Lifelong turkey hunter Mark McPhail of Collinsville has always been passionate about his turkey hunting and call collecting.There are about 1,590 handmade turkey calls in his collection, and at retirement a few years ago he decided to start making his own calls.

That decision three years ago has culminated in McPhail's Cane Yelper being awarded first place in the Scratch Box Division of the National Wild Turkey Federation's 2013 Grand National Call Competition in Nashville.

McPhail edged out Missouri's Everett Drury. He was one of more than 850 calls entered in several categories in the call maker's contest.

McPhail also won the Southeastern Call Makers Scratch Box Division held last week in Raleigh, N.C., with another specially designed Cane Yelper.

Criteria used to determine winners in the contests included ease of use, sound quality, tone, versatility of the calls it will produce and its ability as a break-over call.

"I decided to start making calls so I could keep meeting call makers and to buy, sell and trade calls," said McPhail, a former CEO of a local hospital. "It's not about killing turkeys anymore; it's about meeting people and enjoying God's great outdoors."

His Cane Yelper call is made of bamboo and cedar, and came about after he signed up for a woodworking class at Meridian Community College and began learning how to use power equipment to make calls. He recently designed a slightly different variation of the Cane Yelper that is unique:. Not only is the call easy to use with a handle to hold it, but it also has a unique sound.