When 5-year-old Kirstin Hays asked her parents to let her try a few turkey calls before the 2000 season, they were afraid she’d choke on the diaphragm. That was before the girl called in a flock of 30 birds in one afternoon.
Three years, 45 competitions, 25 trophies, and five talk-show offers later, Hays, now 8, of Atlantic, Pennsylvania, is a turkey-calling champ. She took the Ohio Women’s State Championship for 2002 and 2003 and is this year’s Missouri Youth Champion and Indiana Junior Champion. In August, she accepted (via her parents) a contract from Knight & Hale calls, making her the youngest pro staff member in the history of hunting in America.
“People flip out when they hear her–she’s got a freak talent,” says her father, Shawn Hays. “She makes noises that some 30-year-old guys can’t.” In a contest with 18 men last spring, she placed second. Although the competition circuit has treated her well, Hays, who practices her calling daily, prefers the field.
“When you see all those birds coming to you through the trees, it’s really cool,” she says.
Despite the flurry of trophies and interviews, the highlight of Hays’ calling career came last spring when she took her first turkey on a hunting trip with her dad. “I called the tom in myself. Now he’s at the taxidermist. We’re going to put him in the living room.”