There is no question that the calling of wild game is an art form. Anyone can try it, but not everyone can do it well. And some people simply develop a serious talent for it that puts them leaps and bounds past anyone else. Case in point is 12-year-old Ella Lees of Oregon. Back in July, she not only competed in, but won the title of Women's World Champion Elk Caller in the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's annual contest in Utah. She managed to accomplish this only one year after finishing as runner-up in the same division in 2021. With a year of experience in the competition under her belt, she managed to beat four prior world champions on her way to claiming the title and $2,500 in prize money.
It's easy to see why Lee's skills impressed the seven judges once you hear her in action. The video below shows Lee showcasing a series of calls alongside some real calls from wild elk. We must admit, played side by side, it's genuinely hard to tell the two apart!
According to Here in Oregon, Lees began training with her uncle Mike Kaup when she was only nine years old. Kaup said Lees has a natural ability to listen and repeat sounds. She often practices calling to a herd that lives near her home. She also studies calling videos online to continually improve her technique.
It's safe to say practice pays off! The RMEF does hold a junior division of this competition every year, of which it's obvious she would have won. However, Lees decided to compete with the adults because she wanted a better challenge. Every time she called, Kaup said the audience in attendance was in shock.
"Everybody was like 'Did that seriously just come out of that little girl,'" he told the news organization. "She just has such a powerful bugle that it's hard for people to compete with her."
After the competition, the straight-A student was offered several sponsorship opportunities with game call companies. The family turned them down for now because they want to make sure calling stays fun for Lees. She also has plenty of other irons in the fire right now, as she competes in soccer, basketball, track, and wrestling. However, it's safe to say all eyes will be on her as a favorite at next year's competition.
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