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And the Winner Is...

Smith_image3_1I know it's late in the evening, but as promised, here are the winners of the inaugural Strut Zone "Give Us The Bird" photo contest. We had dozens of entries and some tough competition between many of the pics when it came to judging the winners.

Thankfully I had an assortment of Outdoor Life staffers including editors, graphic artists, our photo director and even an intern assist me in selecting the top images. We each voted for our top five then tallied up the votes and rankings for each. I'll spare you the drama (and the possible confusion given the blog's posting format) of doing a reverse announcement of the lowest to the highest finisher, so without further adieu, our grand prize winner is:

1st Place

Young James Smith of North Carolina (first picture), whose dad, James, submitted the fantastic image of the boy celebrating his first turkey. The look on James face says it all. Great photo Dad and congrats to James. In addition to a call package made up of calls by Hunter's Specialties, Knight & Hale, Quaker Boy, Primos, Woodhaven Custom Calls and Woods Wise, you will also receive a Pretty Boy Decoy from Carry-Lite as well. 

2nd Place


Oklahoma turkey hunter, dedicated wife and mom and NWTF chapter president Christy Fite earned a well-deserved second place finish in the contest for this pic of her Rio that she took early in the season.

Fite killed the Rio during a hunt being filmed by a crew from the NWTF shooting the adventure for one of their programs on the Outdoor Channel. Fite not only chases gobblers in the spring, but is also an avid deer hunter, who has helped introduce to the sport to a number of women and children through events conducted by her chapter.

Christy will receive a complete call package to practice with and use next spring.

3rd Place


Matthew Sell, a student at Frostburg State University in Maryland, took this photo of father/son hunt team Eric and Trey Claar during a hunt in nearby Pennsylvania.

The image captures everything that's great about sharing the woods with a your kids and bringing them up with an appreciation for the outdoors. It is an image of represented in hunts shared by fathers and sons, but as our next winner shows, isn't exclusive to boys. Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Congrats, Matthew. Your prize pack is on its way.

4th Place

Larsen_image_1There's just something about a young hunter that appeals to everyone and this photo of 14-year-old Nicole Larsen sent in by her father Ron is no exception. While photos shot in driveways or in the back of a truck don't usually come off as the most aesthetically pleasing, Nicole's proud look and that awesomely thick rope strategically placed hanging over the bed caught everyone's eye who voted. Nice shot, Dad!

What's maybe even cooler is that the young hunter passed up on six jakes before tagging this California longbeard. Hope you enjoy the calls Nicole. You might want to kick one or two to your Pop for putting your name in the hat.

5th Place


Matthew Jones of Kentucky has been one of the Strut Zone's earliest followers, even offering detailed scouting reports for his fellow Blue Grass State hunters prior to this past spring season. From all accounts of those who know young Jones, he's one heck of a hunter.

His past season was well-documented with photos as he helped call birds in for a variety of friends and relatives. One of those shots (pictured here) earned the hunter fifth place in our Give Us The Bird contest. The judges really felt it captured the glory of what being in the spring woods is all about. Congrats, Matthew. Now if I can just find your e-mail address!

Just joking. Stuff's on the way.

In fact, everybody's prizes will be shipped out as soon as I can confirm your addresses. Our intern has been looking for more to do. Guess it's time for her to become acquainted with the mail room!

Thanks again to everyone who sent in photos and particularly to the contest's generous sponsors. Please thank them with your support. They are again:

Woods Wise

Woodhaven Custom Calls


Quaker Boy

Knight & Hale

Hunter's Specialties

Carry-Lite Decoys



All i can say is Thank you to everyone! I can't wait for the next turkey season to come so i can try out all these new calls.

Greg Russell

Congratulations to all the winners, you wound up with some neat gear.

All of us are winners though folks, since we had a ball in the turkey woods this spring past, then had the fun of telling a bit of our stories here.

Maybe I`ll soo some of you in the deer woods this fall.

Best of luck, and a safe season to all.

Greg Russell

Doug-You`ve got to get an edit button for these posts. I meant to write, maybe I`ll SEE some of you in the deer woods this fall.

Darris Smith

This whole site is great, you get to share stories and pictures, see what great birds others are getting. James has been sky high all season anyway but Doug has helped create a monster now. Dad keeps reminding him "sharing is caring". He can only hold one call at time right?

Doug Wendling

Congrats to all, especially the winners! Ya just can't have too many calls.
We'll be back next year, for sure.
In the meantime, check out some of our wild game recipes: www.Men-Can-Cook.com


Thanks for the comments guys. I'm already brewing up my next contest for the sight that I hope to launch in the early fall.

Meanwhile Doug, I plan to check out your cooking site. Can always use a few new recipes!


I just wanted to let you know that i got all my calls yesterday and they are all great. I can't wait for spring to come back around so that i can use them. Thank You so much!


Your certainly welcome Christy. Be sure to keep everyone here up on your hunting success next spring. And continued good luck with your NWTF Chapter. Maybe I can make it out to one of your events one of these days.

David & Marjie Calhoun Sr.

We just wanted to send our Congrats to the winner. I would have voted for James Smith as the Number one picture also, the look on that young hunter's face say's it all. Also a Heart felt Thank You to James Dad James for taking the time to share the Great Outdoors that we all love so much.

David and Marjie Calhoun Sr.

Darris Smith

James and I liked all the pictures. He's happy to be included with the adults. He couldn't be happier with the prizes, I thought he was going to sleep with Pretty Boy. I don't know anybody who loves outdoors more than James. We saw a hen this week that only had three poults with her, I had heard we had a bad hatch in NC this year. We'll need all the help we can get to get birds next year. He's alrady practicing his calls!

Wes Murphy

Hey Doug,

Don't know if you'll remember me or not, I wrote a profile about Tom Kelly for you when you were at Turkey Call a few years ago. I have started a new job so I have been pretty busy and it's taken me to long to get to this, but I want to thank you for putting my son, wesley's photo in the turkey photo contest. He was thrilled to see himself on the web. Even though he didn't win, it was great to show all our family and friends his photo in Outdoor Life.

Thank you

Wes Murphy