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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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby dewey » May 18th, 2012, 2:44 pm

Myakka Chuck wrote:Not all good hunting memories involve a kill. Just most of them.

Very well said!!!

MarkStrand wrote: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.

Mark I actually live in Crystal, South of 694 and between 169 & 100, and I would love to hook up with a NWTF chapter. If you could PM me with some details I would try my best to attend a NWTF banquet. Also was any certain reason you are waiting until season G to go hunting in MN? i.e. other hunts going on or were you unsuccessful in the drawing? What do you think of the new zones this year? I personally love the new zones! With the previous zone layout I had accessible land in two different zones which always made hunting tough because no matter what side you were on you always saw and heard birds from the other side.

Good luck on the hunt this weekend and try to stay cool.

"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 21st, 2012, 2:33 pm

Hey MC...
Yeah, I had heard and read those same things... essentially warnings... about ocellated turkey hunting. People often came back glad that they had an ocellated in the bag, but feeling unsatisfied by the experience. It's hard to rip on the traditional hunting style, because that region is laced with an awful lot of thick jungle, and my sense of it is that the guides and outfitters were coming up with the best methods they could think of... the word is that, if you allow the turkeys to fly down in the morning and you are only hunting thick jungle cover, you will be lucky to lay eyes on those turkeys again that day. That's no doubt where the method of tying off a string leading to a roost shooting spot was born.
However, the guys at Snook Inn (where we went) have developed a modern hunting style that takes advantage of the fact that the ocellated turkeys like to work the edges (and sometimes the middle) of available agricultural fields. The guides carve out a natural blind at the very edge of the jungle, and you sit in a nice chair with backrest, watching and listening for turkeys. Ray Eye had prepared us well for what to expect, telling us about the field hunting (he had been there twice before), and after seeing it for myself, it is absolutely true that the ocellated is a wild turkey in every sense of the word. In fact, if anything, it is warier than our turkeys. Anything out of place, sight or sound, brings the "bong-bong" sound, as Ray calls it, the ocellated alarm putt, and they are gone.
And, by the way, I really liked what you said about "not all good hunting memories involve a kill." The older I get, the more I see that this is true. While I'm out there, I'm really trying to kill a bird, but have learned that it's OK if we don't. As a prime example, I hunted hard this weekend with my wife, Jill, and my daughter, Samantha, through a lot of heat, some very high winds, some serious rain and hail, and we had a tough time getting anything going. Three times we had turkeys gobbling good and in tight, but couldn't see them to shoot and eventually they wandered off. It would have been better if we had gotten a shot, but in the end what I will remember is the nights sitting around in the cabin, of the days out in the woods (although the girls want to forget the ticks and caterpillars), and how much fun we had. Late season turkey hunts have been a bit tough out there lately, but it is one of my favorite places to visit, and we are already drawing up plans for next spring.

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 21st, 2012, 2:50 pm

Hey Dewey...
I'm going to check with our regional director, Tom Glines, to nail down a chapter near you in Crystal... my email is being updated right now, so I have to wait for that to finish before I can use it.
Yes, we waited until late May to hunt Minnesota because I had so many other trips going on elsewhere, not the least of which was the adventure down to Mexico for the ocellated. That trip took extra time to plan and pack for, and we were gone about a week. Man, was it worth it! The food was really good, the guides were the best, hearing the singing was amazing, seeing those turkeys made my hunting life richer, and Jorge and his son, Roberto (the owners) are wonderful people to know. I miss that place every day, and think about some of the vocal toms we heard...
I, too, like the new zone system for Minnesota. If anything, I would like to see us just open it up completely, but realize we are a ways off from that. I was in favor of making fewer, larger zones right away when it was discussed, and am really happy they went ahead with that plan. I like the over-the-counter tag program, too, where you can buy a license for any of the final four time periods, and I like the archery option as well, where you can buy a tag and use it during all four of the final time periods... think I'm right about that. It's all about opportunity, and it's nice to be a little less vulnerable to bad weather. With the way the system is now, you could actually wait until you see the 5-day forecast, choose a week, get a tag, and go. It has never been like that in Minnesota.

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby Gopherlongbeards » May 21st, 2012, 4:20 pm

Hey Mark,

Sorry to hear you didn't pack home a gobbler this weekend, I struck out in SD as well. But as has already been discussed, you don't need to kill one to have a good time. The weather out in Spearfish was gorgeous, bird numbers were down but we still managed to find a few each day, and 2 of our 4 hunters bagged birds so victory celebrations at Crow Peak were not in danger. I had a tom in range 3 out of the 4 days, but never had a good shot opportunity. As mentioned the weather was perfect for covering ground, and I got to walk a lot of beautiful country. We saw plenty of bonus wildlife (a few elk, a bighorn, and a lion) as well.

I am also a big fan of the new zone structure in MN. Anything that increases opportunity and flexibility in my hunt I am generally in favor of. As the MN flock continues to grow I hope we can move to a system more like WI, where you can purchase multiple tags in a season (even if you were only allowed one filled tag in MN, I wish they would let you hunt the late OTC seasons if you were unsuccessful. a poor week weather wise can really ruin your season if you only have a few days a week to hunt the way it stands now)

I have been looking into joining the NWTF and will give the east metro chapter a look.

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby palongbeard12 » May 21st, 2012, 4:43 pm

Hey Mark, I was wondering if you had any advice for someone trying to get into the outdoor writing industry. Thanks for all the great articles and essays over the years. I really enjoyed "When April feels a World Away" and "Joining Up" from Turkey and Turkey Hunting.

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 22nd, 2012, 10:51 am

Hey PA...
I do have feelings about what it takes to break in to the outdoor writing business and do well at it. (Thank you, by the way, for your kind words about the essays in T&TH; they are some of my favorite things to write every year.)
It can be kind of a long story, but I believe in working hard at making your writing as strong and creative as possible. When people read anything, and this is certainly true of outdoor articles, they tend to "make little movies in their heads" based on the words you use to describe a place, to explain an idea for a hunting strategy, etc. Rather than settling for the first string of words that come to mind, it's important to strive for accuracy with your language. There is usually one or a few 'best' words to most accurately articulate what you are trying to say, that will help bring the reader right out there with you. There are a million ways to go about saying anything, but once you settle on an approach and are in the middle of a sentence, there usually is a 'best' word for each intended meaning.

So from a mechanical/creative standpoint, that is what I strive for. Everybody works differently, but I do best in the mornings and when there are few distractions. I set aside the morning hours as writing time, and the rest of the day for everything else (photo and video editing, phone calls, emails, etc.) You have to know yourself and what kind of environment you need to create to do your best work, but then you just have to do it regularly. One thing to avoid is waiting for 'inspiration' to get you going. You have to just start each day and see where it goes. If you block off time to write, something will come at some point. You might struggle for a few hours and then have a big burst and do some good stuff for 20 minutes. That's how it goes, and you never know each day until you get started.
There's much more to it, including the business side of selling articles, and if you want to hit me with more specific questions, I would be happy to toss out my thoughts, whatever they're worth. It's a competitive business, but what isn't, right? And there is always room for more voices.
Other keys are being reliable (you cannot ever miss a deadline, for example), and being at least somewhat handy with a camera. Outdoor writers, unlike writers in some other fields, are typically relied upon to provide at least some photos or other art to help illustrate the things they write.
The bottom line is that I do believe writers can be 'made' with good instruction, if they are hard workers. In fact, I am working on a plan to offer a course in developing writing talent, becoming proficient with cameras, and being successful on the business side of outdoor communications.

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 22nd, 2012, 10:58 am

For Gopher and Dewey...
Here is some contact information for NWTF chapters in the Twin Cities metro area:
For East Metro Full Fans (Woodbury), contact Kevin Hurst at He will let you know the specifics of upcoming events, including next spring's banquet. We typically have the banquet at the Oak Marsh golf club on the border between Woodbury and Oakdale, right off I-94, usually in late March. It's a great time... and if you want to get hooked up and be part of the committee, it would be great to have you!

For the Crystal, Minnesota area, Tom Glines reports that there are two good options. Here is Tom's reply to me:
As far as Crystal – West Metro (Mike Bauer – or Twin Toms (Mike Gustafson 612-708-4704 email or (Ron Oas 612-270-9635). Tell him to email or contact both and attend a meeting with both of them to see where he fits the best.

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby turkey junky » May 23rd, 2012, 11:52 am

hey there mr. mark strand how are you...

id like to start of by saying i have enjoyed you articles in this magazine & B4 i got into the T&TH mag i read your articles in the MN outdoor news along with gary clancy & scott bestul what can i say i like reading articles about turkey write n hunters that live in/from MN like my self... i live in inver grove heights MN on a small farm surrounded by housing develupments im sure you have seen urban sprawl in your time as well being from MN also it is sad to see but hey i have turkey living all around me & roosting in my cotton wood trees every now & deer all around so...???

any way yes i was still out just got back from a NE trip wear i explored some of you fav grounds along the niobrara them hybrids are fun to hunt... i also have hunted near some of your SE MN turkey ground i grew up hunting turkey & trout fishing as much as i could down in & around houston/caledonia areas of the state... i also hunt with my father with medical issues & respect all the storys & hunts you share with your father we just got back from our trip & we did not tag a bird but im more excited that my dad shot twice once at a stud merriams tom out in the ridge & another near the niobrara that time a jake he was a little worked up so he miss judged distance but if we did not get excited then why hunt write??? my father got me into this great sport & i do my part to re turn the favor & take him to new great turkey destinations each yr shoot he was in on the 2nd ever MN hunt & shot a MN MERRIAMS gobbler out of the whitewater/elba area of the state remember when we still had merriams in SE MN!!!??? man times change!!! same with the NIOBRARA there was once almost all easterns now there are mostly hybrid or merriams/rio looking birds!!!???

we did get birds in he did get birds in KS WI public land & MN private land so he had a great spring season!!! i was able to tag OK,KS,WI birds & should of had a niobrara tom on monday!!! but 4 birds is enuff!!! all public land so im happy...

my family & many other MN hunters in the field have talked about the new zones in MN & them make n the last 4 seasons unlimited in numbers but not if you drawn a tag & such... & we also talk about how many tags used to go un issued B4 the change & how they could of sold them tags to willing hunters instead of make n the tags unlimited so id have to say im not a big fan of the change & i guess most i talk to are old school & dont like change... lol i just wish we could go back to the way it was & then MNDNR would sell the un issued tags to folks who want to buy them being that they said already that it was OK to harvest X amount of birds & them tags would just go un-sold any way!!!??? also they say if you drew a tag for another season that you cant buy a unlimited in number tag for the last 4 seasons??? thought they were unlimited in number???

any way good chat & happy i have the chance to chat with you at all thanks much for all your articles & for let n me bend your ear a little...

we do belong to the NWTF but not a chapter member...

also im just about to go re read you "wear dose the spring go" article that i always try to read B4 & after the season i will be kick n & screaming all the way to the next seasons opener!!! lol take care & good hunting to you...

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 23rd, 2012, 4:00 pm

Hey Turkey Junky!
I had noticed, while looking through other forum entries, that you are from Inver Grove Heights. I have noticed, too, that there are quite a few of us who live in Minnesota (or other northern states with limited tag availability/short local seasons) who travel to hunt turkeys. Once you get the fever and need to be out there with turkeys throughout the spring (and fall) season, the only thing stopping you is loading stuff up in the truck and being willing to drive, right?
Great going, taking your dad hunting after he would have difficulty going by himself. And I'm glad that he got so excited that he missed a few of his shots this year... I feel the same way you do about all that. My dad, and his friend Gus Stoesz, both felt they were a burden on me during their later years of hunting, because they required a lot of help. But they will never know that their absence in our hunting camps now is the real burden. I miss them so much, and their enthusiasm for the sport, and life.
They were among the few license holders back in 1978, the first modern Minnesota season, and my dad shot a Merriam's gobbler down in the Whitewater area. We all did for a while after that... I've had many turkey hunters look at me like I'm nuts when I talk about how we used to have Merriam's turkeys in Minnesota, that they were the first birds we were allowed to hunt, and that transplanting of easterns came after that.
There's no doubt some very old Merriam's blood still kicking around down in Southeastern Minnesota (although it would have no impact on appearance, I'm sure, after this many generations). My feeling is that there is all kinds of turkey blood coursing through many "wild" populations, owing to yard birds that breed with wild birds, escape and live with wild birds, etc. Those turkeys of the prairie units in the Dakotas, for example, have every kind of turkey blood ever created in them. No matter what their genetic makeup, turkeys that live in the wild are wild turkeys, and they're all fantastic to me.
It reminds me of how they weren't going to transplant any "true wild turkeys" in the Minnesota River valley (near Mankato) until they killed ALL the "tame" turkeys that were living there, so they wouldn't interbreed with the pure wild birds and screw up the genetics of the flock. The "tame" turkeys proved to be superb at eluding the best efforts of the eradicators, then came an official announcement that they had gotten them all, and it was safe to release wild birds from their cardboard boxes into the now "turkey-less" river valley. I still kind of chuckle when I think about what the actual genetic makeup of that local flock is. They all look like wild easterns, act like wild easterns, and remain difficult to get close to on purpose.

Sounds like you had an amazing season this year, with plenty of scenic travels, and congratulations for digging in and having success on public land... I'm honored that you read one of my stories every year before and after your season, and I mean that. I am still the worst crybaby of all when the last day of the last season is upon us, and I do feel that depression that sets in for a while when it's over for the year. Maybe it's largely exhaustion, because I do feel better in a couple weeks, after getting more sleep.
Thanks again for writing... it was fun tossing things back and forth. Good hunting to you, too... soon we will be forced to go fishing! As the late Ed Zern would have said, we now have to go fishing... because the turkey season is closed.

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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby Treerooster » May 24th, 2012, 8:17 am

Hey Mark good to see you posting here again. Love your writing and anyone suffering from turkey withdrawl should check out your e-book "Turkey Camp". Could be just what the doctor ordered. :D

Sorry to join the party late but I just got back from Wis the other day and had no internet access except on my phone.

There has been talk of places and tradition earlier in this thread. While I do a lot of traveling every turkey season to new places, I have 3 places I love to hunt:

One is along the S Plate River. This is an area that requires one to draw a tag. I don't draw every year but I do manage to get myself turkey hunting on the river by helping others that did draw a tag. This year I helped my friend James get a bird on the river. I introduced James to turkey hunting when he was 59. He is now 70 and has been hooked on turkey hunting since that first year. We had a very special hunt ending with a nice 1 3/8 spurred gobbler bagged. The icing on the cake was that the bird was banded!


Another place I love to hunt is really not a place I can direct you to. Its many places. It is the Ponderosa Pine hills where the Merriams turkey roams. I love pitching my wall tent in those hills with nothing to do but hunt the hard gobbling Merriams. I usually hunt several states in the Ponderosa Pine every year and hunted NE & MT this year. Always a good feeling heading back to camp with a bird over your shoulder and the story that goes along with it.


My 3rd place is my cabin in Northern Wisconsin. This has also grown in to my traditional last hunt for the season. The cabin is really there for the ruffed grouse I love to hunt, but now there is the bonus of spring turkey hunting. The area my cabin is in is not the best for turkey. The winters can really knock down the population. Its the place that attracts me though. The thick forest of the area that I have been visiting since 1972 when I was 15 years old. On the last morning of my turkey hunting I always have a cup of coffee on the porch and reflect back on the season that has just past and also some past seasons. The cabin seems to help bring the memories back more vividly. And on some lucky last days I have a gobbler hanging by me to not only remember, but also see, feel, smell, and touch.


Mark I will send you a PM soon about maybe hunting together.
As far as this turkey thing......I know know enough...that I don't know enough


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