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Turkey Hunting and Filming Then and Now with Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland

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 Toxey old photo

When I first started hunting turkeys, one of the first seasons that came in was in the Low Country of South Carolina. Toxey Haas, the creator of Mossy Oak, and I usually would start hunting there on the first Saturday of March and finish turkey season out West in the middle of May. For more than 20 years, I hunted turkeys for 75 days annually. Surprisingly, we took more turkeys in other states than we did in Alabama or my home state of Mississippi. 

During those days, there weren’t many people who had turkey-hunting shows or videos, so we had the opportunity of getting a lot of valuable turkey-hunting footage. At one point, Mossy Oak had five television shows running on major networks, and we just couldn’t get enough video for them. Therefore, I didn’t get to spend much time at home during turkey season - but I truly loved turkey hunting. 

When I began recording videos, the first camera I used was an in-studio TV camera - the same camera we used to broadcast quality television shows. It had a huge cable that hooked up to a 3/4-inch tape deck that lasted 20 minutes, and I usually would carry a belt of one-pound batteries to run the camera and tape recorder during hunts. While hiking, I carried the battery pack on my back and put the camera on my tripod that was attached to a shotgun sling I carried on my neck. After weighing my camera equipment, it came out to be a whopping 88 pounds! This was a brutal load to carry, especially when we were hunting in the mountains. Back then I was pretty heavy, but during the spring, I’d usually lose at least 20 pounds from carrying that load.

Today, I can also shoot broadcast-quality video with my iPhone and a shotgun mic. I’ve never had equipment that I could carry so easily: the mic, the phone and the batteries all fit inside my pocket. I’ve been amazed at how far technology has come in the video world. 

Throughout my career, I’ve been living a life in the woods much greater than I ever could have imagined. So far, I’ve been fortunate enough to hunt with a Supreme Court Justice, racecar drivers, country music singers and outdoor writers. I guess the thing that has meant the most to me about these hunts is not the turkeys we’ve taken, but the people I’ve met and with whom I’ve hunted. So, when I’m asked about my most memorable turkey hunts, the first one that comes to mind is the one that I had with Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia.

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