Chat with Mark Strand

The country's best-known hunters and callers are here to answer your questions. Ask them turkey hunting tips, or just chat about their favorite hunts.
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Brian Lovett
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Chat with Mark Strand

Postby Brian Lovett » May 14th, 2012, 1:18 pm

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In our final installment of "At the Roost," you can talk turkey with well-known writer and frequent Turkey & Turkey Hunting contributor Mark Strand. Mark is one of the most avid and accomplished hunters in the turkey industry, and he just fulfilled a lifetime dream by taking his ocellated turkey in Mexico. He'll be on hand May 15 through 25 to answer your questions about calling, strategies and anything else turkey. Join the conversation!

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 15th, 2012, 9:19 am

Is everybody done turkey hunting for the year?
I'm headed out again about lunch time on Thursday, driving to the old family hunting cabin in the woods in west-central Minnesota, near the town of New London. In this place, turkey hunting is a fairly new addition, because when we were growing up, it was ducks and deer. These days, there are also a lot of geese around, as there are in many parts of Minnesota. In New London, which is just a few miles down the road, is McHale's restaurant, one of the all-time great Victory Pancakes spots... it's the place where I took my dad on a cold, rainy day years ago, and we broke the rule that you had to kill a turkey before you could have 'victory' pancakes. We ate the pancakes ahead of time, the sun came out, and we called up five big toms right to him just before the noon closure.
Because of Parkinson's, Dad could not hold the gun up well, or aim it by himself, so I held his barrel and moved it based on his aiming instructions, and he made good on the shot, a big puff of feathers and the bird did the bicycle legs thing on its back, and it was maybe the biggest turkey he ever shot, and I still think about that day every time I eat at McHale's. This weekend, I'll be joined by my daughter, Samantha (15), my wife, Jill, my uncle, Roger, and his son, Bob. It will be good times no matter what happens with respect to the hunting... and I will pop into McHale's a few times for coffee and pancakes and hook up to the wi-fi to see if any of you are in here...
Wishing you all the best late season hunts ever...
-- Mark

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby Gopherlongbeards » May 15th, 2012, 9:58 am

Welcome Mark,

Sounds like some great traditions you have going there. Here's hoping your hunt goes well. I have 2 tags left. Heading out on my annual Black Hills trip this Thursday-Sunday, and might get a chance to jump across the river to unit 4 in WI on Monday/Tuesday. As long as we're talking about various hunts and traditions, where is your favorite place to hunt and post hunt tradition? (Guessing it might be your family cabin and victory pancakes). I'd have to go with the northern Black Hills of SD, with post hunt celebratory libations at Crow Peak Brewery in Spearfish. Good luck to you this week.

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 15th, 2012, 4:02 pm

Hey Gopher... I am a Minnesota resident, too...
It's so hard for me to think of one or a few places as being my favorite spots to hunt turkeys, because there are so many of them. I love the Ozarks in southern Missouri, southeastern Minnesota, western Wisconsin, Texas, the prairie units of South Dakota, anywhere along the Niobrara River in Nebraska, the Loess Hills in Iowa, and the Black Hills are amazing just to look at, whether you have any turkeys going or not. There are others... I know I'm forgetting important ones... and, honestly, after spending time in the Yucatan listening to ocellated turkeys sing, and seeing them out in open fields, and feeling the rush of that big blue head getting closer and closer, I have a huge soft spot in my heart for that hunt now. Originally, I had been thinking of that as a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but I don't think I will be happy only doing it once.
On the subject of post-hunt traditions, yes, Victory Pancakes is right up there... another one involves an old Top Gun hat... a long time ago, when Federal came out with Top Gun ammunition, the company had black hats made up with a Top Gun logo. Somehow, I got one, and in ever turkey camp for years, we used to make a big deal out of the hat. Anybody who shot a bird that day would get to wear it all night at camp... if two people killed birds, they handed it back and forth. Didn't matter where we were, the hat came along. Whoever earned it first would then present it to the next person to earn it, and we always shot photos of the hat ceremony. At the end of the trip, we would essentially vote on who got the best bird, and it didn't always mean it had to be the biggest one or have the longest beard or spurs. It would also be judged on the context of the hunt, and how well the hunter told the story of the kill. Whoever came out on top using this always-changing set of rules would take the hat home for the rest of that year... and was responsible for bringing it back to the first camp the next spring. Our group included my dad, my uncle Roger (with whom I will share the camp this weekend), and my dad's best friend, Gus Stoesz. The four of us traveled all over for years.
A new post-hunt celebration from the Yucatan involves the guide using about a 30-inch machete to crack open an ice-cold Corona for the hunters.
Hey, good luck out in South Dakota, and in Wisconsin... hope you get to visit the Crow Peak Brewery in Spearfish. Sounds like a spot I might have to add to my lifetime list...

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 16th, 2012, 3:30 pm

I had a great meeting today with a guy who is an accomplished fisherman, and hunts for other animals, but has never hunted turkeys before. We were doing some filming and brainstorming concepts out on Lake Minnetonka on the west side of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) area, and the subject of turkey hunting came up. Can't remember who brought it up, but it might have been me. So it turns out that Kolt (and that's his real name) has not hunted turkeys and wants to do something about that... so we will likely be taking care of that little problem during the last week in May. It pays to ask everyone you know whether they need to go turkey hunting, because it extends your season, lets you get out there when otherwise you would have a harder time explaining why are going again.

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby Treerooster » May 17th, 2012, 2:52 pm

Still traveling and hunting now. I am in N Wis and am on my phone. Too hard to post much now but hope to be home and at a computer before the 25th.
As far as this turkey thing......I know know enough...that I don't know enough

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby dewey » May 17th, 2012, 10:23 pm

I managed to harvest a 2 year old in MN during season C and also got to harvest my first Rio in North central KS this spring so that was a lot of fun so my season is now over. Just waiting until October for the fall season to start. Mark correct me if I am wrong but didn't you write an article in T&TH magazine about Victory pancakes? I think I may have read it on the beach in Cancun. I am also a MN turkey hunter and have been doing it near Detroit Lakes for the last 5 years. It is amazing to see how the population has exploded in the last 5 years where I hunt. Do you ever go to any NWTF banquets? I would like to get into it but I would like to know dome people at the banquet before going.

If you get a chance could you post a link to your Ocellated story and pictures? I personally would love to hear the story and see the pictures as I am sure others would as well.

Good luck this weekend Mark it looks like it will be pretty warm.

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." --Mahatma Gandhi

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."--F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer


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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 18th, 2012, 10:47 am

Hi Dewey, and thanks for taking time to write...
Yes, good memory by you, I did write an essay called Victory Pancakes, and you will never guess where I am writing this from: McHale's restaurant in New London, Minnesota, from the booth where I just ate Victory Pancakes "ahead of time," given that the turkeys kicked my butt this morning. I was in the woods by about 4:30 this morning, and hunted an entire long ridge that has been very good to me in the past... and I think I might have heard one gobble in response to my calling, but couldn't be sure. Then, of course, when I got back to the cabin, my wife and daughter (who chose to sleep in) reported that a bird had been gobbling good near the cabin just before I got back.
Oh, well... at least we got rid of the silly rule that you have to shoot a turkey before you can have victory pancakes... and they were good, too! It's going to hit 90 degrees today, but I'm going back out there to try to change my fortunes... the girls are going to wait until tomorrow.
Yes, I am a member of the East Metro Full Fans chapter of NWTF, in Woodbury,'s a great bunch of guys and the banquet is fun. Do you live up near Detroit Lakes? If you're in the metro, this would be a great chapter to hook up with.
On the ocellated hunt, Brian Lovett has cleared me to write a feature for T&TH, and I'm already working on it. Deadline to be determined, and the article will appear in one of next year's issues. That was one of my favorite turkey hunts and adventures of all time: this particular group has amazing guides who call to the birds, and we hunted edges of agricultural fields, where we could see the birds often. My bird was visible for quite a distance, his big blue head rising and dropping out of view in the "sorgo" field... my signal to shoot came from Ray Eye, who was on the video camera. When he had the bird framed up we took the shot, and captured the kill on camera. Ray is working on some things with the video that will appear in his future seminars and DVDs. I went down there kind of thinking it would be a trip where I hopefully checked off the ocellated turkey on my lifetime list, but instead I came away really wanting to go back again soon.

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 18th, 2012, 10:52 am

Hey Treerooster!
I remember our discussions from another forum in here... like you, I am still out hunting, pinned up north where there are still a few weeks to go in the season. What area do you hunt in northern Wisconsin? Maybe we should hook up and hunt together some time... I have a Wisconsin tag for zone 4, I believe, in western part of the state... but would love to see some new territory. I get a major kick out of hunting turkeys in places I haven't been before...
Having said that, it's fun to hunt out of my old family hunting cabin at Stoney Lake, too... and it's time for me to get back out there now. Hopefully, I'll be back here in McHale's eating victory pancakes for real and will check the forum again...
Let's hear from more of us who are still out there doing it before we hit June...

Myakka Chuck
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby Myakka Chuck » May 18th, 2012, 1:56 pm

Hey, Mark,

I’ve always read about hunting ocellated turkeys in the thick Yucatan jungles and shooting them out of trees, occasionally on the ground, which didn’t sound like all that much fun to me. Hunting them from ag fields sounds a lot better, especially if they come to calls. Can’t wait to see the Ray’s video. Was it different from hunting other sub-species?

Gopherlongbeards: One of my favorite hunting memories took place one morning in the southern Black Hills near Custer. I was on top of a ridge facing a gorgeous sunrise reflecting off of a pink quartz boulder the size of a VW bug, while a gobbler was hammering away as he worked his way down the next ridge to an open meadow in between us. I’m not an openly religious man, but I felt the presence of God and was so caught up in the moment that I lingered too long and let the bird beat me to the meadow, messing up any good chance I had of tagging him. But I didn’t really mind.

Not all good hunting memories involve a kill. Just most of them.



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