Wall Tent Turkey Camp Presented by onX Hunt

A Q & A with Jason Matzinger on his annual turkey camp

Across the badlands of Montana, to the vast wilds of Alaska, Jason Matzinger has hunted everything from elk, deer, and pronghorn, to bighorn sheep moose and grizzlies. Every spring, however he changes gears and gathers a group of close friends, in Montana’s Missouri River Breaks, to enjoy the release of winter’s deathgrip and the sound of spring turkeys.

onX got the chance to speak with Matzinger, before he headed out to his turkey camp, to ask him more about his annual spring gathering, the challenge of spring turkeys in the breaks and the memories he makes with some of his closest hunting friends.

 

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QWhat inspired you to make a film about turkey camp?

A– Really what inspired me was just wanting to tell such a unique story about how the Wild Turkey has brought a group of friends & family together year after year in the badlands of Montana. It’s not your normal turkey hunt and I wanted to capture that…

QWhen was the first turkey camp?

A– The first time i ever went down there, was around 2005 or 2006 with my dad and his friend. We hunted that area in the past, but never for turkey.

QHow did that one go?

A– That one went great, we killed three turkeys in two days. I took one with my bow and my dad and his friend took theirs with shotguns. We were blown away by the opportunity that was right under our noses the whole time.

The first set up we did on my bird went just like you see on TV He came right in gobbling, it was awesome.

Sunshining off the iridescent feathers of a Tom turkey

QWhy are the birds so difficult to hunt out in the breaks?

A– They are just cagey breaks birds. Its rugged country to try and survive in and the land is much more open than traditional turkey land. That means they can use their eyes a lot more and use the topography to spot danger. It doesn’t seem they have one roost tree they go to every night.

Even when we do find a roost we have stories of guys getting under the tree before dawn and there is no birds in the tree come daylight.

Often because of the topography they don’t ever even see a decoy.

There’s very few traditional turkey hunting methods that works. It’s a lot like spot and stalk deer hunting.

The only way we usually get turkeys is to call and be aggressive.

What works like clockwork everywhere else hasn’t worked a single time at this camp.

QYou’re predominantly a big game hunter, so what’s it like chasing these birds?

A-Its kinda nice, because it’s a hunt where you don’t have to kill yourself. We go hard for spring bear and that is grueling, rugged terrain. What’s nice about the turkey hunt is its low stress. It’s just relaxing to get out there.

Jason Matzinger glassing a hillside

QHow does it feel being back in the woods after a long winter?

A– It’s great, I always spend a lot of time at shows, traveling and at airports. A lot of computer time when I am home. It’s just really rejuvenating when I do get back out there and get that fresh air. Sleeping in the tents at night and walking through the woods for the first time without gaters and long underwear on. It’s just what you need after a long winter to let you know, brighter days are coming.

You don’t know if you’re going to see a newborn calf elk out there, spot a shed or shoot a turkey. It’s a game rich environment and its great to experience that for the first time that year.

QHow many people are headed to camp this year?

A– 10-12 people in camp this year. That’s half of the fun at camp (all the people).

QWhat was your success rate like last year?

A– We ended up taking two turkeys and got really close to a couple others. 2 out of 8 people got birds and that’s higher than normal. There’s been several years where nobody got one and that’s more usual. Everyone is always seeing them though and getting close, but getting them on the ground is another thing.

Jason and Jana Waller admiring turkey success

QWhat’s the vibe like at camp?

A– Its all for one, one for all. No one takes it too serious, everyone has fun and it’s a lot of laughs. I designed it originally as kind of a team building exercise

It’s about camaraderie and sharing experiences and wild game from the year before. Everyone is appreciated and you can make it what you want. If you want to be the guy who wakes up at 4 am go for it if you want to sleep in, good for you. Its meant to be fun and relaxing and that’s what we make of it.

QIt is spring in Montana, so what are those challenges like?

A– There’s always this balance when I come up with the date, obviously the closer we can get it to opening day the better the toms will respond, but you also run the risk of setting up a camp and dealing with the snow for days. Then you deal with that and the melt and it turns everything into gumbo and slop. That’s the challenge we face with the camp, I’d say 90% of the time we get fair weather, but our hunt two years ago was sloppy gumbo and the only person who could get out of camp was my buddy who brought his side by side. It’s spring in the breaks, so you never know if you’re gonna wake up with birds singing and 72 degrees, or snow on the ground and gumbo.

QWho is the best turkey hunter/turkey caller in camp?

A– Oh geez that’s like your girlfriend asking if she looks good in those jeans. Tim (Endsley) has definitely hunted more birds than any of us and been around more of the legends. He’s killed more birds than any of us, just not in our camp.

Check out more turkey action, by following onX Hunt’s Facebook and Instagram pages all spring. Also be sure to explore the new NWTF Wild Turkey Records Layer free on the Hunt App.


Learn more about Jason Matzinger and his cross country hunting adventures.