Scott Ellis went head-to-head with old friend Jesse Martin and came out on top to win the NWTF Grand National Calling Championships third-annual Head-to-Head title Feb. 16 at the NWTF Convention and Sport Show.
Ellis, who lives in Mulberry, Fla., outlasted a valiant effort by defending champion Martin, who won eight straight matchups while climbing back through the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination, 31-caller event.
In the Head-to-Head competition, two turkey callers perform at the same time with the judges determining the winner. The competition stretched over six hours.
“It was a long, long day,” said Ellis, who went first in the back-and-forth exchange in the finals and was undefeated in the competition. “This event has come a long way in the last few years. Now, you really have to step up and do something extra. It’s a lot different than other types of calling contests.
“Two callers are going against each other and the crowd gets excited. Having Jesse in the finals was great. We kind of came up together in this.”
Martin, a Mt. Sterling, Ky., native, had the misfortune of facing former winner Shane Henderson in the opening round then had to win several matches to remain alive in the bracket.
“There were so many ups and downs with the anticipation and waiting for the next opponent,” said Martin. “The excitement and the crowd make it real fun for me.”
The NWTF, a non-profit organization, is the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation in North America. The NWTF is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and other wildlife species and the preservation of our hunting heritage.
Through vital partnerships with state, federal and provincial agencies, the NWTF has conserved 17.3 million acres of wildlife habitat, investing more than $412 million.
Since the NWTF was founded in 1973, the wild turkey population has increased from 1.3 million to almost 7 million and has been restored to 99 percent of suitable habitat. Wild turkeys are in the 48 continental U.S. state and Hawaii.
Logo courtesy National Wild Turkey Federation