AUGUSTA — The moose-calling contest Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center only drew four contestants, but the qualifier for the first world invitational showed the judges the championship event should be wicked good.

“This is the first one where people brought props. They brought in trees and paddles,” said Don Kleiner, a judge and the Maine Professional Guides Association executive director.

The World Invitational Moose Calling Championship will be held in Oquossoc on June 23 in conjunction with the Maine moose lottery and the three-day moose festival being held in the Rangeley region by the Rangeley Region Guides and Sportsmen’s Association.

“We’ve wanted to do this for a long time. When Rangeley got the moose lottery, we figured there was no better time,” said Kirby Holcombe of the Rangeley guides association.

The moose-calling contest Saturday at the Maine Sportsman’s Show, like the three other qualifiers held before it at other venues, drew few guides. And having never held a moose-calling championship before, Kleiner said the guides running it were not certain what to look for – but they liked what they found Saturday.

Contestants were judged on their ability to simulate a cow call and a bull call, and perform in a way that would draw in a moose.

The props used, in addition to entertaining the audience of about 150, got the callers points.

“This was the best one for showmanship. One guy brought a paddle and put it on his head to look like a bull. Yes, it’s done (in the wild). Yes, I know about it. But it was fun to see,” Kleiner said.

But then he added quickly: “It’s important to say to people when you speak about this – be careful if you try this.”

Brett Patten of St. Albans won for his large and impressive display of trees that he hauled onto the civic center stage and shook to simulate a real moose-calling episode.

Greg Drummond, who took fourth to advance to the world finals, had never competed in a moose-calling contest before, but brought a paddle, as he would when calling in a moose.

The owner of Claybrook Lodge in Highland Plantation has guided for moose for wildlife watchers for 10 years with much success.

However, Drummond said Saturday he took note of how to improve his on-stage calling performance.

“Next time, I’ll tell a story,” Drummond said.

It’s worth figuring out.

At the World Invitational on June 23, the best caller will win $1,000. And right now only 13 moose callers have qualified.

But organizers hope more try out.

“The last qualifier is June 2. And people can also send in DVDs. We’ve opened the door for that,” said Registered Maine Guide Roger Lambert, the contest’s director.

No matter.

Kleiner said regardless how the first Maine moose championship plays out in June, it will continue.

“We’re thinking if the Rangeley guides don’t continue it, we’ll take it over next year,” Kleiner said. “It’s fun, and it’s a signature Maine event.”