Anderson: Talkin' turkey with hunter extraordinaire Mark Strand

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 20, 2013 - 11:33 PM

Mark Strand makes it his business to pursue the wily birds pretty much wherever they are found.

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Mark Strand showed off a Merriam’s turkey shot near the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Strand has shot six species of turkey, a pursuit he calls the “World Slam.”

Photo: Photos courtesy of Mark Strand ,

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Mark Strand has chased turkeys throughout the U.S. and Mexico. A Twin Cities outdoors writer, photographer and videographer, Strand, 55, began hunting turkeys in the late 1970s.

“My dad was one of the only people to get a Minnesota turkey hunting permit in 1978, the first year the state had a season in recent times,’’ Strand said. “I got interested in turkeys at the same time, and in 1979 my dad, my uncle, a friend and I began hunting them wherever we could get permits.’’

The Strand turkey hunting tradition involves camping. Sometimes the locale is Minnesota, other times South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa or even Florida — stories of which Strand (www.markstrandoutdoors.com) has captured in a recent e-book, “Turkey Camp … and Other Turkey Hunting Stories.’’

Additionally, on a recent trip to Mexico, Strand took an Ocellated turkey, the sixth species in his “World Slam’’ that also includes the Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam’s, Osceola and Gould’s subspecies.

“When I first started turkey hunting I promised I wasn’t going to do anything with writing or photography involving turkeys, that this was going to be the one thing I did just for myself,’’ Strand said.

“It didn’t turn out that way. Now, turkey hunting is the only thing I think about every day, all year.’’

Q: What fascinates you about turkey hunting?

A: I’m amazed at their size and beauty and fascinated by the many ways you can call them and bring them close to you.

Q: Of all places you’ve hunted, which do you prefer?

A: Nebraska. Anywhere I can keep going and there are no fences, that’s what I like. Also, as a nonresident Nebraska turkey hunter, you can buy up to three licenses.

Q: What’s the weirdest turkey species you’ve hunted?

A: The Ocellated, which I hunted in Mexico. The males don’t gobble, they “sing,’’ which starts out just like a ruffed grouse drumming. I went down there thinking I would do it only once. But I ended up wanting to go back every year.

Q: Would you rather hunt with a bow or gun?

A: Gun. I have a bad back, and my neck is getting worse all the time. So I can’t draw a regular bow anymore; I have to use a crossbow. Still, I’d rather hunt with a gun. It’s easier to put a bird down for good.

  • related content

  • Mexican hunting guides Mito (left) and Margarito (right) with Mark Strand and his Ocellated turkey, inside a blind built using machetes.

  • A love of open spaces led Mark Strand to the South Dakota Badlands, where he filmed a turkey hunt with his father. Strand said he began turkey hunting when his father got a permit in 1978.

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