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Lehi Man Wins State Goose Calling Contest



Bob O’Connor | Guest Writer

On Saturday, February 17, Ryan Barnes from Lehi, Utah, competed in the annual Utah State Goose Calling contest at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo. Barnes, 27, has been competing in this contest for six years, trying to win the title of State Champion. This year, fortune favored him. 

“It was a surreal feeling,” Barnes said, “winning that contest is something I’ve been working towards for years. To someone unfamiliar with the sport, a goose-calling contest probably sounds like something pretty trivial. But it takes years of practice to get to the point where you can produce the sounds the judges want to hear and structure a routine that will beat the other competitors.”

“Learning to blow a goose or duck call is like blowing a woodwind instrument. It operates virtually the same way. It has a mylar reed, a wedge, a sound trough, and the same overall theory. Instead of learning to blow musical notes, you learn to mimic the sounds of ducks and geese,” added Barnes. 

A goose-calling contest includes a group of callers who draw numbers to determine the order in which they will step out on stage to compete. Once on stage, they have 90 seconds to share their talents on a goose call. The contest is split into three rounds. Whoever has the highest combined score of all three rounds wins the competition. 

This year, Ryan secured a definitive win over the other callers. He walked out with over $2,500 in prizes and added his name to a prestigious list of past winners. Barnes says that winning the state title was one of his crowning achievements.

The competition came from all over the state and the country, including Virginia, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. While on stage, Barnes belted out a myriad of honks and clucks in a string that sounded like a giant flock of geese was actually landing in the room. It seemed like a magic trick that so much sound and volume could be produced by one person with a simple piece of acrylic plastic. 

After the final round, the emcee asked the contestants to go to the stage. Finalists were announced from third place to champion.


“When [the emcee] got ready to announce second place, all I could think was, ‘Please don’t say my name. Please don’t say my name.’ I knew if I didn’t get announced for second place, whichwould mean I was the new State Champ,” said Barnes.

After the second-place winner was announced, friends and family cheered as Barned was declared the 2024 Utah State Goose Calling Champion. Hugs and high-fives were shared on stage. Barnes smiled ear to ear as he and some of his friends helped carry his prizes to the table where his wife, Alexis, was seated. They shared a hug and a kiss, and immediately, he was swarmed with people who wanted a photo with the new State Champion. 

Congratulatory texts started piling in. Barnes said he had to silence his phone due to all the text notifications and phone calls. “What makes it the most special is all the love and support I received. Once the news broke that I had won, people from all over the country called me and texted me. It was truly humbling. I can’t thank everyone enough for their kindness. I think my mom and dad were more excited than I was, and that made winning even more special.” 

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