deer

Dylan Norris applies measuring tape to a huge, nontypical deer.

WHEN IT COMES to talkin’ turkey, few people do it better than Tyler Presley of Front Royal, Va. It may seem funny describing a 21-year-old as a senior, but that is the division in which this young man competes, often against turkey calling professionals more than twice his age.

Presley repeated as the Senior Open Division champion Saturday in the Virginia State Turkey Calling Championships at the 36th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show in Richmond. The contest was sponsored by the Virginia state chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Presley won, also, the Virginia Open Division and placed second in the Friction Open Division. North Carolinian Dylan Bearden won the open friction title. Bearden placed second in that division at NWTF’s Grand National competition in Nashville earlier this year.

Presley’s younger brother Matthew was uncontested in the Intermediate Division. He was that division’s first runner-up in the Grand National.

In friction divisions, competitors use calls that simulate turkey sounds by applying one material against another. For example, it can be wood against wood, as in a box call, or wood or carbon against glass or slate as in a “pot and peg” call. Depending on the pressure exerted and the finesse of the caller, the calls can make a wide range of sounds from raspy yelps to delicate clucks and purrs.

Personally, I like watching friction calling events. I’ve never been able to use a latex, diaphragm-style mouth call, so seeing and hearing how competitive callers elicit various sounds is instructive.

Both Presley brothers are virtuosos with a mouth call. They are members of the Dead End Game Calls company’s elite road crew staff. The company has mouth calls named for them.

Tyler used mouth calls exclusively in his open division wins. Competitors can use whatever type of call they prefer in the opens. In this year’s senior open, the four calls each competitor had to make were the kee-kee run (a call associated with the fall and a lost young turkey), basic clucks and purrs, a hen yelp and a basic tree call (the soft calls turkeys make on the roost).

One judge confided after the competition that he awarded perfect scores on each of Presley’s calls. “I just don’t know if I have ever heard a cleaner run,” he said.

Judges are screened from competitors. They can hear the calls, but not see who is making them. On some of the softer calls, such as clucks and purrs, competitors often position themselves very close to the cloth screen, ensuring judges hear the subtle nuances they’re making with the call.

With their respective wins, both Presley brothers again qualify for a spot on the big stage at the NWTF Grand Nationals, scheduled for Feb. 12-16, 2020 at the Gaylord Opryland Complex in Nashville.

Deer Classic

The Sportsman Show saw big crowds over the weekend. The number of families taking in the show was impressive and many booths had special attractions just for the kids.

I can’t visit the show without cruising through the Virginia Deer Classic, a trophy buck exhibit where hunters have their most mature, striking specimens measured using the Boone & Crockett Club’s trophy deer system. The event is sponsored by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association (virginiadeerhunters.org).

Several incredible bucks sported huge non-typical antlers. A non-typical rack is one that varies from the traditional symmetrical antler design usually seen on a white-tailed deer. Several deer seemed to have multiple main beams, palmation, monstrous, gnarly brow tines and antler bases or drop tines extending off both antlers.

The star of the show was a buck taken by Tom Harvey in Campbell County early last December. This non-typical measured 202.25 inches. This was one of those deer that seemed to offer two main beams on its right side and determining which was the true maiIn beam caused scorers some consternation.

Many hunters believe last year’s deer rut was all over the board, timing-wise. Usually, the second week of muzzleloader season is rock and roll time for pre-rut activity and hunters drop the hammer on some incredible specimens during that window. This year, though, many hunters told me they thought the last week of the early archery season was the time of peak activity and movement by mature bucks. By the middle of the first week of muzzleloader season, things had tailed off appreciably.

Thirty bucks were entered in the muzzleloader division, which saw Lawson Farmer’s 170.75-inch buck claim top honors. The highest-scoring archery buck was a 169.87-inch non-typical taken by Tyler Marshall.

The VDHA’s Denny Quaiff said 35 entries came in the youth division and he indicated they were very pleased with that level of interest. William Faison’s deer was the biggest of the youth entries, measuring 152.25

Banquets Coming Up

I’m told by NWTF Gray Ghost Gobblers chapter president Mark Jenkins that a few tickets remain available for their annual banquet Aug. 17 in Warrenton at the Fauquier Fairgrounds. And, ticket sales are ramping up for the Fredericksburg Ducks Unlimited 49th Annual Crab & Beef Feast on Sept. 6. That big event is at the Fredericksburg Fairgrounds. See more details in the Outdoors Calendar.

For more outdoors coverage, including a video of the Virginia Senior Open turkey calling competition, see Ken Perrotte weblog at outdoorsrambler.com.

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