Finding Places to Hunt Versus Practicing Your Calling
Editor’s Note: Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland, Mossy Oak’s senior vice president of television and related media, probably has hunted turkeys as long and as hard as any man alive. He hunts for his own enjoyment, but in the early days of Mossy Oak, he was a cameraman, field producer, guide and caller. One of Cuz’s greatest joys in life is calling up a turkey for someone else to take. Cuz has hunted turkeys all over the world and in most states. When Cuz talks turkey, we all listen.
To be a successful turkey hunter this season, spend much more time finding places to hunt turkeys and locating the gobblers on the land you have to hunt than you do practicing your turkey calls. Let’s be honest. Although we all like to practice turkey calling, the beautiful and wonderful turkey sounds that you know how to make are totally useless, if you don’t pinpoint places to hunt turkeys and know where the gobblers on those properties like to be. There’s a lot of good turkey hunting on private lands available all over the nation that no one is hunting. To find these private lands, simply knock on the landowner’s door, and ask for permission to hunt his land. Most landowners are very protective of their deer-hunting lands, because leasing land to deer hunters can bring in revenue for a farmer or landowner. But most landowners are rarely, if ever, approached by a hunter to hunt turkeys on their properties.
I remember years ago when I found a great place to hunt turkeys. I helped the landowner put up a fence, split firewood and bush hogged his pasture for the right to hunt his property for turkeys. I’ve heard a lot of hunters say, “I don’t have a good place to hunt. I don’t have any private land. All I have to hunt is public hunting land.” If I hadn’t found a place to hunt on private land, the only place I would’ve had to hunt was the Homochitto National Forest. I was okay hunting turkeys on public land, but I really like having private land to hunt. This reason is why I’ve spent so much time and a little labor to get permission to hunt some really-good private turkey woods. Often, the difference between a great turkey season and a lousy turkey season is finding private land with a good number of turkeys that no one else is hunting.
Here are three or four ways and people to talk to that can help you find good private land to hunt:
- The postman - The rural letter carrier delivers mail to everyone in the county. He probably sees and hears as many turkeys during turkey season as a veteran hunter does. He also knows where the landowner lives and the landowner’s name. More than likely, he knows whether or not the landowner allows anyone to hunt turkeys on his property.
- The conservation officer in that area – The game warden travels his area almost as much, if not more, than the rural letter carrier. More than likely, he knows all the landowners. And, he knows the landowners who do and those who don’t turkey hunt. He also knows the places where he sees and hears turkeys regularly. The conservation officer in each county has a wealth of information that can help you find a place to turkey hunt – possibly on private land.
- The wildlife management area supervisor and/or biologist – If you’re hunting on public lands for turkeys, you want to hunt the places that have good numbers of turkeys where no one else is hunting. So, the supervisors of the WMAs are the best resources for locating those out-of-the-way turkey hot spots that very few, if any, hunters hunt. Take a map of the WMA with you, and spend time with this individual. He probably can help you mark the map where the fewest hunters hunt and where your chances for taking a gobbler is best
- The barber shop – The barber in every small town knows all of his customers, how much land they have, and whether or not they have turkeys. More than likely, he knows your chances of getting permission to hunt on his customer’s property. Some of the best turkey hunters in the nation were once barbers. Harold Knight of Knight and Hale Game Calls, Preston Pittman of Preston Pittman Game Calls, and the late Dick Kirby of Quaker Boy Calls were all barbers at one time. These men were very effective at taking turkeys, possibly because their customers told them where the turkeys were on their properties and invited them to hunt there.
Practicing turkey calling is a lot of fun. But if you want to take turkeys, get permission to hunt on private lands where there are numbers of turkeys.