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Eketahuna lad quacks with the best

Eketahuna duck caller Ben Schnell trained up to two hours daily before gaining a third place in the world championships. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

ELI HILL
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A Tararua College student quacked his way to third in the World Waterfowl Calling Championships in Maryland, in the United States, on Saturday.

The 15-year-old competed against duck callers from across the US and Canada in the U17 Junior Duck category.

Ben Schnell had three, 60-second attempts at reproducing a duck call in front of an audience he estimated to be from 200 to 300.

He said that waiting for his turn to compete had been nerve-wracking.

“There was fierce competition, but the atmosphere was awesome though – they were a great bunch of guys.”

Throughout the event Schnell used a New Zealand-made duck call, the first time one has been used in the competition’s history.

Preparation for the trip had Schnell practising two to three hours a day for months and emailing sound files to experienced callers to help him achieve the right sounds.

No stranger to competitive duck calling, Schnell won the New Zealand Junior section aged 12, and this year landed third in the New Zealand Open.

He also won the 2018 Manawatu, Taupo and Napier opens.

While he’s keen to bring back the world title in future, Schnell said he wants to focus on his NCEA exams over the next few years before attempting a return.

“I’ll still be calling through the next duck hunting season, and I’d really like to win the New Zealand Open.

“I’ve made a lot of great mates through it and I’m keen to keep it up.”

Schnell was joined at the world championships by fellow New Zealanders Hunter Morrow and Holly Irvine.

Three-time New Zealand champion Morrow was second in the Live Duck category, third in Team Duck and fifth in Live Goose. Irvine took fourth place in the Junior Duck event.

New Zealand Duck Calling Championships organiser Adam Rayner said the New Zealand team’s performance had impressed many at the event, including renowned American duck call maker Rusty Heron.

“The results achieved by the three reflects the fact that New Zealand duck callers can hold their own with the world’s best.”

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