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

Denver 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Carolina 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Detroit 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Denver 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Portland 7:00 PM
Houston
Utah 7:00 PM
Memphis
Toronto 7:00 PM
Chicago
Atlanta 7:30 PM
Dallas
LA Clippers 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Sacramento 9:30 PM
Golden State
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Washington
Nashville 6:00 PM
Columbus
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Florida
Arizona 9:00 PM
Vancouver
San Jose 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Calgary 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ark-Little Rock 64 FINAL
Bradley 54
Brown 67 FINAL
Central Conn St 55
Stetson 59 FINAL
Florida State 63
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
Northwestern 63
Ohio 49 FINAL
George Washington 77
Southern Utah 61 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 70
Elon 67 FINAL
Kennesaw St 65
Dartmouth 49 FINAL
Penn State 69
Green Bay 70 FINAL
UC Irvine 72
DePaul 58 2nd Half 3:51
Colorado 76
Lewis & Clark 39 2nd Half 6:04
Portland 67
SC State 30 2nd Half
Abilene Christian 23
Manhattan 22 1st Half 5:56
Fordham 21
Truett-McConnell 16 1st Half 7:10
Ga Southern 27
Citadel 22 1st Half 6:49
Michigan State 23
Miami-Ohio 14 1st Half 5:43
Ohio State 34
Gardner-Webb 22 1st Half 7:17
Purdue 29
Idaho 18 1st Half 7:57
Northern Ky 20
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Albany
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Alcorn State
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Butler
SE Louisiana 6:00 PM
UCF
Oakland 6:00 PM
Clemson
Florida A&M 6:00 PM
East Carolina
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
IUPU-Ft Wayne 6:00 PM
Illinois State
Norfolk State 6:00 PM
James Madison
Binghamton 6:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Towson 6:00 PM
Navy
Long Island 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Notre Dame
William & Mary 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Liberty 6:00 PM
Princeton
Delaware 6:00 PM
Robert Morris
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Colgate 6:00 PM
Syracuse
Kansas 6:00 PM
Temple
Mercer 6:00 PM
Tennessee
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Va Military 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Alabama A&M 6:00 PM
Western Mich
New Orleans 6:05 PM
Indiana
Columbia 6:30 PM
Connecticut
Long Beach State 6:30 PM
St Johns
Wofford 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Southern U 7:00 PM
Baylor
UAB 7:00 PM
Chattanooga
Char Southern 7:00 PM
Colorado State
North Florida 7:00 PM
Iowa
NC Central 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Rice 7:00 PM
Lamar
Central Mich 7:00 PM
McNeese State
Coppin State 7:00 PM
Michigan
Furman 7:00 PM
Minnesota
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Weber State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma
Grambling St 7:00 PM
TCU
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Penn 7:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Chicago State 7:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Simpson 7:05 PM
Drake
Tenn Tech 7:05 PM
UMKC
Murray State 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Oral Roberts 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Arkansas
Wisconsin 8:00 PM
California
Coll of Charleston 8:00 PM
LSU
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Marquette
Northern New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
UC Santa Barbara 8:00 PM
Oregon
Miami-Florida 8:00 PM
Providence
Northeastern 8:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Kent State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
UC Davis 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Lewis-Clark State 8:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Walla Walla 8:05 PM
Portland State
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Marshall 9:00 PM
Nevada
Boise State 9:30 PM
Houston
UC Riverside 10:00 PM
San Diego St
Tulane 10:00 PM
Washington
Loyola Marymount 10:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Hawaii
BYU 48 FINAL
Memphis 55
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Holy Cross 78
Temple 59 FINAL
Villanova 64
Georgia Southern 68 FINAL
Southern U 52
Xavier 60 FINAL
Kennesaw St 61
Eastern Michigan 52 FINAL
Michigan 81
Brescia 56 FINAL
Marshall 127
(21) West Virginia 54 FINAL
Ohio State 96
UMBC 87 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 78
Cornell 79 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 61
St Bonaventure 70 FINAL
Georgetown 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Northeastern 62
Eastern Washington 67 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 63 FINAL
Texas Southern 69
Butler 72 FINAL
Illinois State 60
UC Davis 53 2nd Half 3:15
(16) Stanford 65
Washington St 73 2nd Half 5:49
Loyola Marymount 46
Sacramento St 65 2nd Half 11:21
San Jose St 68
SIU-Edwardsville 34 2nd Half
UMKC 18
Oakland 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Belmont 6:00 PM
(14) Georgia
George Mason 6:00 PM
Longwood
Kansas 6:05 PM
Creighton
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Kansas State
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Missouri
Hampton 7:00 PM
DePaul
Florida State 7:00 PM
Tulane
Murray State 7:00 PM
Illinois
Fla Gulf Coast 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
BYU 8:00 PM
Utah State
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