Few things compare to fall hunting in the Ozarks

Have you ever sat on a ridge in the Ozarks on a cold October morning surrounded by a flock of poults trying to regroup?

Sitting with your back up against a large white oak, tag in your vest and shotgun in your hands?

If you have then you have been blessed beyond measure with one of the most magical moments one could ever ask for in the fall woods of Missouri.

The soft, timid sounds emanating from the young turkey can be more then a “died in the wool” Ozark turkey hunter can handle.

Trying to regroup, the young poults call for momma. They failed to completely flush and follow their mother to the crest of the next ridge across the deep dark hollow.

Instead, they barely make it out of site, lighting upon the branches of a stand of hickory and oak that lines the rim of the big ridge I am on.

I savor the moment. Knowing all too well what was about to play out before me, I intentionally closed my eyes to take in the sounds and smells around me.

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Moments such as this can be nearly intoxicating when you become tuned in to nature. 

Slight changes in wind direction can be noticed on your face. The exaggerated sound of a pair of Blue Jays causing trouble can be heard down the side of the ridge, making a ruckus as they usually do in the fall woods.

A gang of young crows in the distance, causing trouble like a pack of bored teenagers, making a ruckus as they usually do in the fall woods.

Squirrels, mostly young ones, squealing as if about to take a mid-day siesta with a full belly.

Breathing deeply the crisp cold air I open my eyes and make a seven sequence deep, coarse yelp and instantly the sound of half-developed kee-kee run yelps fill the woods.

As I slowly raise my ol’ long gun and settle in, I one more time take in the sounds and smells around me and smile and say to myself, there’s not much else that compares to fall turkey hunting in the Missouri Ozarks.

(Richard Whiteside lives in Doniphan, Mo., and can be reached at rlwhiteside72@gmail.com. His blog can be followed at www.ozarkriverman.wordpress. com.)

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