EDGEFIELD, S.C. (WVNS) — The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is preparing to celebrate 50 years of conservation work. Their work includes the incredible restoration story of the wild turkey.
The NWTF is hosting an event that will also pay homage to the elite competitive callers who made the NWTF’s Grand National Calling Championships what it has become. From 1977 in Hershey, Pennsylvania (the site of the first GNCCs) to today’s grand contest in Nashville at the annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show, many great callers have played a pivotal role in promoting the sport of competitive turkey calling and paved the way for future outdoorsmen and women.
Without their efforts to champion wild turkey hunting and calling in the early days, millions of hunters who pursue America’s greatest game bird each spring would not have the opportunities available today.
Five individuals have been selected for induction in the fourth class of the NWTF Grand National Calling Championships Hall of Fame ceremony, voted by former GNCC champions and their peers. The ceremony will be held Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023 at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. This event in the Governor’s Ballroom is open to the public to freely honor and celebrate five remarkable callers.
“The NWTF Grand National Calling Championships have deep roots in the history of turkey hunting, which has benefited wild turkey conservation for decades. These five callers were integral to the growth of competitive calling and the explosion of interest in turkey hunting throughout the years. We are grateful for their dedication to the NWTF and the Grand National Calling Championships, and we believe the example they set will encourage future outdoorsmen and women to join the NWTF and leave their mark on turkey hunting, wildlife conservation and competitive calling.”NWTF co-CEO Jason Burckhalter
The 2023 class of the NWTF Grand National Calling Championships Hall of Fame includes:
- Ricky Joe Bishop — Bishop has turkey hunted for more than 40 years and started calling competitively in the late 1980s. His wins included the 1994 and 1995 NWTF Grand National Senior championships, the 1997 and 2001 NWTF GNCC Two-Man titles, the 2002 World Two-Man Team championship, the 2002 U.S. Open title, and the 1999 and 2002 Grand American championships. He’s also won the Mid-America championship and has many more wins and top-three placings in more than 100 contests across the country. Bishop has served on the pro-staff of many major outdoors companies, including Realtree, Lohman and Flambeau. He’s designed outdoor products for more than 27 years, and has patented more than 12 products and brought many others to market. He owns a company that has built diaphragm calls for most of the major manufacturers for the past 25 years, with more than 1 million calls produced.
- Tucker Crisp : Crisp holds 11 GNCC titles, including the first Champion of Champions (1997), three Gobbling championships and seven Owl wins. His other titles include: World Natural Voice, two World Gobbling wins, four World Owl championships, two Mississippi State turkey calling titles, five Mississippi Owl wins, the Louisiana State Open, the Louisiana State Open Friction, the Gulf States Classic, four Gulf States Classic Owl wins, the Levi Garrett Turkey Calling title and the Levi Garrett Gobbling contest.
- Matt Morrett : Morrett began his turkey calling career at age 6. Inspired by his father, Tom, Morrett competed in his first calling contest in 1976. In 1987, after competing for 10 years anywhere within driving distance, Morrett won the NWTF’s Grand Nationals Junior title. That year, he also won his first World Friction championship and U.S. Open Friction title. Also that year, he began working with Hunters Specialties (HS Strut) and stayed with the company traveling the country and developing products until 2012. In 1990, Morrett won the Grand Nationals Senior title. He went on to win four more World Friction titles and two U.S. Open championships, and then ended his calling career by winning the 2006 Master’s Invitational title in Pennsylvania. In 2012, he went to work for Zink Calls/Avian-X Decoys as vice president of sales and marketing. He’s taken his 30 years of experience in the hunting industry to work for the Pennsylvania Game Commission as director of the Bureau of Marketing and Strategic Communications, giving back to the resources that have given his career and life so much.
- Mark Prudhomme : Prudhomme holds a record 17 overall GNCC titles (one Gobbling, five Owl, five Champion of Champions, six Team Challenges). He’s also won eight World Championships, including four World Owl Hooting champion and two World Gobbling titles. He’s a two-time NRA World Game Calling champion, a two-time U.S. Open Owl Hooting champion and two-time Grand American Turkey Calling champion. He’s a seven-time South Carolina State and Open Turkey Calling champion, and holds multiple titles from North Carolina (two N.C. Owl Hooting titles, four N.C. State Open Turkey Calling titles, an N.C. State Natural Voice Turkey Calling championship and three N.C. State Open Gobbling titles). Prudhomme is the only caller to win the S.C. State in every game call category (turkey, owl, duck and goose). He was the first runner-up at the World turkey contest, twice the first runner-up at the U.S. Open turkey competition and made the cut for the GNCC Senior Finals 10 times. A 40-year turkey hunting veteran, Prudhomme is also a renowned custom call maker, and won the 2021 Tom Turpin Award. He has co-chaired the NWTF GNCC Committee since 2018, and has judged many World and Grand Nationals contests.
- Lewis Stowe (posthumously) : Stowe was a renowned call maker and won multiple turkey calling titles in addition to two runner-up finishes at the NWTF Grand National Calling Championships, in 1978 and ’79. Stowe’s accomplishments include wins at the World Championship (1981, ’82), North Carolina State Championship (1977, ’78, ’81, ’82), Georgia Open and Friction Championships (1980) and South Carolina Open Championships (1976, ‘77, ‘79, ‘80). He also won the National Amateur Champion title in 1976. Stowe placed second at the National Championship (1977 and ’78), second at the Mid-Atlantic Championship (1979), second at the U.S. Open (1977), third at the World Championship (1978) and was Southern Open champion and Southern Appalachian Open winner. Stowe, who passed away in May 2022, created the acclaimed Stowe-Away All-Weather Slate and Cob Turkey Caller.