Waterfowl callers flock to festival competitions

Published 7:40 pm Friday, February 5, 2016

If it sounds like the Turnage Theatre is being invaded by flights of ducks, geese and swans Sunday afternoon, don’t worry. It’s just waterfowl callers showing off their skills.

Some of the region’s best duck-callers, goose-callers and swan-callers are expected to compete in several calling contests Sunday as part of the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships weekend in Washington. The 2016 Eastern Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival open calling competitions — duck, goose and swan — will take place at the Turnage Theatre, beginning at noon. Registration begins at 11 a.m. There is a $20 entry fee for each contest.

The competitions coordinator is Allen Bliven, who lives in Swan Quarter and makes waterfowl calls at his company, Allen Bliven Calls. The competitions include senior and junior divisions. In previous years, winners of the duck-calling contest qualified for the World’s Championship Duck Contest in Stuttgart, Ark., held annually in November. That’s not the situation anymore.

“This contest is just for fun,” Bliven wrote in an email. Plaques will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place finishers. The winner of each contest also gets bragging rights.

As for the number of contestants expected at this weekend’s contests, that’s up in the air, according to Bliven. “As for people showing up, I’ll have no idea. I have found that contest participation has a cycle and for some reason it’s at a low. A calling contest is not unlike any other contest in that everyone wants to be a winner,” he wrote in the email.

Bryce Jones, who lives in Goldsboro, won the 2015 duck-calling titles in the open and intermediate divisions. He also won the title in the junior division of the goose-calling contest in 2015. Jones won the intermediate division in the duck-calling contest in 2014. Jones has won nine calling contests,

Greenville’s Seth Hampton was the winner of the goose-calling contests (senior) in 2014 and 2015. Hampton won the North Carolina goose-calling title in 2015 and 2014. In all, he’s won 11 calling competitions.

Aaron Matthews, an Aydlett resident, won the 2014 and 2015 swan-calling contests (senior). He also won the 2015 and 2014 world’s swan-calling contests. Matthews has won 18 calling contests.






About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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