Don’t be surprised to see Kelsi Mashburn compete for the 2017 men’s World’s Duck Calling Championship at the Wings Over The Prairie festival in Stuttgart.
She will be all of 18 by then.
Last November, Mashburn, 16, won the women’s world championship at the festival held in her hometown. That trophy took its place beside the three junior women’s world championship trophies she already had won. The competition’s rules will allow her to win the women’s title only twice more.
She already knows what her next goal is.
“I can win the women’s two more years, and then after that I will have to qualify for a regional of some type to make it to the men’s world,” she said.
Can she compete with the men at such a young age?
“They have an advantage in some way because the older you get, the bigger your lungs get and you have a bigger lung capacity,” Mashburn said. “You have more air, so you can push your call harder and make it sound cleaner. … I have grown up calling around guys, so that is basically the thing that sets me apart. It hasn’t stopped me from going and trying.”
Mashburn’s path to duck-calling fame started a dozen years ago. Her stepfather, Stephen Saranie, introduced her to the late Butch Richenback, founder of Rich-N-Tone Calls and a legend in the field.
“My stepdad started calling with Butch when he was younger than I am now,” Mashburn said. “He took me to Butch one day because I was interested in it. Butch made me a call. I got in in 2006 on Christmas. Ever since then, I have just called non-stop.”
The teenager said her routine has evolved over the years as she has grown.
“Every year I would go and practice with Butch,” she said. “Normally, my lungs would get stronger. I would change a few things about it, but I have stayed with the same routine.”
In her last victory, Mashburn was confident about her performance, especially the triple hail portion.
“I guess it just kind of clicked,” she said. “I did everything the same. I thought that I did really good that day. I had a feeling that I did good, but I didn’t know for sure how it was going to turn out.”
Mashburn’s success hasn’t necessarily translated to more females entering duck-calling contests in the area. She said that many young girls get started calling but by the time they hit their teens, interest wanes.
“I have been trying to recruit more girls. The junior division has been falling off some. There were only four girls in competition last year,” she said. “I am trying to get more girls to compete.”
When she’s not competing, Mashburn is usually in a duck blind.
“I normally try to go hunting just about every day during duck season, and I do carry a call if they want me to,” she said.