By Jason Martin
STUTTGART, Arkansas (November 26) — Huntingdon High School and Bethel University alumnus Seth Fields won the World Duck Calling Competition Saturday afternoon. The 87th Annual World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest takes place during the Thanksgiving Holiday as part of the Wings Over the Prairie Festival in Stuttgart, Arkansas. The event is the largest outdoor expo in the Mid-South and celebrates the kickoff of duck season.
The event is considered to be similar to winning the Super Bowl or World Series of Duck Calling. Seth joins the legacy of callers that includes former Huntingdon native Mike McLemore who won back-to-back championships in 1973 and 1974.
Fifty-two qualified competitors went head to head for this year’s title. Seth’s younger brother Blane Fields also competed in the men’s world division for the first time this year and was able to take home eighth runner-up, which is the first time in the contest’s history that brothers were both in the top 10 in the world.
The large world trophy was brought back to West Tennessee along with a $10,000 check, a War Eagle boat and trailer along with several other prizes. Seth was surrounded by family members, his mother and father, Jason and Lisa, his wife and son, Julie and Jed, with sister, Morgan, and brother-in-law, Joseph Morrissett.
Seth said of the competition and the championship win, “Despite being tired there was little to no sleep last night. A major goal of mine was checked off the list. I’ve never been so nervous, yet happy at the same time during a contest. Looking out and seeing my whole family was pretty awesome. Glancing out and seeing Julie Fields and Jed under that tent was a real-time reminder of how God had blessed me, regardless, and I had already won a better prize than Stuttgart was offering.
“I’ve never been more proud as a big brother either than hearing my brother Blane Fields blow in all 4 rounds he competed in, and walked away with a top 10 in his first year qualifying. He put in loads of work this year and it showed. The full circle all played in my head as I heard him nail his 3rd round routine.
“So thankful for the overwhelming support and love from all my family and friends. I appreciate all the kind messages and heartfelt congratulations! Thanks go out to all of the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce for the amazing contest that so many of us love! I’m very honored to be able to stand on that stage and so very happy to be the 2022 World Champion Duck Caller.”
The first National Duck Calling Contest was held on Main Street in Stuttgart, Arkansas, on November 24, 1936, in connection with the annual Arkansas Rice Carnival. It was sponsored by American Legion Post No. 48.
The first contest was a far cry from the present-day event, but it was the beginning of the now worldwide contest, which attracts thousands of sportsmen annually from all over the United States.
The contest was originated by Thad McCollum of Stuttgart. Dr. H.V. Glenn sold the idea of sponsoring the contest to the American Legion. The American Legion then appointed a Duck Calling Committee of three men: Dr. Glenn, chairman; Mr. McCollum and Arthur Shoemaker, to stage the event. Later, Verne Tindall of Stuttgart replaced Mr. Shoemaker as a committee member, and the contest was held.
The total list of entries for the first duck-calling contest was 17. Financial arrangements were such that not a large prize was offered. The winner was Thomas E. Walsh of Greenville, Miss. He won the contest without the use of a duck call.
Mr. Walsh, who raised ducks as a hobby at his home in Mississippi, produced the sounds in his throat. He walked off with a hunting coat purchased by the American Legion from John Oberly Clothing Store.
The first prize in 1947 was $1,000 cash. Today’s winner receives a prize package worth more than $15,000.
The only other contestant to win first prize without the use of a duck call was Herman Caillouet of Greenville, Miss., who won the event in 1942. The only woman to ever win the contest was Pat Peacock of Stuttgart, Ark., in 1955 and 1956.
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