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The Story of Cranky the Turkey Hunter

provided by John Phillips

Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland, the vice president of Mossy Oak in West Point, Mississippi, has been fortunate enough to hunt turkeys with many famous and infamous people across the nation. Often, Cuz is the person who scouts, calls, and records during the hunt. Mossy Oak asked Cuz to tell us about some of his most memorable hunts ever. 

Cuz and Cranky

When you have your children, you think that there’s nothing that you can love more than your son or daughter. However, once you have your grandchildren, your love hits another gear and goes into overdrive. I have four grandchildren, and I’ve taken all of them turkey hunting. My youngest grandson is named William Benjamin Ellis, A.K.A Cranky. He got that name because when his mother was pregnant with him, she always felt him kicking. His older brother, who was about five at the time, told his mother, “That baby is cranky.” From time to time, I’d ask my daughter, Lauran, “How’s Cranky doing?” So, the name stuck. 

Cranky killed his first deer in the 2018 season when only six years old - a really big deer that he named Craig. I don’t know why he named the deer, Craig; he just did. 



When we talk to Cranky about turkey hunting, he always says, “Turkey hunting comes hard to me.” 

Cranky and I went turkey hunting one morning, and a tom turkey was gobbling his brains out. Now, if you called to him, he’d come in at about 100 yards, stop but never come into the gun. At that time, I didn’t have any places I could hunt turkeys. Not going to a gobbling turkey is tough - especially when he won’t come in to where you are. For two seasons, Cranky and I hunted this bad bird with no success. 

One day when we were walking out without calling that turkey, Cranky had his head down low and observed, “Pops, that turkey is the devil.” That’s when we named that bird the Devil Turkey.

The first year we hunted the Devil Turkey, Cranky and I hunted that bird for nine mornings and never saw him. This turkey lived on about 50 acres of land and had two other longbeards with him. I moved my trail cameras several times that year, set up pop-up blinds and did everything I knew to help Cranky kill the Devil Turkey. Since Cranky was only 6 then, I had to put the gun he was using in a gun vise and used a pop-blind to hide me, Cranky, the gun and the gun vise. Finally, after two years of hunting this bird, I got the Devil Turkey to walk out in a clover field where Cranky was able to shoot him. I usually hate to give a turkey a name because that means you’ve had problems trying to take that bird. However, the Devil Turkey was an exception because we’d hunted him so long and hard. I was even lucky enough to get this hunt on video. 

As soon as Cranky shot the Devil Turkey and saw him go down, he started crying uncontrollably. After a while, his mother asked, “Are you okay?” Cranky took a deep breath and said, “I’m just so happy.” When he finally stopped crying, there was a big smile on his face. 



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