from out of town."
"It was the first time we tried doing a two-day event. It was much smoother. It got people to stay in town longer, overnight. People made a weekend of it. (There) seemed to be slightly more people here and more sponsors," he said.
Several hundred people came out to watch the contestants on Sunday, check out new hunting equipment and eat a little barbecue.
"We just came down to see what's new and to get our faces painted," said Colusa' s Dennis Cross.
Cross, 42, brought his 5-year-old daughter, Abby, to the park, though she seemed to have little interest in hunting.
Abby sat still, patiently waiting for Yuba City artist Royce Mayo to finish painting a butterfly on her face. Afterwards, Abby went to buy a purple sucker "because it tastes like grape."
Cross said spending a day in the park was a good way to kill a Sunday morning.
"It's good just to get a look around," he said. "I like to check out the new stuff and see what other duck hunters are up to."