Chat with Mark Strand

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MarkStrand
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 24th, 2012, 10:23 am

Hey Treerooster...
What an amazing post! Great photos, and love your thoughts on what turkey hunting means to you, and the places you have grown attached to through hunting turkeys in them. I can especially relate to your comments on your cabin in northern Wisconsin, because the cabin on Stoney Lake in west-central Minnesota is much the same for me. Like your place, we did not have turkeys out there until the fairly recent past, but in a relatively few years it has become a traditional hunt for me and numerous family members. My uncle Roger now owns the cabin and the property, which adjoins his place.
I have never hunted along the Platte River, but have heard others talk of it. Sounds like my kind of place, and what a cool banded bird you guys got! The photo brings back memories of similar river bottoms and sandbars I have hunted on over the years... and the wall tent shot speaks for itself, showing the grand places you can put up a tent camp and spend some days just walking out in the morning, hunting hard, covering ground, coming back in for breaks. What a lifestyle it is, and as my dad used to say, anybody who isn't pitching a tent someplace to hunt turkeys is missing the boat. My uncle Roger used to set up an old Baker style tent, with the hand-cut poles, and we would hang our birds from its cross members and eat victory pancakes made over an open fire.
I like your take on the last day of the season, sitting on the deck of your cabin and reflecting on the spring. I should work on that type of approach, rather than letting myself feel ripped off by the calendar.
I'll wait to hear from you...

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dewey
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby dewey » May 24th, 2012, 11:11 am

Great post treerooster and as always great pictures and thoughts on what turkey hunting is all about. Congratulations to your friend for harvesting that banded long spurred NE pig. I might be hitting you up for some general advice on where to go hunt merriams at in SD, NE, WY or MT next spring. As soon as this season was over I am already planning for the 2013 hunt.

As far as favorite places to hunt I am still fairly new to turkey hunting, 5 years, but I did have a lot of fun this spring in North central Kansas hunting Rio's in the rolling hills, wooded creek bottoms and generally wide open spaces.

Dewey
"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

       

MarkStrand
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 25th, 2012, 7:06 am

For all you late-season hunters out there, I have a question:
In a lot of cases, the woods can seem mighty quiet as we get to the end of May. You hear plenty of opinions that it's the weeks of hunting pressure that cause birds to pipe down, but it seems to me that you can get good response from calling, and it's much more a matter of being where turkeys are. I believe a lot of birds just slide away from the human pressure and relocate to places where there are fewer disturbances. For example, while hunting this past week, it seemed that when I got into the same places where turkeys were, I got good responses to calling. It has been hot and windy, and the turkeys were not vocal on their own, but could be fired up with some encouragement.
How does this compare with what you believe about late season and the birds' behavior?

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Gopherlongbeards
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby Gopherlongbeards » May 25th, 2012, 8:23 am

I would tend to agree with this. My biggest problem with non-vocal birds is the lack of confidence I have of birds being in an area. Doubt starts to creep into my mind pretty quick after a couple hours of walking or sitting and calling with no responses. I always find myself wondering if I'm wasting my time in an area with no birds.

MarkStrand
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 25th, 2012, 9:09 am

Hey Gopher...
I think you hit the nail on the head here; unless you KNOW that birds are in a certain area, on any day when you aren't hearing much in the way of turkey talk (or not hearing any), it seems like a low-percentage move to just sit there and hope something is going to happen. As long as your calling sounds realistic and you sound excited about being with other turkeys (hat tip, as always, to Ray Eye for hammering this point home), you will get a response if there is a response to be had. But where, at certain points in the breeding season, you might get a response and bring toms to you with calling that is less than realistic, you have very little chance of this during most other points in the spring or fall. Say whatever you want about the relative importance of calling to your turkey hunting fortunes, but I place a huge premium on it: if you sound real, you stand a good chance of calling up birds any day of the year. If you mainly make squeaky sounds, you stand a good chance during only a few prime days of the spring, when toms are fired up and hens are not hanging with the boys. With realistic calling, you can motivate turkeys to do things that they would not do without the vocal encouragement, and that makes the hunt hugely more exciting. It also keeps your mind engaged and confidence up, so you keep looking even when hours go by with nothing to show for it, bird-wise. So, especially late in the season, I find myself moving constantly, calling a lot, and believing that when I'm in the same place with a turkey that can be motivated, a response will come.
What does everybody else think?

charlie elk
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby charlie elk » May 25th, 2012, 9:20 am

treerooster is a class act. He really captures the essence of the moment in his pictures.

Mark wrote:In a lot of cases, the woods can seem mighty quiet as we get to the end of May. You hear plenty of opinions that it's the weeks of hunting pressure that cause birds to pipe down, but it seems to me that you can get good response from calling, and it's much more a matter of being where turkeys are. I believe a lot of birds just slide away from the human pressure and relocate to places where there are fewer disturbances. For example, while hunting this past week, it seemed that when I got into the same places where turkeys were, I got good responses to calling. It has been hot and windy, and the turkeys were not vocal on their own, but could be fired up with some encouragement.
How does this compare with what you believe about late season and the birds' behavior?

Hunters have a variety of opinions usually based on the view from their setup. I am no exception. So here's mine-
The turkeys are still there, unless something very dramatic has happened to the habitat and even then they may very well be back soon. Take a fire for instance, they leave fast but within a few days you find turkeys back in the area scrounging around. Fall hunting has taught me turkeys behave like most other game birds, under pressure they hunker down and stay put. I have flushed many unseen turkeys right at my feet. My first fall with a turkey dog demonstrated how many turkeys I had been walking right by. So in the spring I have no reason to believe the turkeys behave any different. Except at times they gobble to let us know where they are.

Many veteran fall hunters explained to me "gobbling spring turkeys are a crutch for the half time turkey hunters. These half timers are not fully developed hunters." When I first heard this I was insulted after all I killed turkeys every spring. Once the sting of the insult faded I reflected; I really only killed turkeys I found who gobbled, once they quit I thought they were gone and/or uncallable. My mind is now changed. Turkeys are always callable and almost always still there, it is my skill level and understanding of turkeys that will or won't make the difference.
I am not an expert, my turkey knowledge base has a long way to go. In order to have an open mind it helps to get rid of the preconceived notions about turkeys becoming uncallable, call shy, over pressured, unhuntable, the weather is to this or to that, gone from the area or they've been too educated by other hunters.... Well every hunter can fill in their blank here. ;)

sumac setup with turkey 12292010.JPG
sumac setup with turkey 12292010.JPG (101.8 KiB) Viewed 707 times

No matter the season or the weather the turkeys are there and callable.
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

MarkStrand
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 25th, 2012, 9:53 am

Hi Charlie!
You are making some excellent points here. For sure, there will always be quiet turkeys, some of which are callable, especially toms that are not dominant personalities. Those are the same birds that do gobble during the peak times, but often quietly, trying to let you hear them, but hoping that other toms don't hear them. That gets to the heart of what I was offering up as my own hunting strategy, where I will hang in there if I know, or at least strongly suspect, that turkeys are still using an area, despite weeks of regular hunting pressure in a confined area. In a lot of cases, though, it seems like some things do change, and they don't all have to do with hunting pressure. For sure, the development of new food sources cause shifts of location. As a prime example, the place I was hunting last week is a classic old-growth forest, butting up against a network of pastures kept trimmed by cows. When the calves are born, the neighboring farmer sets up feeding stations that concentrate the cows and calves and create a lot of spilled grains in one spot. The combination of open terrain in the pastures (whereas the grasses and other ground cover have grown up in the spots we hunt) and the easy food definitely draws turkeys over into that area, putting them on land we cannot hunt. Earlier in the spring, a much higher percentage of the local turkeys are focused in the old-growth forest, making this a better early spot.
So when I'm hunting there late in the spring, I don't sit on spots that would be high-percentage in April. I keep moving until I strike a bird, knowing that I'm dealing with fewer turkeys, on a day to day basis, than I would a few weeks earlier. And I have seen very similar dynamics in other places.
I really like what you said about fall turkey hunting, because that's another world and one where good calling is demanded. This is another example of an aspect of the sport that Ray Eye has shown me up close. His ability to call fall gobblers on purpose is amazing, and he always wonders out loud why anybody would spook the birds away first, then try to call them up. Honestly, it's from hunting so much with him that I have come to believe that calling works any day, all year long, and that you can go into the woods with confidence that you can get birds talking back to you. Just as with fishing, where your biggest trouble comes if you let the fish intimidate you into believing they are impossible to catch, I believe with turkey hunting the biggest obstacle is going into the woods thinking you will have a tough time calling up birds. If you call tentatively, if you hunt tentatively and/or without confidence, that is exactly the kind of reaction you are going to get from turkeys. They will pretty much ignore you, then just get out of the way when you come by making too much noise, and you never know they were there.

MarkStrand
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 25th, 2012, 9:55 am

Oh,and I forgot to add: I totally agree with you about treerooster. He is the real deal. He hunts all over the place, and is a good writer and photographer. He wrote an article about how he sets up his turkey camp that is really good. Can't remember where it appeared, but it was on a blog.

charlie elk
 
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Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby charlie elk » May 25th, 2012, 11:23 am

mark strand wrote:So when I'm hunting there late in the spring, I don't sit on spots that would be high-percentage in April. I keep moving until I strike a bird, knowing that I'm dealing with fewer turkeys, on a day to day basis, than I would a few weeks earlier. And I have seen very similar dynamics in other places.

Agreed. By "there" I did not necessarily mean the same setup as early season, the birds could be at the neighbors, across the valley etc. Most likely still around not too far away.

MarkStrand wrote:I really like what you said about fall turkey hunting, because that's another world and one where good calling is demanded. This is another example of an aspect of the sport that Ray Eye has shown me up close. His ability to call fall gobblers on purpose is amazing, and he always wonders out loud why anybody would spook the birds away first, then try to call them up.

Ray is right you can call up fall turkeys without scaring them off. I called in the 3 fall gobblers in my avatar without a breakup, except the survivors flew across the valley at each shot and had to be called back across to me.(I must credit Steve Hickoff for teaching me how.)
However, there is a time and place for breaking up flocks prior to calling during spring, fall and winter. This is a point I would dearly love to discuss with Ray. Almost got my chance back when Outdoor Life selected me to host Ray in WI for his Chancing Spring tour. But due to Wisconsin's crazy restrictive licensing scheme he could not lock in a tag, unit and time far enough in advance for planning. :(

MarkStrand wrote:Oh,and I forgot to add: I totally agree with you about treerooster. He is the real deal. He hunts all over the place, and is a good writer and photographer. He wrote an article about how he sets up his turkey camp that is really good. Can't remember where it appeared, but it was on a blog.

That might be over on http://turkeyhuntpublicland.com/blogs/?paged=2 If I saw the same one to which you refer.
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

MarkStrand
 
Posts: 40
Joined: February 23rd, 2012, 10:00 am

Re: Chat with Mark Strand

Postby MarkStrand » May 25th, 2012, 3:29 pm

Hey Charlie...
Yeah, I thought that you were talking about nearby spots when we were discussing the notion that turkeys will move away from where they feel disturbed. That's what I am thinking, too, and what it seems like I have observed while out there. That the birds will, indeed, spill on over to the neighbors, what we call "the other gentleman's property," meaning that they are now turkeys that we have to convince back over on to our side of the fence. My sense is the same as yours, that they don't go any farther than they have to, to find what they need (food and cover, knowing that water, in most cases, is not crucial).

Congratulations on calling up so many fall gobblers! That remains one of the most difficult challenges for turkey hunters, and something to be extremely proud of. I have never met Steve, but I certainly know of his hunting accomplishments and we have been in the same email threads numerous times. He does a lot of fall (and spring) turkey hunting, so his words come from actual in the field experiences.

I think I know what you are referring to when it comes to a time and place for breaking up flocks, such as choosing to run a hen off, flushing hens off the roost so they are separated from their gobblers, etc. I still have some personal reservations about doing that, but it is effective and I have done it myself! It tends to make me feel guilty afterwards, like I shouldn't step in there to that degree, but that is probably just me thinking about it too much. After all, those birds have been together plenty, and will find a way to get back together after I'm done (unless I kill the tom). But, hey, what are you there for, right?

That is too bad that you didn't get a chance to hunt with Ray, because it's fun just to watch him in action, see what he chooses to do, then pepper him with questions about his decision-making process. He pretends to hate being asked questions, but I suspect he secretly likes it.

You are right on with the link to treerooster's turkey camp article. That's the one I was thinking of, too, and anybody who hasn't read it should take a minute and do so. He takes clear, well-composed photos of his setup, and you will love his creative solutions, many of which you can tell he built himself.

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