For several years, Carbondale resident Paul Platz has been considered one of the top turkey call makers in the United States. This spring that description became even more relevant when he captured the National Wild Turkey Federation’s coveted D.D. Adams Award at the organization’s 42nd annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

The award, named after a pioneer in the call-making world, recognizes the best sounding friction call and striker combination in the United States. In addition to this top prize, Platz also placed first in the Glass and Striker Division, first and second in the Double Sided Pot Call Division, and claimed a third and fourth in the aluminum division.

More than 56,000 people attended the four-day event at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in late February, as 1,180 custom calls (almost 300 pot calls) were entered into competition. The strong showing by Platz served as a culmination of years perfecting his skills.

“I’ve tried to win this award for a long time, and previously came really close” he said. “Getting it this year is satisfying, as our first child is almost two years old and it proved to be a challenge to simply find the time to do this. I probably built more than 50 before the competition.”

Although he has been a hunter for many years, Platz admits his early efforts in making calls were humbling.

“The first call I made in the spring of 2011 sounded like junk,” he says with a laugh. “I probably built more than 100 calls before I started being happy with the way they were sounding. Only then did I even consider thinking about national competition.”

At his first convention in 2013, however, it was apparent Platz was ready for that stage and on the right track. He brought home several awards en route to being named the NWTF’s “Rookie Call Maker of the Year,” inspiring the competitive 2008 SIU graduate to get better and better with each call. This year’s awards show he accomplished that goal and more. In fact, since Platz has been competing at nationals, he has accumulated 22 medals – currently the second most of any pot call maker in the history of the event.

Although his calls continue to be in great demand across the country (currently there is a three-year waiting list to purchase one), and he will continue to be a turkey hunter, Platz plans to take a step back from national competition. With a full-time job at the Illinois Department of Transportation, and helping his wife, Kelcie, raise their son, Kai, he says it’s a great time to simply go out on top.

He does point to one thing, however, that might make him consider a return to that arena.

“The NWTF has a youth division where kids make calls and compete against one another,” Platz says. “Perhaps one of these days, if Kai shows any interest in that sort of thing, you might see me involved again to help him. That would be a lot of fun.”

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