Mossy Oak National ProStaff member Pat Strawser of Millersburg, Pennsylvania, has been hunting and calling turkeys for 35 years. He started entering turkey calling contests in the 1980s. “I grew up in the revival of turkey hunting and turkey calling and the restocking of the wild turkey nationally,” Strawser explained.
Pat Strawser | Mossy Oak ProStaff
My friend Scott Basehore and I have leased ranches in Florida, and we run a turkey-hunting operation each spring there for Osceola gobblers. Scott is really a box-call guru. Scott went to Florida and started hunting with Jim Connelly back in 1983 as a customer. Jim told Scott, “I could probably hunt a few more hunters if I had another guide.” So in 1984, Scott went down and started guiding for Jim, and he's guided every year since then.
In the mid 1990s, Scott was telling me about this turkey-hunting operation in Florida where he was guiding, and he said, “Pat, our business is starting to grow. If you'll go to Florida with me this spring, you can guide with us down there and hunt Osceola turkeys throughout the season.”
I went down and started guiding, and I haven’t missed a spring turkey season in Florida since the mid 1990s. The two of us guided for Connelly for more than 20 years.
When Jim decided to get out of the turkey hunting and guiding business, he turned it over to Scott and me. We got to know some really good ranchers down in Florida, and they gave us a nice place to stay and entertain our hunters. Our operation is called Old Tom Outdoor Adventures.
We have several thousand acres on different ranches, but we only hunt 12 hunters a season. We’re located in Lake County, which is south of Orlando and within the home range of the pure species of Osceola turkeys. We’re usually booked a full two years in advance. We’re already full for 2019, so when you’re booking a hunt, do so well in advance. Right now, we’re still booking for 2020. We run 100-percent success. The reason we can produce those types of numbers is we don’t hunt more than 12 people on thousands of acres of land for Osceolas.
We could probably take 15 gobblers each year off our main ranch that we hunt. However, we only choose to take six gobblers off that ranch. We like to leave enough turkeys on the land, so we know we have plenty of mature birds for our hunters to hunt. The only way we can produce older gobblers is to not harvest them when they're younger gobblers.