Small farms near each other can be productive as they provide a hunter with pockets of land over a wider area. Nonetheless, the same principle behind quick hitting small properties can work on big ones as well. I discovered this last fall while hunting public land in the Ozarks with Hunter Specialties' Alex Rutledge and NWTF volunteer Donnie Black.
Faced with a dismally rainy day, nobody wanted to traipse through soaked woods for an extended time. Besides the rain, little could be heard. Instead, we traveled to areas that would allow us to get out and quickly inspect target-rich areas, i.e. oak-lined ridges with good views of hollows and open valleys.
To our surprise, while driving to one of these hot spots, we rounded a bend to find five gobblers in the road. At the site of the truck, they scattered. We parked it and went back to set up on a small knob where I hunkered down in the rain and kept my barrel angled low to keep my Winchester dry and ready. The others set up behind, with Rutledge offering the calls — single clucks 10 to 15 minutes apart. All I had to do was sit tight, which I did until rain found its way down my collar. As I moved to adjust my jacket, two gobblers alarm putted 25 steps away. This hunt was over. And while the hunt wasn't successful, our strategy was. In fact, it got us on other birds later as well. When comparing notes with others in camp, we were the only ones to see turkeys.
Fall Target Zones
What makes a good quick-strike area:
Wooded areas surrounded by large fields, pastures or clear cuts. Birds will use these islands of cover to roost, feed and lounge during the day.
Pockets of mast-producing trees amidst pine plantations, particularly along streamside management zones, where timber crews usually leave a barrier of hardwoods standing along waterways.
Open woods surrounded by overgrown cutovers or young forests. Turkeys will avoid the thick woods, which provide cover for predators.
Areas that naturally funnel wildlife traffic such as old windrows, viney undergrowth or wide creeks bordered by open areas for birds to scratch in search of mast and insects.