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.
When I first started videoing hunting shows, we didn’t have those nice, light, compact, high-definition video cameras that would fit in the palm of your hand and run for several hours without having to change the batteries. When I first began videoing, I had a camera with tubes in it, and it had a 3/4-inch cable that went into a tape deck. I put the tape deck on a backpack frame, so I could carry it on my shoulder, and I put a rifle sling on the camera and the tripod. Then I put the batteries and all the rest of my gear in the backpack. The camera, sound recording equipment and batteries weighed a total of 85 pounds.
At that time I was working and videoing for Will Primos, the founder of Primos Game Calls. We decided to go to Colorado and hunt elk on public land. Any time you hunt public land you're dealing with a different critter than when you're hunting on private land. Most public-land critters understand much more about hunters than the hunters know about the animals.
On this particular hunt, I can remember climbing to the top of a mountain with the 85 pounds of camera gear on my back and my shoulders. I was gasping for air. I also remember the severe headache that was a part of the altitude sickness that I was experiencing back then. You have to remember that Will and I were from Mississippi where there are no mountains – and certainly not anywhere near as tall as they have in Colorado.
I remember a prayer I prayed when I was 3/4 of the way up the mountain. I prayed and asked God to help me get to the top. If He would, I never would eat another pork chop as long as I lived. Back in those days, I would begin hunting season weighing about 275 pounds. By the end of hunting season, I would weigh about 230 pounds. This elk hunt was at the first of hunting season.
During one turkey season, I remember losing 30 pounds from the beginning of turkey season until the end of turkey season. Back in those days, if you wanted to be an outdoor videographer, you had to be strong and tough. You had to want to do it as bad as a college football player wanted to be on a professional football team after the first 2 weeks of the tryouts for the pros. Since cameras have gotten smaller and lighter, and you don’t have to pack nearly as much camera gear as we once did, we’re seeing more people videoing hunts than we did when the cameras were so big.