Dogs and duck calling festival winners in Georgetown

If any ducks were flying near East Bay Park in Georgetown on Saturday, they were probably very confused.

A youth duck calling clinic was held Saturday morning as part of the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival.

The clinic taught children the different calls used to lure ducks, from the simple "quack" to the quick "tut-tut-tut" of a feeding call.

Brad Jones, one of the instructors at the clinic, said the idea was to get kids involved and interested.

"You may be a great caller or it may be your first time blowing," he said. "The point is to learn a bit and have fun."

The event drew some first timers but also some more experienced callers.

Melissa Grooms of Pawleys Island said her family came to the clinic because her son,McKinley, has gotten very interested in duck calling lately.

She said McKinley went duck hunting in Arkansas for a week with his father and other family members in late December.

"He had been hunting before that but that was the first real experience with duck hunting," she said. And now, she said, "he loves it."

McKinley and Tyler Moore of Florence were the two children at the clinic to express interest in entering the S.C. State Duck Calling Contest today.

McKinley and Tyler got direction from Mark Prudhomme, an expert in hunting calls for birds who has won several championships with his calls.

But those were only two of the scores of children at the clinic. Those with less experience or no interest in contest calling were given direction by Jones.

"They're calling judges," Jones said to the group of children sitting on the bleachers in front of him. "We're calling ducks."

Beth Meares said her son Jonathan, 7, and friend Wayde Kelly, 7, were on their way to the Dixie Dock Dogs diving competition when they decided to stop and learn about duck calls.

"They saw this and wanted to try it," she said.

The dock dog diving competition was the other new addition to the festival this year, in addition to the youth calling clinic.

And it seemed to be a huge success.

The stands around the pool at East Bay Park were full and it was close to standing room in the space around the stands.

The crowd cheered for the dogs who jumped well and for the dogs who stopped at the end of the dock, unwilling to jump into the cold water after their toy. While some of the dogs may have been reluctant, several children were happy to be splashed and stood by the side of the pool where they were most likely to get wet.

Tomorrow will be the final day for both of the new events. The final rounds of the dock dogs competition will take place from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and the S.C. State Duck Calling Contest will begin at noon. Admission to the festival is $10 for ages 13 and older.