AUGUSTA  — The moose-calling contest Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center only drew four contestants, but the qualifying competition showed the judges that the first world invitational championship event in June has the potential to be wicked good.

“This is the first one where people brought props. They brought in trees and paddles,” said Don Kleiner, a judge and executive director of the Maine Professional Guides Association.

The World Invitational Moose Calling Championship will be held in Oquossoc on June 23 in conjunction with the Maine moose lottery and the three-day moose festival being held in the Rangeley region by the Rangeley Region Guides and Sportsmen’s Association.

“We’ve wanted to do this for a long time. When Rangeley got the moose lottery, we figured there was no better time,” said Kirby Holcombe of the Rangeley guides association.

The moose-calling contest Saturday at the Maine Sportsman’s Show, like the three other qualifiers held before it at other venues, drew few guides. And having never held a moose-calling championship before, the guides running it were not certain what to look for, Kleiner said – but they liked what they found Saturday.

Contestants were judged on their ability to simulate a cow call and a bull call, and perform in a way that would draw in a moose.

The props used, in addition to entertaining the audience of about 150, won points for the callers.

“This was the best one for showmanship. One guy brought a paddle and put it on his head to look like a bull. Yes, it’s done (in the wild). Yes, I know about it. But it was fun to see,” Kleiner said.

But then he added quickly: “It’s important to say to people when you speak about this – be careful if you try this.”

Brett Patten of St. Albans won for his large and impressive display of trees that he hauled onto the civic center stage and shook to simulate a real moose-calling episode.

Greg Drummond had never competed in a moose-calling contest before, but brought a paddle, as he would when calling in a moose. He came in last, but with only four contestants, all advanced to the final.

The owner of Claybrook Lodge in Highland Plantation has acted as a guide for moose watchers for 10 years, with much success. However, on Saturday, Drummond took note of how to improve his on-stage calling performance — for the benefit of the two-legged audience.

“Next time, I’ll tell a story,” Drummond said.

It’s worth figuring out.

At the championship in June, the best caller will win $1,000. And right now only 13 moose callers have qualified. Organizers hope more try out.

“The last qualifier is June 2. And people can also send in DVDs. We’ve opened the door for that,” said Registered Maine Guide Roger Lambert, the contest’s director.

Kleiner said regardless how the first Maine moose championship plays out, it will continue.

“We’re thinking if the Rangeley guides don’t continue it, we’ll take it over next year,” Kleiner said. “It’s fun, and it’s a signature Maine event.”

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

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