Outside of the real stage – which is the elk woods in mid-September – there is no bigger venue in the world of elk calling than the annual RMEF World Elk Calling Championships. Elk callers of all ages and from all across North America travel to the RMEF Convention each spring to demonstrate their renditions of authentic elk vocalizations. With 6 categories ranging from Peewees to Professionals there is a place for elk callers of all levels.
The goal of the contest is to produce authentic elk calls during an allotted time. Rather than dragging a real bull elk on stage, the judges are 7 individuals who are knowledgeable and well-versed in elk language. Ranging from outfitters and guides to biologists and elk experts, the judges are sequestered behind the stage where they assign scores to the competitors. At the end of the weekend, a World Champion is crowned in the Peewee, Youth, Voice, Women’s, Amateur, and Professional Divisions.
This years competition was held at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada on March 4-5. Preliminary rounds were held on Friday morning where the judges narrowed the field to the top 5 callers in each division. Additionally, the returning champions from 2010 were automatically flighted into the Saturday morning Finals. Due to having less than 5 entrants in the Voice and Women’s Divisions, the competitors in those categories were automatically advanced to the Finals and Prelimary rounds were not held.
Contestants randomly draw numbers to determine the calling sequence in each division. Callers in all but the Professional division have 30-45 seconds to produce their choice of cow/calf calls and an additional 30-45 seconds to produce bull elk sounds. Judges rank the callers on a scale of 1-20 for cow calls and from 1-20 for bull sounds. The high and low scores for each competitor are dropped, leaving 5 scores for a total possible score of 200 points.
In the Professional division, callers were asked to produce 3 “required” cow/calf sounds, followed by a 30 second “freestyle” routine. They were then asked to produce 3 “required” bull sounds, followed again by a 30 second “freestyle” routine for bull sounds. Each “required” call received a score from 1-10 from each judge, and the “freestyle” routine recieved a score from 1-20 from each judge. With the high and low scores being tossed out, it left a total possible score of 500 points for each contestant in the Professional Division.
For the Finals, the required cow sounds were:
The required bull sounds in the Finals were:
Preliminaries Part 1 (Peewee’s and Youth Divisions)
Preliminaries Part 2 (Men’s and 1st Half of Professional Divisions)
Preliminaries Part 3 (2nd Half of Prfessional Division)
Finals Part 1 (Amateur Men’s Division)
Finals Part 2 (Professional Division)