Editor’s Note: Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland of West Point, Mississippi, is a legend in the outdoors. Cuz started his outdoor career as an outdoor editor for the Natchez, Miss. newspaper. Then when the world discovered video, Cuz was a cameraman and vidiot for Primos Game Calls. Today, Cuz is vice president of Mossy Oak television and video productions. Cuz has been a bowhunter for as long as he can remember and once shot tournament archery.
Pre-season scouting for archery season really has changed for me. I have much more fun scouting before the early season than I once did. I enjoy putting out trail cameras, building food plots and hunting for deer with only my binoculars. I enjoy this pre-season scouting event more than I enjoy taking deer with a bow. I enjoy it so much now, because I get to share those experiences with my grandchildren. Two of my grandsons bagged their first turkeys this year, and now they're totally eat up with the idea of going hunting. They have been bitten by the hunting bug about as bad as anyone I've ever seen.
I don’t really start scouting a lot until the bucks start putting on antlers. But when those velvet antlers start to appear, I love to load up the grandchildren, go check trail cameras and look for deer in the agricultural fields around my property. We have soybeans and corn. When we go on these scouting expeditions, I take my spotting scope and teach my grandchildren how to look through the spotting scope to see deer and use binoculars to spot deer. I want them to see where the bucks are coming out into the field to feed and identify the trails the deer take when they leave the fields.
The thing I enjoy most is just being able to spend time with my grandchildren. Walker Tate is 7, and his dad is Kevin Tate. Matt Ellis, who is my daughter Lauren’s oldest child, will be 6 in July. My youngest grandchild is 2. Both the boys have been deer hunting. Walker took his first deer when he was 6. He’d been scouting that deer with me through the summer long before deer season arrived. For me, there's nothing more fun than teaching my grandchildren to scout and to hunt. They get enthusiastic about hunting, even when the weather’s hot during the summer months.
The big deal for them is the trail cameras. I let them help me pick out the spots where we’ll place the trail cameras. Then they go with me to pull the cards and put new cards in the trail cameras. They like to go back to the house and put the cards in the computer, study the pictures and look at all the animals that pass in front of the trail cameras. They all have computer games and Game Boys. So, looking at the trail-camera pictures on the computer is right down their alleys. For me, what was once a lonely, solitary, hot weather, pre-season scouting trip has now become one of my most fun times of the year. I hope it’s a fun time for my grandchildren also. I feel many of us may be missing out on a lot of quality family time by not taking our children and grandchildren scouting for deer with us.