Duck-calling champs in Bay

By Sandra Conchie -
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Contestants taking part in the Bay of Plenty round of the national duck-calling contest pitted their duck impersonation skills against each other over the weekend - and later in the year, the country's best will be in town battling to take home the national title.

Six regional rounds of the NZ Duck-Calling Championship are under way with contests in Auckland, Waikato, Nelson, the Coromandel, Christchurch and Tauranga.

The Bay of Plenty regional final was held at Loaded NZ in Omanawa on Saturday, with Kawerau man John Frahm coming out the winner after competing against about five others.

Winners from each regional contest will be able to compete at the national final held at Loaded NZ on July 9.

Competition organiser Adam Rayner said this was the first time the national championship would be held outside of the South Island and it was a coup for Tauranga to hold the event.

Mr Rayner said he expected 20 to 30 people to compete in the national final, but many others were set to attend the event - including a busload of water-fowling enthusiasts from the South Island.

"Water fowling in New Zealand is more popular than rugby. In America, duck-calling is hugely popular and some people even make their living from the sport," he said. "Duck-calling is like playing any wind instrument, some people are okay at it and others become masters at it."

Paul Thomas from Whakatane-based Cupped Wing Calls, who is this year's chief judge, said these competitions were hugely competitive.

"Particularly when up for grabs is a free trip to America for the overall winner to compete in the World Duck-Calling Champs, which is held during the Maryland Water Fowl Festival in November."

Mr Thomas said the competitors were given one minute to sound out a series of duck calls - the hail, come back, feed chuckle, lonesome hen [calling out for a mate] and the routine call. The latter brought all the separate calls together in a sequence of calls.

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