Yonah Invitational Turkey Calling Contest Hosted At Outdoor Blast
The Ag-Pro Outdoor Blast made its return Aug. 20-22 after a two-year hiatus thanks to the dreaded Coronavirus that had most hunting shows closed during 2020. Along with the Outdoor Blast’s return at a new venue—Lakepoint Sports Complex in Emerson—came the show’s first-ever turkey calling contest, the Yonah Invitational.
“The event started as just an idea that John Browning, owner of Pistol Creek Outdoors, had in the late summer of 2019. When he shared the idea with me, I couldn’t wait to do it,” said Donald Jarrett, a GON freelance writer for two decades and a pro-staffer for Pistol Creek Outdoors. “We kicked it around a little and then got in touch with GON. From there, it took off. The planning was rolling along full-steam-ahead until COVID took center stage.”
The 2020 Outdoor Blast originally scheduled in Gwinnett County was postponed due to restrictions put in place by the venue.
“That was extremely disappointing,” said John. “You put all that planning and effort into something, and then it gets postponed for a year. It was understandable, but it was a setback. We are just glad it worked out, and we were able to do it this year. We wanted something that we could grow, and I believe there is a good foundation in place now. I think it was a success for sure.”
The Yonah Invitational is a “Grand National Qualifying Event,” which means it’s sanctioned by the National Wild Turkey Federation. Qualifiers give callers the opportunity to qualify for a golden ticket to the Grand National Calling Championships. Hosted in Nashville at the annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show, this turkey-calling contest is known widely as the Super Bowl of all calling competitions.
“Many people were surprised to see a turkey-calling contest in August, but a serious turkey-calling competitor will tell you that it’s about stage time,” said Donald. “They want to stay sharp by practicing, and there is no better place for that than on the stage competing. They are either looking for that ticket to Nashville or staying on top of their game if they have already earned a trip to the big stage.”
The Yonah Invitational had six divisions at the August Outdoor Blast: Owling, Poults, Juniors, Hunter, Friction and Open. Those winners are below.
Champion: Craig Wolfe
1st Runner Up: Michael Stovall
2nd Runner Up: Hunter Young
Champion: Richard Gun
1sr runner up: Stanley Wimbs
2nd Runner up: Brandon Rich
Champion: Brandon Rich
Champion: Lane Webb
Champion: Gavin Bryan
Champion: Gavin Bryan
“Joe Drake and Terry Rohm, two Georgia guys who have won championships in Nashville before, graciously accepted our invitation to be a part of this event,” said Donald.
“Joe, who has won numerous turkey-calling championships throughout his career, including the team calling championship in Nashville, emceed the Yonah Invitational. Terry, who won the first two Grand Nationals and was recently inducted into the NWTF Hall of Fame, was the Head of Judging at the event.”
When the last yelp was thrown out, the judges and competitors seemed excited for having a sanctioned contest in the late summer.
“We had no complaints,” said John. “We are extremely grateful to Georgia Power, Pistol Creek, JEBs Chokes, Rogue Ammunition, 67 Hunts, South Dakota Hunting Service, Rack Shack and GON for helping make this event possible. We are greatly appreciative of all the callers and friends who showed up to support this event as well.”
If you’re interest in inquiring information on next year’s Yonah Invitational, call Donald at 706.473.8027 or email [email protected].
“Also, the efforts of Alan Benton and the contributions of Tim Anderson of Mossy Oak were invaluable,” said Donald. “I am saddened to report that Tim Anderson has since passed away. He was always willing to help, and his desire to see us succeed with this event was a priority. We are grateful. We look forward to next year.”
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