Editor’s Note: Ronnie Strickland, known to most people in the outdoor industry as “Cuz,” is the senior vice president of Mossy Oak, and was one of the first outdoor videographers. Strickland enjoyed shooting tournament archery and also was an avid turkey and deer hunter. When Strickland first started hunting turkeys with a bow, the turkey decoy hadn’t been invented, portable blinds hadn’t come on the outdoor scene yet, and very little information was available about turkey hunting with a bow. This week Strickland tells us about the first three turkeys he ever took with his bow.
“Back in the day, taking a turkey with a bow just flew all over me, like it did other bowhunters,” Ronnie Strickland explains. “There’s just something deep inside of you that says, ‘You’ve got to take a turkey with a bow.’ Thirty five years ago when I made the decision that my life wouldn’t be complete until I’d taken a turkey with a bow, we didn’t have all the sophisticated equipment we have today. I read something that someone wrote about Ben Rodgers Lee, the five-time World Turkey Calling Champion from Coffeeville, Alabama, about putting fish hooks on arrows to keep the arrows from going all the way through the turkey. Back then the idea was to knock the turkey down with the power of the arrow and then keep the broadhead inside the turkey to make the bird’s running-off difficult. Back then, we didn’t have portable pop-up blinds, or anything else that makes turkey hunting with a bow easier today. I found out right quick that taking a turkey with a bow wasn’t nearly as big a deal as being able to draw the bow without the turkey’s seeing you. Back then I learned a whole lot more about how well a turkey could see than I’d ever known before. I’d think the turkey wasn’t looking at me and start to draw my bow, and the gobbler instantly would vanish. To pull a bow back in the old days wasn’t an easy task. I was shooting a 75-pound bow with round wheels, and today I shoot a PSE Turkey Thug with 55 to 60 pounds that’s faster and much-more accurate than my old 75-pound bow was.
“The first turkey I ever hunted with a bow was in the Homochitto National Forest near my home back then in Natchez, Mississippi. At that time, plenty of people were hunting turkeys, and I was hunting on public lands. I hunted for 2-weeks before I was finally able to take a jake with my bow. I was as proud of that jake as I would have been with a 30-pound gobbler that had a 15-inch beard and 4-inch spurs. I was hunting on a creek bank where I found two huge water oak trees that had grown together. By hiding behind those two trees, I could draw my bow and then shoot the gobbler when he walked in front of me. I think a lot about that first turkey when I’m out calling and filming for other people. Today bowhunters have these nice pop-up blinds that totally conceal the hunter and the cameraman, they’ve got attractive decoys, they can draw whenever they want to, and the turkey’s not going to see them. Everything changes for the better. But after I’d taken three turkeys with my bow, with no blind and no decoys, I felt like I’d had enough of that. I didn’t have to do it again, because I’d already done it.”
Tomorrow: PSE’s Pro Staff Member Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland Tells about His New Zealand Gobbler with His Bow
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