Contestant Oliver Gangi of Burnham gets some advice on how to use the call from Levi Hoger, center, and Jim Wescott before using it himself Saturday during a turkey calling contest featured in the 42nd annual State of Maine Sportsman’s Show at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Laurelai Winslow may only be 14 years old, but she has been hunting for at least 10 of those years.

“They’re very fun to watch,” said Winslow, who said she has bagged more than 20 turkeys hunting with her family.

When she isn’t out hunting, Winslow practices her calls at home. That practice paid off Saturday, when Winslow won the youth turkey calling competition at the 42nd annual State of Maine Sportsman’s Show.

The show, organized by The Maine Sportsman magazine and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, kicked off Friday at the Augusta Civic Center and continues through Sunday.

With more than 100 vendors and dozens of activities and seminars, the show offers something for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Organizers expect thousands to attend over the weekend.

The turkey calling competition used to be a larger part of the show, but had lost some interest over the years, said Wayne O’Brien, an award-winning turkey caller who served as one of the judges. This year, show organizers tried to make the event to what it once was.


Jake division winner Ellie Dorr of Jay, left, gets some advice from Jim Wescott as judges listen from behind a curtain during a turkey calling contest Saturday during the 42nd annual State of Maine Sportsman’s Show at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“The whole idea of turkey hunting is turkey calling,” O’Brien said.

A total of nine kids participated in the competition in two divisions. Those under 10 were dubbed the Jakes, and those ages 11 to 16, the Gobblers. The term Jake refers to juvenile male turkeys, while adults are referred to as gobblers.

Each contestant did five calls: a mating yelp, a cluck and purr, a fly down cackle, a cutting call, and a caller’s choice, which could be any animal.

A panel of three judges, seated behind a curtain, awarded each contestant points for each call based on a scoresheet from the National Wild Turkey Federation, though the competition was not officially sanctioned.

At stake? Hats, calls, and other items donated by the sporting goods store Cabela’s, which sponsored the event.

Most of the callers used manufactured calls made of wood, slate and other materials. Jim Wescott, a registered Maine guide and an experienced turkey hunter and caller, helped the competitors who didn’t know how to do certain calls. Most caught on quickly.


Winslow, the 14-year-old from Damariscotta who won the Gobbler division, did some calls vocally and some with a so-called slate call that her father said was custom-made in Indiana.

“I thought the calling was fantastic,” said O’Brien of Windham to the competitors after prizes were awarded. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and this was some of the best calling.”

Oakley Dorr of Jay, who finished second in the Jake Division on Saturday, gets some guidance from Jim Wescott on how to use the box call during a turkey calling contest during the 42nd annual State of Maine Sportsman’s Show at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

O’Brien, whose son Ronnie O’Brien was also a judge Saturday, said that a sportsman’s responsibility is to pass down knowledge to the next generation.

Turkey calling is the most ethical and safest way of turkey hunting, O’Brien said. But with a historically large turkey population and more people interested in turkey hunting, some have turned to other techniques.

That’s why competitions like the one Saturday are important, O’Brien said.

“It’s really a way of life,” O’Brien said. “It’s not a hobby.”

The sportsman’s show continues Sunday at the Augusta Civic Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Scheduled activities include a firearms auction, dog training demos and a game camera contest. Find more information at

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