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.
For me, the Gould’s turkey is much like a Merriam’s turkey. My first trip to Mexico was many, many years ago. Back then, we couldn’t take a gun across the Mexican border. The guide service we were going to hunt with said, “Don’t worry about your gun. I've got you covered. I've got a gun you can use. I’ll meet you at the border and help you get across the border.” Back in those days, we didn’t have cell phones, and we didn’t have apps to give you all the information you needed to know to go into Mexico. So, we went to Mexico, got across the border and were looking forward to hunting Gould’s turkeys.
When our guide arrived, he had a 1964 Dodge pickup truck that wouldn’t start. Every time we wanted to start the truck, we had to push it off. I asked to see his turkey gun. He had a bolt-action .22 Magnum rifle. If you didn’t keep your hand on the bolt after you ejected a shell, the bolt would fall out of the gun. On top of everything else, our particular guide didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak Spanish.
On the first day, we covered a lot of ground, and we saw numbers of turkeys. On the second day, I took a shot at a gobbler and missed him by about 2 feet, even though the turkey was only at 20 yards when I took the shot. Immediately, I knew the rifle wasn’t sighted in for a head shot on a turkey. So, we took the gun back to the place where we were staying and put up a target. Just as I thought, the rifle was shooting 12-inches high at 20 yards. We made the adjustments we needed to make to get the rifle somewhat zeroed in for me. On the fourth day of the hunt, I finally shot my Gould’s gobbler at 20 yards when he was walking away from me.
From this Gould’s turkey hunt, I learned that if you're not willing to walk a lot, you're not going to hear or see many turkeys, since there’s a lot of ground between gobblers. But the birds are beautiful and a real challenge to hunt. I enjoyed my Mexican adventure and the hunt for the Gould’s turkey.
I've often been asked, “Cuz, have you ever hunted an ocellated turkey in Central America?” My answer is always, “No, and I don’t plan to hunt one.” You have to hunt the ocellated turkey in the jungles of Central America, and they’ve got all kind of snakes down there that will not only bite, but they’ll squeeze you to death. Another reason I don’t want to hunt an ocellated gobbler is because for me, the joy of hunting turkeys is getting to hear a turkey gobble. Those turkeys down there don’t gobble. Now, I know this is an exotic trip, and many people like to hunt those turkeys. But, I'm sorry. I'm just not a fan of ocellated birds.