Chat with Mark Strand

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ticklishtompro
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby ticklishtompro » May 25th, 2012, 3:59 pm

First I just want to say I love reading your articles Mark, and looking forward to reading about your Occilated hunt. Also loved the victory pancakes article. We do a victory breakfast when we take kids out hunting(and even if they don't get a bird).

I know my biggest stuggle is also if they aren't talking should I stay or go. In fact the 5th season here in WI Mr. Lovett came over for a hunt and we had that happen. I had been seeing lots of birds on the property but the question kept being asked between the 2 of us, "What should we do?" We ended up hitting 2 more properties and did see a couple of gobblers, but the real hen won out over us. The problem with moving too much is how many birds you bump, but you always have the possibility of finding a hot bird somewhere. But by the 7th week I had been hunting(including a mentor hunt & youth hunt) I didn't have too much sit left in me.

Thanks for participating on the forum, it has been a pleasure reading your posts.
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WillowRidgeCalls
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » May 25th, 2012, 4:17 pm

I agree with what's being said. I for one feel there isn't a bird that can't be called in, but you have to know what calls to give him and when to give it to him. Being a consistant turkey killer is a mere fact of being confident. If you go into the woods thinking you only have a slight chance at taking a bird, your actualy hurting yourself more than helping yourself. If you go in confident that you will take a bird home, you will not only hunt better, but you will protrude that in your calling as well. It's just like that sud-dominant gobbler, yes he will answer you, but he does it half heartedly where a confident dominant gobbler will blast you out of your seat. If you don't have confidence in what your doing, there is a very good chance you'll be eating tag soup. Survival is everything to a turkey, so put yourself in that hens world. I know a lot of turkey hunters say you should only call softly and less calling in the later seasons? I for one would like to poke them with a stick!! If your a hen that has lost her nest or hasn't been bred yet for some reason, there is no, well he'll get to me sooner or later. I tend to call more often and with a little more electricity in my late season calling, than I do in the early spring season calling. The high energy you put into your calling will trigger that hard to call bird and make him come even if it's against his better judgement or his reluctance to leave his comfort zone?
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MarkStrand
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 25th, 2012, 6:29 pm

Hey Ticklishtompro...
Thank you for the kind words about my writing; the essays for Turkey & Turkey Hunting are my favorite things to write each year, I would have to say. Our sport has so many facets to it, including all the cool places where wild turkeys live, and it's fun coming up with new things to say about it all. I wish I could have been as quick to realize, like you did, that "victory" pancakes can be served all day, every day (depending on the menu of the local diner, of course)... what a great thing to add to a young hunter's memory banks. Going hunting equals fun, and that includes getting to eat out and just talk about what happened out there.
So, did you and Brian hunt near Sheboygan? I'm not sure what the habitat is like in that neck of the woods for turkeys... know that it's good for fishing if you continue to head east, though!
Yeah, for sure, if you move a lot you are going to bump some birds. But I do believe that if you walk naturally you rarely put a monster scare into them, and it seems like they just move to the side and let you go by, in a lot of cases, just like fish slide off to the side of your boat if you drive over them when they're in the top 10 feet or so.
Charlie talks about this, in fact, in his posts in this thread, of how when he started hunting with turkey dogs in the fall, realized how many birds he was walking right by. My feeling is that, as long as you maintain a minimal profile while moving through the hunting area, you can keep turkeys in there, and they will get back to gobbling and carrying on after the immediate threat (them being able to see you, for example) has passed.
I always err on the side of moving when things are quiet, unless I just know for sure, or strongly suspect, that birds are using a specific area right then. In those situations, I might settle in, continue to call, and wait them out for as long as my patience lasts. Sounds like you are pretty much in that same camp. Regardless of what happens, I strongly believe that you need to make decisions, be happy with them, and accept the outcomes. I have seen hunters beat themselves up, second-guess themselves to death, to the point that they don't have as much fun as they could. It's supposed to be fun more than anything else. If we want to get stressed out, we can just stay at work, is the way I see it.
Last edited by MarkStrand on May 25th, 2012, 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 25th, 2012, 6:45 pm

Hey Willow...
Thanks for posting your thoughts on this... it's helping me make it through the final days of the season by hanging out with you guys!
I will say that there have been plenty of instances where I sent forth what I thought were pretty good series of yelps and cuts, only to walk fifty feet and watch two big toms walk away from me. They had a front-row seat to my fine performance, blew it off, then walked out. Of course, what probably happened in those cases was that the turkeys had heard or seen me coming before I made the calls. I would rather think that my ninja moves are so undetectable that there's no way, but there's probably a way...
I'm right with you on the confidence thing, but I will also say that I've watched hunters who bought into the theory that they should go forth with confidence, call with excitement, and good things will happen... but they haven't practiced calling enough to sound real on a call. It seems to be the case that, if you don't sound real on a turkey call, it doesn't help when you do it louder and more often. So that's about where I would personally draw the line... you can still go out there with confidence, scout hard, pin down the locations and movement tendencies of the turkeys, and put the premium on your positioning. At the same time, I believe that each hunter should be brutally honest about what type of caller they are best with, and only bring those types out in the woods. For me, I've never been very good on a box call, so I don't rely on them much. I'm way more of a slate and mouth call guy, because they fit with my talents for whatever reason. I know a lot of people will say that the box call is the easiest to master of all, but I would argue that a slate call is easier, and for most people can produce a wider variety of sounds.
Having said all of that, I fully agree with your take that, even in the later seasons (or maybe especially at that time), there is no logical reason to quiet down on the turkey calls. Even when you don't hear much turkey talk that's coming naturally, you should still believe that turkeys can be fired up, because they can. A couple days ago, I had a hen so inspired by our calling exchange (which got really loud at times) that she came in doing aggravated purring, in between her putting, cutting, and long strings of yelping. Boy turkeys, for sure, remain in the mood for the mating season, at least at times.. and if you gobbler yelp at them, and cut at them, they will often respond with gusto, in the name of challenging you, as the gobbler flocks are fixin' to get back together. I like your term, "electricity" when talking about your calling. That's a great word for it! As you say, high energy in your calling (as long as it sounds real) can, indeed, trigger birds into responding. As Ray always says, he wants to get the same reaction from turkeys with his calling, that they would give to each other. He also says he wants to get every turkey as excited as possible, "because they make mistakes when they get excited." That's exactly what you are saying here, when you say that a bird will come to your excited calling, "even if it's against his better judgment" or reluctance to leave that comfort zone. You are right on with your take on the sport, at least from my experiences.
The other way to look at it: it's much more fun when you get responses from turkeys. It makes things happen, rather than turning the sport into a waiting game, where you sit there and hope something is going to happen.

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Gopherlongbeards
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby Gopherlongbeards » May 25th, 2012, 6:53 pm

MarkStrand wrote: I have seen hunters beat themselves up, second-guess themselves to death, to the point that they don't have as much fun as they could. It's supposed to be fun more than anything else. If we want to get stressed out, we can just stay at work, is the way I see it.


Ain't that the truth. You're always going to think about what you "should" have done if it doesn't work out, but don't beat yourself up over it. Just try it again on the next bird. You can't killum every time. Some of the birds I haven't killed (and there sure are a lot of those) have left me with better memories than the ones I have put over my shoulder. There are few things I love to hate more than a gobbler I've developed a grudging respect for after he's bested me on numerous occasions. There have been several birds that I've given a little salute on my way out of the woods after I've been unable to kill them. One particular old bird in the Black Hills comes to mind. He's bested me 3 years in a row now. I hope he's still out there next spring, and I (almost) hope I never do kill him.

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 26th, 2012, 11:27 am

Gopher... that is the way to think about our encounters with these birds. To say that every hunt does not end in storybook fashion is a major understatement, and, as you put it so well, those turkeys that elude us can be every bit as memorable as the ones that we shoot dead. They don't know what we are, they're not smart, but they are just working very hard to stay alive. When you think about how much it exposes them to vocalize loudly, and stand out there all puffed up with the sun shining on their iridescent feathers, it's always impressive to me how much of their ability to vanish is retained. I am also impressed by how they can move off without making much sound (at least that I can hear), even on dried leaves and crunchy sticks. If I try to walk on that same ground, there is often no way to be as quiet as they are. I know we weigh a lot more, but even with our best efforts, we are much clumsier than they are.
It pisses me off to no end when they stop before coming all the way in, even when things appear to be perfect and they seem fired up. Same thing I feel when a trout refuses a perfect drift right into its wheelhouse. What's up with that?

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Treerooster
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby Treerooster » May 27th, 2012, 7:30 am

OK I have had to adjust my hat size bigger a couple of notches from all the nice things said about Treerooster. :oops: :D

Wow some great discussion the past couple of days! Man a guys goes back to work and he misses out on some great stuff. I guess we ALL can't be turkey bums...eh? :D


I have a question on calling (actually quite a few). There was talk about calling properly and sounding like an actual turkey, and I believe that is definitely true...But how does a hunter know when his calls are sounding right? Sounding good enough to call turkeys at anytime of year?

It is said a lot that your calls will sound different outdoors and also at a distance like 20 to 40yards. So how do you know how your calling sounds at a distance. You can record them I guess, but it seems to me the calls will only sound as good as the recording equipment being used.

It was said that a gobbler caught at the right time or mood will come in to a squeaky fence. What about hens? If you are calling up hens or getting them to answer you are your calls sounding good enough then? Or are there times hens will come in or answer even a poor sounding call?

Same with jakes. These young turkeys have a reputation of coming in to poor hen calling. But what about gobbler talk? If you are using gobbler yelps and clucks and are getting jakes to respond, then are your gobbler calls good enough?
As far as this turkey thing......I know enough...to know enough...that I don't know enough

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 27th, 2012, 9:31 am

Hey Treeroster!
Yeah, well, it appears to us that you deserve the accolades. I'm looking forward to the day that we can share a hunting camp someplace...

Your calling questions are exactly the right ones, in my opinion. They are the same ones I had when I first met up with Ray Eye, many years ago now, and instantly knew he was the one who calls more like a real wild turkey than anyone in the world. I have sat maybe 10 yards away from him in the dark, as it begins to get light, and listened carefully as he calls to turkeys on the roost, and it is the most amazing thing to hear. Unlike virtually any other caller, if you close your eyes and listen, there is no way to distinguish between Ray and the real birds. It doesn't sound good, it doesn't sound "wow, that's realistic," it sounds like a real turkey doing it.
From that first trip on, I have probably asked him 5,000 questions about calling, and have spent years and years trying things out and listening to real birds out there where they live, and have come to believe completely in the following things:
* If real wild hens will answer your calling and come to it, you are doing some things right. Even during the breeding season, the hens are not as likely to be ruled by hormones and therefore are generally more clear-headed about what you sound like. If you can get them to react to your calling, and get them excited, then you know you are doing a lot of things right. Ray also taught me to tune calls (such as box calls) by bringing them out to the woods, along with a screwdriver or allen wrench, and play with the tones until the real hens open up and respond to them. He and his brother Marty have done this for people over the years, bringing a number of calls in a cardboard box out there, in advance of the season, and tuning them all so that wild hens will yap back at them, and they know those callers are good to go...
* I think you can record your calling, with the mic at a distance, and get a good sense for how it sounds. This is particularly true if there are real turkeys calling back and forth with you as it is recorded. You can compare what you sound like to what they sound like.
* Real turkeys don't always sound like some pure, perfect rendition of a yelp, or a string of cutting, or a series of excited puts. They sound like donkeys half the time. Real turkeys sound funky, if you expect them to sound musical all the time. There is a guttural tone to it, and their calls rise and fall both in volume and pitch. I know you know what I'm talking about. They make a wider variety of sounds than you think they do, especially when they get excited. For me, one of the great joys of turkey hunting is simply getting a hen excited and listening to what kinds of sounds she makes, and trying to imitate those same sounds as she is doing them. Ray has often told me that we should listen to the turkeys, and they will teach us how to call to them. He is right on the money with that, but you have to get to the point that you can make that happen without just get lucky enough to hear it happening on its own. I believe it takes dedication in terms of practice, so you can build your skills to the point that you can futz with your calling devices (especially mouth calls) and just kind of 'know' how to produce the sounds you hear. But then, it takes confidence, as we have been talking about in here, to make some excited turkey sounds out there, in an effort to get real turkeys excited and putting forth these sounds. Even when it comes to yelping, there is a huge difference between the mundane yelps a hen might make when it answers you for the first time, and what she does when she "opens up her mouth" in response to the exchange between the two of you. As this all gets going, it's also incredible to discover how many other turkeys were in the vicinity the entire time, and have now been inspired to join in on the conversation, and then comes all these black blobs through the woods and the next thing you know there are turkeys right by you. None of this will happen if you just go out there and sound like a monotone, machine-like caller that produces the same series of yelps every time!
* As you mention here, the real hens are the barometer, in spring, of how your calling sounds. If you can fool them into talking back with you, and get them to come, your calling sounds good enough! Also, as you suggest, if you get real toms to answer your gobbler yelping and come in, you are also doing extremely well with your calling! They know the difference between hen yelping and gobbler yelping, and if they come to it, you are doing things right.

One last thing: real turkeys call to each other every day of the year, and when they get excited, they sound excited. When you see this, you become satisfied that there is no such thing as a "call-shy" turkey. When you think about it, there is no logic behind the notion that a group of wild turkeys would suddenly stop responding to the calls of their own kind, and yet this remains one of the firm beliefs of a lot of spring turkey hunters, and that belief is used to criticize hunters who call a lot, and call excitedly, to turkeys. Because you are out there doing that, they say, you are screwing things up for everybody else. It's the biggest bunch of B.S. permeating hunting camps everywhere, and it feeds into the no-confidence thing we have been talking about. If you actually believe wild turkeys will "shut up" if you call to them, then you are going to become this silent, moping hunter who blames other people for the fact that you did not kill a turkey, which ruins the fun of the sport for everyone. I hope I live long enough to see that belief drained out of our sport, so we can all go out there (after practicing enough to sound real) and have a ton of fun calling up turkeys, any day of the year we feel like doing it.

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Treerooster
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby Treerooster » May 30th, 2012, 8:47 am

First off...Mark thaks so much for participating in the Celebrity Chat. The whole thing was a great idea and this thread was one of those juciy ones with lots of great turkey talk.

The last few years I have decided to really work on my calling. Not only how I sound, but the when and where and why of it all. I used to wait until a hen got cranked up and then I would respond to her excited calling. Kind of waited for a hen to give me "license" to get aggressive with my calls. Then one day it hit me...I could be the instigator of calling aggressive. It was one of those aha moments and I felt like such a dunce for not thinking of it before. Its amazing how some of our preconceived ideas can hold us back from learning new things.
As far as this turkey thing......I know enough...to know enough...that I don't know enough

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 30th, 2012, 4:09 pm

Hey again Treerooster!
You don't have to thank me for coming in here and talking with you guys... like I said, it has helped me get over the end of the season... plans for a last-day hunt have fallen away, so it looks like actual hunting days are over for me for this spring. I do plan on getting out, calling, and shooting video at a few points over the early summer... another thing that Ray Eye got me going on. It's incredibly fun, and shows you how callable turkeys are year around.

Your point about going into a hunting area and starting the turkeys up is something we hadn't talked about, but another really good insight. You don't have to wait for the turkeys to decide to get fired up. In fact, during much of the season, it's way more likely that you can get them cranked up, than that you will happen along when they're in the mood to party.

One thing that kind of surprised me is that nobody has voiced a dissenting opinion on the excited calling. Knowing that the sentiment against excited calling exists, I figured we'd get some challenges to what we've been saying in here. Anybody who wants to have a discussion about this subject is more than welcome; I am not one to shut my mind off during a good give and take.

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