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.

hide

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 ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

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.

Q: If you could have only one type of call, what would it be?

A: A mouth call. You can do things with a mouth call you can’t with other calls. It’s easier to sound just like a turkey. Turkeys in the wild don’t sound like most turkey calls. In fact, if you egg them on when calling them and get them excited, they’ll say things they otherwise never would. They can almost sound like two donkeys fighting. You can imitate that with a mouth call. You can’t with other types of calls.

Q: Is there a brand of call you prefer?

A: I make my own mouth calls. Ray Eye, who lives in Missouri, taught me how. I purchase various thicknesses of latex and frames and hand-stretch the latex to precisely the tension that works for me. Because the call is handmade, you can make calls you otherwise couldn’t. Ray really knows turkeys. As a teenager he followed them through the woods two or three days at a time.

Q: Handicap other call types.

A: I primarily use a slate call and a mouth call. A lot of days I’ll hunt with just those two. Other days I’ll also use a box call. Also, push-button calls are realistic sounding, and they take 30 seconds to learn how to use. Whatever you bring into the woods, make sure you sound like a turkey. If you don’t sound good on a mouth call, for instance, leave it home.

Q: What is a turkey’s tolerance for call quality?

A: Perhaps 80 percent of the time, turkeys have zero tolerance for you not sounding like a turkey. There are exceptions on certain days, when toms come running regardless. But most days, if you don’t sound real, they won’t come to you.

Q: Does that vary day to day?

A: It can vary hour to hour, depending on weather and other factors. I was in the Black Hills once when response from toms to calling was terrific. That night, it snowed. The next day the birds totally shut down.

Q: Do you call more as a hen, or a tom?

A: Probably half and half. But I can get toms more excited about coming to me when I sound like a hen. Also, if I make a mistake by moving or something, I think toms called to as if I were a hen are more forgiving. Also, when they’re coming to you, I believe in calling them all the way in, rather than going quiet, as some people suggest.

Q: What do you think of blinds?

A: I invented a blind that weighs just 5 pounds, which works well. For most purposes, I think they’re fabulous, like when you set up super close to a roost — something you’d typically do the day before. They’re also great for taking inexperienced hunters with you. And they’re fantastic for photography and video. But in the past five years, the use of a ground blind has become “what you do,’’ which in some instances can work against you. Sometimes you need to get up and move to find a tom. If you let it, a blind can become an anchor.

Q: What are your decoy preferences?

A: I don’t use decoys often. When I do, I like a hen in a relaxed body posture. A lot of hen decoys are too upright, and that body posture among turkeys can signal trouble. I like relaxed body posture hen decoys with the eyes situated such that a tom can’t look into their eyes until they get into bow or gun range. As for a jake decoy, I like it to have a defiant body posture, facing the direction a tom is likely to come from.

Q: What’s your preference in shotgun loads?

A: I love No. 5 shot. But I’ve also used No. 7 HeavyWeight turkey shot by Federal, an absolute great load.

Q: Of all factors involved in hunting a wild turkey, what’s fundamental, upon which the other variables depend?

A: Knowing where turkeys are and something about their tendencies during the day is crucial. Knowing where they roost, and exactly the spot the fly up from, into trees, and where they fly down, is equally important. It’s not enough to say from 300 yards away that you put a turkey to bed. Roosting a turkey and knowing something about where they tend to go down is crucial. Next you have to hold still, which is its own type of extreme sport. If you don’t hold still, turkeys will leave. Then, in the end, calling is the difference-maker.



  • 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.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 5 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: D. O`Day 3
Milwaukee - LP: J. Broxton 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Holdzkom 4
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda 5
Washington - WP: D. Fister 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: T. Koehler 2
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 3
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 5 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Cleveland - LP: K. Crockett 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: J. Burton 5
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 10 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 10 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Peacock 5
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. Lyles 15
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Lackey 2
Philadelphia - LP: D. Buchanan 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 3
Texas - WP: L. Bonilla 12 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 3
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: O. Despaigne 5
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 5
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close