Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland was one of my boyhood heroes, and I know I have plenty of company there! Cuz embodies that humble, genial “guy next door” for many of us. He has an “aw shucks” personality and has done so much with the talents and opportunity that were given him. He has evolved from a groundbreaking cameraman, to an onscreen personality, and finally into a master communicator and ambassador of turkey hunting.
In 2002, Strickland (who I’ll refer to hereafter as the more familiar Cuz), published The Truth About Spring Turkey Hunting According to “Cuz” as the first in a trilogy of his turkey hunting journey. In a clever play on words, his next two books were The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth. A man who appreciates a tough turkey and spins a good yarn, this 3-book series is one I could recommend to new and veteran hunters alike. I remember getting mine and reading the Prefaces in the first book by outdoor legends Toxey Haas of Mossy Oak and Will Primos. I saw that my reverence of Cuz was not misplaced. Even his peers admire his abilities and charisma!
A book that has actual “laugh out loud” moments is particularly memorable, and the first chapter of The Truth accomplished that for me. In his opening chapter, he chronicles an encounter with a snake that, if recorded on video, would have been the $100,000 season-award winning video on AFV! Trust me…it will make you double check your backpack or hunting vest after coming home from the woods! Cuz has developed (and embraced) a reputation for “Calling Too Much and Too Loud” as his chapter of the same name relates. I’ve heard it said that Cuz could knock the rust off an old truck at 100 paces when he lights that tube call up when locating birds!
The best part of a turkey hunt happens well after it is over. That is when you gather with friends, reclined on the porch, or leaning into the warmth of a campfire. The Truth series is a fine specimen of those tales told, it is not a preachy “how-to” book or a braggy book tallying dead turkeys. It is a demonstration of the fine craft of storytelling, where turkeys are respected at the highest level, and where we meet that respected foe on a field of battle and take a mix of lumps and victories. It is about the other people we share the journey with and about what it means to us. It is about the depths of the lows and the crests of the highs. This is demonstrated as he tells of a hunt that started out as a sure thing, as “One hour and five minutes later my grin was gone and so was the gobbler.” Who hasn’t lived that one!
The book offers a peek behind the scenes into the taping and production of Primos “The Truth” hunting show, first done in 1986 and 1987. When Will Primos was trying to come up with a name for it, Cuz told Will, “I don't know what to call it, but it definitely is THE TRUTH!” The Truth book series is only available in the used secondary market but are well worth tracking down!