Editor’s Note: The sport of turkey hunting will continue if each of us dedicates ourselves to teaching the next generation (including our children and our grandchildren). Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland, vice president of Mossy Oak Television and Video Production, says, “Turkey hunting trips with my grandchildren are some of my best turkey hunts ever.” To understand why, we asked Cuz to tell us all how he’s training his grandchildren to turkey hunt. Cuz always has been a turkey hunter and has hunted the birds for 45 years. He also has filmed turkey hunts for Will Primos and the “Truth Series of Turkey Hunting” videos. When Cuz came to work for Mossy Oak, he filmed television and video shows for Mossy Oak, he did much of the calling, scouting and setting-up for the people in the videos, and he guided customers and the press to turkeys. Cuz may have hunted and called in more turkeys than anyone else ever.
You can’t really expect a youngster to sit still and be quiet as long as you can sit still and be quiet when you’re working a turkey. For this reason, when I’m taking a youngster hunting, I’ll try and locate a gobbler before the hunt, set-up a portable blind and brush it up. I’ll put it close enough that I can call to that turkey, or I’ll build a natural blind out of branches, limbs and twigs. I want to locate the blind close enough to where the turkey is roosting or traveling in the morning, so that I can call to him, but far enough away, so that my grandchildren won’t spook the bird as we walk into the blind.
From years of hunting, I know that turkeys aren’t always in the trees where you’ve roosted them the night before, so I always carry a fold-up saw and some pruning shears. Then if we have to move to get closer to the turkey, we can build a fort. A fort is much better than a blind, even though the fort is a blind; and to kids, building a fort is much cooler than building a turkey blind. I’ll usually try and pile-up some dead pine limbs to the front of the fort, so the youngster can move around and fidget without the turkey spotting him.
You won’t be successful every time you try anything, you won’t be successful taking a wild turkey gobbler every time you hunt him, and you won’t be successful with your calling to get a turkey to come to 20 to 25 yards every time you call to a wild turkey. One of the things I like about hunting and teaching a youngster to hunt turkeys is you don’t always get a trophy or a medal each time you hunt. And, even if you hunt hard for 2-3 days, you won’t always go home with a turkey or an animal.
Tomorrow: The Four Stages of a Turkey Hunter