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Turkey Hunting: Find a Mentor, Be a Mentor

provided by John E. Phillips

Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland has been hunting wild turkeys for more than 50 years. When he first started working as a videographer for Mossy Oak, Cuz was traveling, filming and calling turkeys for about 72 days a year for many years. Today Cuz is Senior Vice President of Media Services at Mossy Oak in West Point, Mississippi, and still is one of the best turkey hunters ever.

mentoring turkey hunters

The last thing I would suggest to a new turkey hunter is to find as many places as you can where you can see, hear or know where a turkey is. When you’re learning to be a turkey hunter, you will make mistakes and spook some of the turkeys you’re attempting to call. Don’t worry though, because older hunters still make those mistakes. The more you go turkey hunting during turkey season, the more you will learn and know. 

One more tactic I probably should have suggested first is to find somebody who knows how to turkey hunt and ask if you can go with him on a hunt. If you can discover a turkey hunter who is willing to share his knowledge on hunting a turkey and take you with him on several hunts, you’ll learn more and faster about the sport than you can ever learn hunting on your own. If you’re not acquainted with someone who already knows how to hunt turkeys and is willing to take you out with them, call the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). Branches of the NWTF are in every state, and by talking to the person in charge of state chapters at the NWTF, they should be able to direct you to a chapter president in your state who can point you in the direction of someone who may be willing to take you and teach you how to turkey hunt. Another option is to call your state Game and Fish office and learn if your state has a mentoring program. 

Also you can go on Facebook, learn if there are any Facebook groups of turkey hunters in your state, go to them, and post this message: “I’m trying to learn to turkey hunt and would love to go with someone who knows how to turkey hunt and could teach me. I won’t even carry a gun.” I guarantee you that someone will respond. You also may post, “I’m willing to film you turkey hunting for free just to learn how to turkey hunt.” 

Anytime you can find someone to teach or mentor you in the sport of turkey hunting, that’s always the easiest and quickest way to hunt the wild turkey – the greatest of all game birds. Millions of people want to learn how to turkey hunt. All we need are people willing to teach them. If you’re a seasoned turkey hunter, you probably remember the first turkey you’ve ever taken. You can relive that same thrill, excitement and jubilation that you’ve experienced back then when you take someone else on their first turkey hunt and help them bag a bird. 

One state that does offer a mentoring program is Alabama, and the program is taught in two sessions. One session is where you learn about all the equipment, how to call, and what else you need to know to hunt a wild turkey. The second session is actually going on a turkey hunt with one of the state’s mentors. He’ll teach you how to find, call and take a wild turkey. More states are getting involved with this type of mentoring program to help more people learn to hunt and take wild turkeys.

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