STUTTGART -- Nick Brichacek of Schyler, Neb., put the finishing touch on the Wings Over the Prairie Festival on Saturday by winning the World's Championship Duck Calling Contest.
Brichacek, 35, a landscaping employee, won $10,000 from the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce, a gold and garnet ring valued at about $5,000 from Wilkerson's Jewelers, a War Eagle duck boat, a Benelli shotgun, Winchester BlindSide ammunition and many other prizes.
Having entered his first contest at age 13, Brichacek placed in the top 10 at the World's Championship in 2013 and 2014. He qualified for this year's World's Championship at the Hunter Memorial Regional at Tama, Iowa.
The interval between the qualifier and the World's Championship was stressful, Brichacek said. He said he felt confident at the beginning of Saturday's championship, but he said he felt like he won it by the end of the third round.
Michael Steinmeyer, winner of the 2019 World's Championship and the 2021 Champion of Champions contest, is one of Brichacek's mentors. He said he believed Brichacek won as early as the second round.
"Dude, I heard your first and second round, and I got chills," Steinmeyer said. "You don't know because you heard it. You know it because you felt it. It's an amazing feeling, that feeling you get when you know that you stuck the landing."
Nodding, Brichacek said he had that feeling at the end of the third round.
"I was trying to dry my call out with a dollar bill, and I was shaking," Brichacek said.
Advancing from the top 10 to first place was a journey that involved a lot of people, Brichacek said. It requires a lot of practice and also exposing oneself to criticism from friends and mentors.
"I record routines and send them to Michael and Adam Lyerly at Refuge Calls," Brichacek said. "We're all friends. We help one another out. You can't have soft skin. They're going to tell you like it is. You have to man up and fix what needs fixing and keep trying."
Brichacek said the consistent deficiencies he had to correct were smoothing his tone and creating a smoother flow in his calling routine.
After the contest, Brichacek looked bewildered when he looked at his pile of prizes inside the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce conference room.
"It has sunk in, but it kind of hasn't, I guess," Brichacek said. "I've never felt anything like it honestly. I wrestled and played football in school, but I never won anything like this."