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A Turkey Calling Dream Come True

What Helped Mossy Oak Pro Jesse Martin Win the Open Division of the 2017 Grand National Calling Championship


Editor’s Note: 34-year-old Jesse Martin of Mount Sterling, Ky., has been a Mossy Oak Pro for 4 years and names Bottomland and the new NWTF Obsession patterns as his favorites. He's also the turkey hunter pictured in the Mossy Oak ads for their new Obsession camo pattern, which features the National Wild Turkey Federation logo. In the 2017 NWTF’s Open Division of the Grand National Calling Championship (GNCC), Martin was one of 41 callers competing in that division. The contest format changed this year, and Martin thought he had a good chance of possibly winning this - one of the most prestigious turkey calling championships in the nation. 

In the 2017 Grand Nationals, instead of having each contestant give the same old calls that had been required every year in the past, the contest was about, “How will you call turkeys in a spring scenario, and how will you call turkeys in a fall scenario?” The spring scenario was, “You're a hunter in the spring. A hen was waking up on the roost. Then she flew down into a food plot and started searching for company (trying to call in the gobbler).” One of the advantages to this type of contest was that I felt like I could become a real turkey and call like a hen would call, if she was in this type of situation. With this kind of calling, I knew I could use my many years of turkey hunting and listening to turkeys to paint a picture in the minds of the judges of what that hen would sound like. I felt like I could actually be a turkey. 

Martin_day1I've been calling in the Grand Nationals since 2006. I've placed second, twice; I've finished fifth and fourth; I've won two head-to-head Grand National Championships; I've placed in seven, team championships at the Grand Nationals, and I've won two team challenge championships at the World Turkey Calling Contest. I love every aspect of turkey calling contests. I feel very fortunate to be able to participate in the sport that I love. In each contest, I try to make the judges forget that I'm a turkey caller. Instead when I'm competing, I want them to be able to see a wild turkey making the calls I'm giving. 

I became interested in turkey calling when my dad, Leslie Martin, gave me a mouth diaphragm turkey call while I was sitting on the back porch as a little-bitty kid. Dad said, “Don’t get out of that chair until you can make a sound come out of that turkey call.” I sat in that chair for what felt like forever until I could finally make a sound (not a very good sound), but some kind of sound, with that diaphragm call. 

My aunt and uncle raised some turkeys in their backyard. So, I went over to their house and started listening to those turkeys yelping, clucking and purring. I fell in love with the sounds those turkeys made, and I began practicing with the diaphragm call that my daddy gave me. I entered my first turkey calling contest when I was 11 years old, and I've been calling turkeys and competing in contests ever since. I've sort of developed an obsession for trying to sound like a turkey. 

The NWTF Open Grand National Championship is the very top division of turkey calling. Although a group of turkey callers go to most of the major turkey calling tournaments, the Grand Nationals make up of a very unique and small fraternity. For me, competing in the Grand National is the highest achievement that I ever can hope to achieve, when you consider that only 19 people have held the Grand National title. Once you win the Grand National, your name is engraved on a plaque with the names of the 19 other champions that are and have been the greatest callers in our nation, and that plaque is on display at the NWTF museum in Edgefield, South Carolina, for everyone in the world to see. So, that makes winning a pretty big deal. When a person’s name is added to that list, he's in very rare air. 

To learn more about turkey hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ Kindle and print book, “Mossy Oak Pros Talk Turkey Tactics,” at and You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone. For a free copy of John E. Phillips’ “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” go to to download.

How One Hen Enabled Jesse Martin to Win the Grand National Open Division Turkey Calling Championship

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