Forest City youth big on turkey calls
BY JOSH McAULIFFE, Times-Shamrock Writer
Hunter Wallis has had no trouble living up to his name. Just 14 years old, theNewtonLakeresident already is a highly accomplished sportsman.
He hunts deer, waterfowl and wild turkey. In regard to the latter, he’s bagged all four subspecies – Osceola inFlorida,Rio GrandeinTexas, Merriam inWyomingand Eastern right here inNortheast Pennsylvania.
His bow skills are formidable, no doubt. But there’s another reason he’s so good – he’s got a call like no other.
Earlier this year, Hunter, an eighth-grader atForestCityRegionalHigh School, won the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Junior Grand National Turkey Calling Championship inNashville, and the Junior U.S. Open Turkey Calling Championship inHarrisburg.
With any luck, Hunter said, his calling skills will lead to an eventual career in the hunting industry.
“A lot of people in the industry started out as callers,” Hunter said. Indeed, that list includes hunting superstar Michael Waddell and one of Hunter’s mentors, Montdale native Nate Hosie, one of the stars of “HeadHunters TV” on the Outdoor Channel.
Besides prize money – he earned $1,500 at theNashvilleevent – Hunter’s talents have gotten him other cool perks, including a sponsorship with Zink Calls, a manufacturer of custom-made goose, duck and turkey calls.
“They’ve been really good to him,” said Hunter’s dad, Jeff Wallis.
Hunter’s the only nonadult member of the Z-Unit, Zink’s elite pro staff division, which allows him to travel the country entering contests and has given him the opportunity to appear on TV and in hunting DVDs. Just recently, he participated in a filmed goose hunt inCanada.
Right now, Hunter is working with Zink on developing his own Signature Series turkey mouth call. During the summer, he spent several days at the company’s Port Clinton, Ohio, office designing the call, which will have a distinctive bat wing cut, Hunter’s favorite.
The call is expected to hit the market in February, and Hunter will receive royalties of 30 cents per every $12 call sold.
“For a 14-year-old kid, he’s light years beyond where most kids are at. Most kids are just being introduced to turkey calling at that age. He’s got so many years under his belt,” said Josh Grossenbacher, Zink’s turkey products manager and another mentor to Hunter.
“I’ve hunted with a lot of guys, and that kid is a better caller and better woodsman than 95 percent of guys I’ve hunted with,” Grossenbacher continued. “He’s pretty amazing.”
“I’m really excited about it,” Hunter said of the call and all the other exciting things going on in his life. “I really want to make a name for myself.”
Which leads us back to the name.
Actually, his parents insist, it had nothing to do with hunting. His mom, Nancy Wallis, a nurse, was working in a hospital’s neo-natal unit years ago when she first heard the name.
She loved it, and when she and Wallis had their first and only child, they chose it for him.
“So it was meant to be, I guess,” Wallis said with a chuckle.