RENO, Nev. Super Bowl MVPs go to Disney World; championship teams visit the Oval Office. But come fall, Joel Turner of Eatonville, Wash., would like nothing more than to leave his RMEF/Leupold World Elk Calling Championship hardware at the house and slip off into the elk woods.
On Saturday, Turner won the 2010 World Elk Calling Championship title in the professional division, giving the Northwest native his second world championship in the last three years.
"It feels great," said Turner, a 33-year-old police officer who works as the lead firearms instructor at Yelm (Wash.) Police Department. "I've been calling elk since I was 12 years old. I practice my elk sounds every day; I have different sounds on CDs that I listen to on my to and from work."
Turner, who has been competing in the World Elk Calling Championship for five years in the professional division, also won the World Championship in 2008. But every year he comes to compete, Turner said, the competition gets tougher and tougher, exemplified by the tie between he and eventual second-place winner, Rockie Jacobsen.
With the scores tied between the two competitors at the end of the event, the pair returned to the stage individually for one more chance to impress the judges. Using his approach of "calling to the elk's instincts and not its attitude," Turner employed the same sounds that he uses in the elk woods, where his success (six bulls in seven years, all coming with a bow) have been equal to those of his competitive calling.
"When you call at a bull (with a single cow sound or challenge call), sometimes, when he's got a lot of cows with him, he'll just take those cows and run off unless he's just absolutely rut crazed," Turner said. "My philosophy is different. I try to create a rut scene. Elk want to be a part of a rut scene it's part of their nature to want to be involved in a scene where something like that is going on and they come running."
Judge Jay Scott, a first-time judge in the World Elk Calling Championships, said determining a winner was extremely difficult.
"The competition was so stiff," Scott said. "If you look at the scores, the competition in the men's and the pro division was very tight."
Sequestered behind a solid curtain, judges in the competition cannot see the competitors as the callers are identified only by a number (determined by calling order) to ensure nothing influences the final outcome.
"When they said there was a tie, none of the judges knew if it was for first place or last place," Scott said. "Ironically, though, the two callers that I thought were the best happened to be the ones tied. But I would have to find out what number the winner was and look back at my score sheet to even see if I had scored him the highest, but I think he won because his calls were just so crystal clear. They were both so good, either of them could have won."
2010 Elk Calling World Championships final results
1. Joel Turner, Eatonville, Wash.
2. Rockie Jacobsen, Kamiah, Idaho
3. Bryan Langley, McMinnville, Ore.
1. Thomas Diesing, Loveland, Colo.
2. Dirk Durham, Moscow, Idaho
3. Greg Hubbell, Belmont, Calif.
1. Misty Waggener, Priest River, Idaho
2. Amy Morris, Payson, Utah
3. Brittani Currier, Montrose, Colo.
Natural Voice Division
1. Greg Hubbell, Jr., Belmont, Calif.
2. Gavin McKitrick, McAllister, Mont.
3. Michael Hatten, Elko, Nev.
1. Ross LeValley, Hotchkiss, Colo.
2. Brayden Langley, McMinnville, Ore.
3. Austin Durham, Moscow, Idaho
Pee Wee Division
1. Colton Crawford, McMinnville, Ore.
2. Morgan Priest, Reno, Nev.
3. Matthew Bertero, Reno, Nev.
Volunteers make it go
Over 10,000 devoted volunteers for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation contributed more than $16 million in donated labor last year and are on pace to exceed that amount in 2010. RMEF volunteers spearhead fund-raisers but also get their hands dirty laboring in elk country.
They assist wildlife and land managers by building wildlife drinking stations, helping to control weeds, removing unneeded fencing and countless other jobs.
"Sixteen-million dollars worth of donated labor would elevate some companies into the Fortune 500, but our volunteers aren't motivated by corporate interests. They're driven to help pass on a legacy of wildlife and wild places. It's about keeping alive a great outdoor heritage, and a quality of life that can't be measured on Wall Street," said David Allen, Elk Foundation president and CEO.
On Friday night at Elk Camp, RMEF paid tribute to its top volunteers from 2009 with its annual Chairman's Awards. Recipients included Russell Bumgardner, Baton Rouge, La.; Dan Grice, Grand Haven, Mich.; Jeff Steele, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Bob and Marci Stokke, Bellevue, Wash.
RMEF calculated its total value of volunteer time based on conservative estimates of 10,000 volunteers at 80 hours each times $20.25, the national average value for an hour of volunteer labor.
Field of dreams
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has conserved 5.7 million acres for elk habitat and elk hunting access an amount of land that seems a little hard to fathom.
An easy way to put the staggering total in perspective is to compare it to something with which many people are already familiar: a football field. Land conserved by RMEF is the equivalent of 4,318,181.81 American football fields. An American football field measures 120 yards long (from the backline to of each endzone) and 53.3 yards wide.
A faster Pronghorn?
Tinkering with success can be a scary proposition for any brand (New Coke anyone?). But after many years of distinguished service to elk hunters (as well as other big- and small-game hunters and industrial workers), the Danner Pronghorn hunting boot the company's flagship product is getting a makeover.
The results, according to Danner's Justin Behnke, the sporting boots product line manager for the Portland, Ore., based company, are a lighter, faster, tougher and even more comfortable hunting boot built to withstand seasons of abuse in the elk woods or anywhere else.
So far, based on visitors in the booth, hardcore Danner loyalists at Elk Camp like what they see.
Slated for retail introduction in July 2010 (though some inventory will be available earlier through select retailers to coincide with the mailing of bowhunting catalogs), Behnke said the company spent months field testing the new Pronghorn with hunters, outfitters, factory workers and others to see if they could improve on what many consider to be one of the best all-around hunting boots on the market.
From the visual changes like Tec Tuff technology to protect the heel and toe; larger, branded lace hooks and a lighter, redesigned sole and tread design, Behnke said the biggest difference between the next generation of the Pronghorn and its predecessor have to be felt.
Starting from the ground up with the new Mountain Goat Outsole (literally inspired by the hooves of mountain goats), to a more comfortable foot bed, softer lining, better flexing and support, the new Pronghorn draws from technologies and innovations in the trail running shoe market while incorporating user feedback and high-quality materials.
"We looked for the subtle things, things we could improve upon to not only lighten the boots but also make them more comfortable," Behnke. said "The last thing you want is foot fatigue after a 12-mile hike on the first day of your elk hunt. You've planned and prepared for this special trip and no one wants to be stuck in a wall tent and unwilling to go where the bulls are."
Available in 6- and 8-inch models with two 8-inch models built specifically for women and multiple insulation and color combinations, the new Pronghorn has an MSRP of $149 to $199.