California caller takes duck title

Published 5:21 am Sunday, February 10, 2008

By Staff
Holds four world titles for calling duck and elk
Staff Writer
Greg Hubbell Jr. is a soprano. At least that’s how the 12-year-old’s father describes him.
But his talent doesn’t lie in his voice. Although he plays the saxophone, drums and guitar, his talent isn’t with those instruments either, even if he does play those instruments at a world-class level. Greg’s talent can be described as being in the Dr. Dolittle realm.
Since he was 4, Greg has had the gift of imitating calls of various species of wildlife, including ducks, geese, elk and swan, according to his father. The younger Hubbell has reaped many awards for his abilities to “talk to the animal.” Greg is a four-time world elk-calling champion. He has as many world junior-duck-calling trophies to his credit.
In his first year at the Southern Classic Duck, Goose and Swan Calling Championships, held Saturday in Washington, Hubbell placed in the top three positions in two of the three junior competitions.
He took first place in the duck-calling contest, fourth place in goose-calling competition and third place in the swan-calling contest. While Greg’s career as a duck-caller began when he was 6 years old, the young champion taught himself how to call swan only two weeks ago.
Geese from a nearby schoolyard often fly over his Belmont, Calif., home when he’s practicing, Greg said.
Greg’s visit to eastern North Carolina wasn’t all about hard work and competition. He spent Friday visiting his 99-year-old great-grandfather, Nathan Skipper, who lives in Wilmington. He also has grandparents, Nate and Karen Skipper, who live in New Bern. His grandparents, who attended the competitions, cheered for him as he competed.
The young caller’s father, Greg Hubbell Sr., has been cheering his son at various calling competitions across the country. A hunter, the elder Hubbell said he can’t always use his son’s talent in the field.
When the younger Hubbell was 2, his father began to realize his son’s tonal talents when the young boy could near-flawlessly repeat words like “embarcadero” and “psychoanalytical.” The younger Hubbell took his talent for mimicry and sound recognition to the next level when he picked up a duck call.
Hubbell’s father said he is most proud of his son’s ability to internalize his fame and continue to “treat everyone he meets with dignity and respect.” The elder Hubbell admits his son will never let him call waterfowl in public because it would embarrass him.
The world of wildlife calling can expect Hubbell’s talent to continue to improve. The caller’s father said his son’s calling prowess gets better when he sleeps.
Greg said he will call competitively “until I die.”