10-year-old knows how to ‘talk turkey’


For the Press and Standard

Ruffin’s own Gavin Bryan has given his hometown something to brag about, as this past February he gobbled up the victory as world’s best turkey caller in his age category, when he won the Poult Division at the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Youth Grand National Turkey Calling Championships held annually in Nashville, Tenn.

“This has been a five year quest for Gavin,” said his dad, Jason, who added that his son had already a turkey hunting grand slam, harvesting the four most common sub-species of wild turkeys.

On top of that, he is halfway to a single season this year, having already harvested two species: Eastern and Osceola. “We’re hoping to be able to get the other two species, the Merriam and Rio Grande during the coming months.”

Gavin Bryan has been calling in competitions since age three, and has participated in Poult division the past five year. Those first years were a learning experience.

“The first two years he didn’t place at all. There were some kids that were way better than him and they beat him. It made him cry and made him upset,” said Jason. “I said, ‘Buddy, now you see what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to practice and we’ve got to work at this if you want to win one day.”

He’s taken his dad’s advice to heart and it has paid off. Using money he earned cutting grass to pay the entry fee, he competed a few weeks before the Grand National, at a competition in Georgia, besting his dad, by placing second overall to his dad’s third place finish.

One of the key elements of a competition is that contestants don’t learn what calls they will need until the day before the event, at which time Gavin begins immediately on practicing.

At that competition, three competitors were called to the stage before his name was called.

“When I went up there on stage I tried to call the best I could, and I felt like I did call the best I could,” he said.

There is a difference between calling in the woods versus calling in competition. The turkeys are more forgiving.

“When you are calling a turkey out in the woods, you can slip a little and they’ll still come,” said Gavin. “They’ll still gobble their heads off.” But making one or two slips in competition can drop a contestant in the ranking.

To compare for one competition that took place in Wyoming when he was seven, the one in which he completed his Grand Slam, the Bryans got in touch with a rancher who had some Merriam’s turkeys.

“We drove 30-odd hours out to Wyoming and Gavin completed his Grand Slam.

Now Gavin might have some competition from within his family in the form of 6-year-old sister, Kinlee; she also participated in Nashville, but did not place.

“She got to see her brother win, and it kind of upset her that she didn’t win,” said Jason. “I told her the same thing I told Gavin five years ago. If you want to win, I’ll try my best to get you there.”