KENNEWICK -- Abel Cortina's passion for duck calling can be heard in his voice -- his words rise and fall with the wailing-siren cadence of a 50-second hail call.
The Prosser man's skills will be put to the test today when he and other duck and geese callers converge on Columbia Park for the 68th annual Washington State Duck and Goose Calling Championships.
The winner will head to the 2014 World Duck Calling Championships in Stuttgart, Ark., on Thanksgiving weekend.
"If you live in Washington state and you think you got what it takes, you can enter," Cortina said.
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He has what it takes.
Cortina is an organizer, competitor and judge. He's also claimed Washington's state title in 2003 and 2012, as well as an Arizona state championship in 2005 when he was stationed in the Grand Canyon State.
"I'm 50 years old, and I've been waterfowling since I was 9 years old," Cortina said.
His protege, Mike Maier of West Richland, is the defending state champion.
Saturday's event also includes the state goose calling championships, state open duck and open goose calling events, two-man duck and two-man goose competitions and peewee and junior duck calling for youth.
Competitors are asked to register at least an hour before the event they're entering. Action starts at 7:30 a.m. at the stage at the east end of the park.
Entry fees are $25 for juniors, $35 for novices, $45 for open and sanctioned events, $50 for two-man team competitions and free for pee-wees.
Hunters looking to pick up tips and improve their duck calling skills might want to leave their notebooks and tape recorders behind.
"The way you would call a duck on the stage -- to call the judges -- you would scare every duck in the marsh," Cortina said.
Competitors have 10 seconds to warm up before regaling a hidden five-judge panel with hail calls, greeting calls, comeback calls and chatter.
The goal is to draw an imaginary duck flying about 300 yards away toward the call, Cortina said.
"You have to paint a picture in the judge's mind's eye," he said.