NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nobody could have predicted how successful the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Grand National Calling Championships would become when they first were held in 1977. However, the competition has grown to be one of the most important and storied calling competitions in the country.
To commemorate the long line of individuals who made their mark on the sport of competitive turkey calling and the championships itself, the NWTF created the GNCC Hall of Fame and announced its inaugural class.
Terry Rohm and Gene Smith were on hand for the induction ceremony, held during the 43rd NWTF Convention and Sport Show — Mossy Oak is the Official Convention Sponsor. Other inductees included Rob Keck, who sent in a video message as he was attending the Western Sports Expo, and Ben Rogers Lee and M.L. Lynch for posthumous inductions. Members of their families were in attendance.
Keck – Founder
NWTF founder Tom Rodgers asked Keck to develop a calling competition for the fledgling conservation organization, and Keck’s vision and attention to detail quickly made the GNCC one of the best in the country. Keck used only the most qualified judges and offered prizes never before seen in the history of competitive turkey calling.
Lee – Ambassador
Lee, a call maker from Coffeeville, Alabama, became an ambassador for both competitive turkey calling and turkey hunting. Lee judged several GNCC and introduced untold numbers to turkey calling. To this day, he is still one of the most admired and beloved turkey callers.
Rohm – Caller
Rohm, Pennsylvania native, won the first two GNCC and then went on to a career in the outdoor industry. Rohm comes from one of turkey callings’ most famous families — Dale Rohm, his father, is a well-known call maker and Robbie, his brother, also is a former Grand National Champion. Rohm now lives in Rutledge, Georgia.
Lynch – Call maker
Call maker, author and one of the most influential call makers of all time, Lynch forged a legacy in the turkey hunting and callmaking worlds. His Foolproof Box call was one of the earliest sold in mass numbers, enabling countless turkey hunters to purchase their first calls.
Smith – Media
Without Smith’s photographs and written words, the GNCC’s early years would be little more than a footnote. As the first editor of Turkey Call magazine, Smith spread the word about the competition through the pages of the magazine. His stories and images captured the excitement of the event and helped build and grow the sport of competitive turkey calling.
“The impact of the Grand National Calling Championships on the turkey hunting world is immeasurable,” NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said. “These calling competition pioneers, turkey call makers, prior champions and ambassadors to the sport of competitive calling have forged their legacy, and we proudly welcome them in to the newly established Grand National Calling Championships Hall of Fame.”
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. The NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to raise $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit NWTF.org