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Champion of champions

11/24/2010

STUTTGART, Ark. — One tiny squawk or other misstep and your chance is over for another five years.

That's the pressure facing competitors in the Champion of Champions Duck Calling Contest, which culminates the day of activities at the Wings Over The Prairie Festival on Saturday.

Only previous winners of the World's Championship Duck Calling Contest are eligible, and the past champions returning to compete has Festival Chairman Bill Free excited.

"This is probably the best Champion of Champions we've had in a long time," said Free, adding that he wouldn't bet against three-time World's champion John Stephens. "John is obviously the favorite and we'll see if he can hold it."

Stephens, 37, who won the last of his titles in 2005, said he hopes not to be competing again in 2015.

"I would like to get it done this year," he said. "If you don't win this year, you won't get another chance in five years. It kinda puts the pressure on you."

PHOTO GALLERY

Call in the family

Using open competitions to get back in the swing of things and hone his contest calling, the president of RNT calls said the nerves might not hit until the 2010 World's is over and he gets back up on the Main Street stage, but they will hit.

"We were talking about that the other day; I don't think you ever get away from getting nervous," Stephens said. "I think it's you just have a little bit of nerves so you don't mess up. It only takes one little thing to mess up."

The judges, all of whom are past Champion of Champions, are sure to score accordingly. Calling legends Mike McLemore, David Starks, Johnny "Boo" Mahfouz, Buck Gardner and Trey Crawford will be behind the curtain awarding points.

McLemore and Crawford are among the Champions who have won three World's titles, after which competitors are retired from that competition. A Champion of Champions victory eliminates the caller from ever competing again in the World's or Champions events, a fate Stephens is pursuing.

Stephens, who won the Jr. World's in 1985, first won the World's in 1995 and became a fixture for the next decade. He won again in 1998 and was second from 2000 to 2004 before being retired after his third title in 2005.

"Since I first won the worlds, I finished in the top five," he said. "I don't think anybody's ever done that."

"Now he's going for the Champion of Champions to finish out the trifecta, so to speak," Free said. "He wins, and he's done."

Just like he wants.


ESPNOutdoors, in affiliation with CallingDucks.com, will provide a live streaming webcast of the World's and the Champion of Champions competition beginning at approximately 2 p.m., Saturday Nov. 27.

World's Championship Duck Calling Contest



Schedule of events
Friday
11 a.m. - Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest

1 p.m. - Junior Women's World's Championship Duck Calling Contest

2 p.m. - Intermediate World's Championship Duck Calling Contest

3:30 p.m. - Last Chance Regional Duck Calling Contest

Saturday
9 a.m. - Junior World's Championship Duck Calling Contest

10 a.m.- Senior World's Championship Duck Calling Contest

11 a.m. - Women's World's Chamionship Duck Calling Contest

2 p.m. - 75th annual WORLD'S CHAMPIONSHIP DUCK CALLING CONTEST
Sponored by Mack's Prairie Wings, Winchester Ammunition, Lennox Industries and SONIC Drive-In
Main Street Stage

2010 Champion of Champions Duck Calling Contest
Past World Champions compete to determine the "Best of the Best"
Contest starts immediately following the World's Contest

Have questions or comments for the author? Email him at msuchan@groupcse.com.