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.
I guess one of my favorite turkeys to hunt is the Merriam’s gobbler. I think he’s one of the prettiest toms there is to hunt, because of his pretty almost-pure-white bleached-out tips of his tail feathers. I'm so in love with the Merriam’s probably because that’s the first hunt I ever went on was for this race of wild turkeys. I was hunting on public grounds, and our guide let me out. He told me to go to the top of the mountain, and I should hear some turkeys fly up to roost. So, I climbed, climbed, climbed and climbed to reach the top of the mountain. Finally, just at dark, I was able to make a turkey gobble. Then, I heard two more turkeys gobble a long way from me. I kept seeing a light way off in the distance, however, I couldn’t see it very well. I thought, “Maybe that’s a coal plant, or perhaps it’s a radar tower, but I need to see what that light is.” So, I climbed up in the top of a tree. After I got high enough to see, I took out my binoculars, looked at that light and realized the light was coming from Mount Rushmore. I never will forget that sight in the middle of the dark night.
Also, I like Merriam’s gobblers, because those birds like to talk. If they can hear you, the Merriam’s gobbler won’t hesitate to come to you from a mile away. If a Merriam’s gobbler answers my calling, over the years, I've learned to sit down and eat a candy bar. By the time I’m finished with that candy bar, the gobbler will be right in front of me. I think one of the reasons that the Merriam’s gobbler’s feet are bigger than the Rio Grande gobblers’ feet because Merriam’s don’t hesitate to walk a mile or two to come to you. Their beards may be a little bit smaller than other subspecies of wild turkeys, because they drag their beards across rocks.
Merriam’s like high places, although you can take them in the prairie. I think the Merriam’s gobbler is one of the easiest turkeys to call and definitely one of the most-beautiful of all the races of wild turkeys. For me, a Merriam’s hunt is a vacation hunt.