Editor’s Note: Most of us want to hunt a turkey we've never hunted before in a place we've never been. Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland, vice president for media, TV and video productions for Mossy Oak, has hunted all the races of wild turkey in the United States and two other countries. This week Mr. Cuz will tell us the differences in hunting each of the different types of gobblers.
We had heard that a lot of turkeys were in New Zealand, but not very many people hunted them. We also learned that these turkeys were originally Rio Grande gobblers that had been imported from the U.S. However, they were blondish-white color phase turkeys. I don’t know how that turkey phase got mixed-up with Rio Grande turkeys, but they did.
The good news was that the turkeys would gobble like crazy, but they were so flock-oriented that the gobblers wouldn’t break out of the flocks and come to our calling. Another strange thing about the New Zealand turkeys - they didn’t have to worry about predators. New Zealand didn’t have coyotes, foxes, bobcats, snakes, possums, hawks and owls. They didn’t even have any fire ants over there. So, the turkeys didn’t necessarily roost in trees.
The first flock I saw was moving across a clover field. Just at dark, they squatted down and sat in that clover. The next morning when we came to hunt them, they were still sitting in the clover field. So, I knew they roosted there all night long. We had to hunt turkeys a little different in New Zealand than the way we hunted turkeys in Mississippi. We had to try to call the flock to us and then ambush the gobblers. First, we had to determine which way the flock was moving, circle around and get in front of them, and then attempt to call the flock to us. When we first went over there, the limit was three gobblers per day. Usually, we could get that many turkeys by 8:00 am. I told our guide, “I could live over here, since there are no snakes and other predators and plenty of turkeys."