To Take a Youngster Turkey Hunting for the First Time You Must Get Your Mind Right
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.
At the time of this writing, I have four grandchildren, and I’m hoping for more. My oldest grandchild, a girl, is 12, and my grandsons are 9, 7 and 4 years old. The 4 year old’s just a little too young to get started. The first time I took my 12-year-old granddaughter to hunt turkeys, she really didn’t want to shoot a turkey, although we had the birds in really close, and she got to see quite a show. The 9- and 7-year old boys already have taken a couple of turkeys each, so I’ve built up some experience on hunting with grandchildren. Of course, I took all of my children hunting, and they loved it.
I started my children and grandchildren really early in their turkey-hunting careers. I’ve learned one of the key essentials for having a great turkey hunt with either your children or your grandchildren is to begin talking about the hunt long before you go on the hunt. I tell my young hunters how exciting the hunt will be, how much fun it will be, what we’ll do when we hear the turkey gobble, how we’ll hide from the turkey, and what we’ll do when we see that turkey come in strutting and drumming. I want to really get that child’s excitement level built up so high that they may not go to sleep the night before the hunt. I always tell them that turkey hunting is more fun than deer hunting or going fishing; and all of my grandchildren already have been deer hunting and fishing. We talk about why we wear Mossy Oak camouflage, and why we hide, so the turkeys and the other animals can’t see us.