BELMONT -- The puns have been exhausted about 15-year-old wildlife caller Greg Hubbell Jr.'s "true calling."
He was only 6 when his talent for emulating elk and waterfowl was discovered, and since then he's been featured everywhere from national television to National Public Radio. That makes him Carlmont High School's most famous student.
"People are over the weirdness state of it," he said. "I've been around the same people forever, and I kind of get respected for it now."
Hubbell Jr. won his 15th World Wildlife Calling Championship last month at the 2011 World Swan Calling Championships in North Carolina, making him the current world titleholder for five species. He's the only person to have held more than two.
Although some of the world's top wildlife callers and coaches have described him as a natural talent, the wins don't come without practice. On any given evening, passers-by might hear the grunt of a mature buck or the quack of a lonesome hen emanating from within his Belmont home.
Hubbell Jr. demonstrated his unique ability last week in his living room, tired from a full day of classes and baseball practice -- he also plays football, quarterbacking the junior varsity football team.
For duck and goose he uses a reed device, for elk and turkey a diaphragm and bugle, and for the swan his voice is his only instrument. A duck routine is a choreographed performance starting with a loud hail call, followed by a greeting
It isn't bird calling, and Hubbell Jr. takes offense when people call it that. What he does requires nuance. Sometimes in the morning, when Canada geese fly over their house, Hubbell Jr. will point out a "spit note," a particular sound they make, to his father, Greg Hubbell Sr.
Hubbell Sr. plays the role of full-time coach, manager and dad, taking him all over the country for competitions, pushing him to practice every night, and generally gloating about the success of his prodigious son.
"Hands down, he is the best water fowler in the country," Hubbell Sr. said.
The pair were slated to be in Reno this past weekend for the World Elk Calling Championship. Hubbell Jr. earns thousands of dollars a year in cash and prizes, has pro sponsors and could potentially do this for the rest of his life, but he has his mind set on playing professional baseball.
"I don't know if I want to make a career out of it," he said.
In the meantime, he's going to continue competing -- and in all likelihood, keep winning.
"We're going to set the bar so high nobody can get over it," Hubbell Sr. said.