The Loess Hills are a formation of wind-deposited loess soil deposited from the last glacier in the westernmost part of Iowa and Missouri along the Missouri River. The dominant features of this landscape are “peak and saddle” topography, “razor ridges” (narrow ridges, often less than 10 feet (3 m) wide, which fall off at near ninety-degree angles on either side for 60 feet (18 m) or more), and “cat-step” terraces (caused by the constant slumping and vertical sheering of the loess soil). The soil has a characteristic yellow hue and is generally broken down into several units based on the period of deposition. Loess is known locally as “sugar clay” because it can be extremely hard when dry, but when wet, loses all cohesion. The Loess Hills of Iowa are remarkable for the depth of the drift layer, often more than 90 feet (27 m) deep.
I grabbed a gun and drove up one morning to meet the landowner’s father to check out the ground and pick out some good places to hunt. The road down into the farm is long with loose gravel. I could feel the vehicle slip as we drove down to the bottom of the valley. A gated entry is located there and a key was handed over to me for future use.
As we drove into a parking spot, I noticed the grass on either side of the road was almost knee high. Hens ran ahead of the vehicle and finally took off and flew to some of the standing timber. The tall grass is not good for turkeys as they do not like that type of environment. It blocks their vision, which is one of their most effective means of survival.
We climbed up a hill and set up a few decoys to give it a try. After sitting for about an hour we did not hear or see any birds and there was no response to any calls. My host said they had continually seen birds in large flocks moving through the ground.
We moved off this location and walked into the valley and crossed a small dam holding back rain water. It had formed a nice pond and ducks and geese were nesting there. This farm holds it all with plenty of water, cover, and food.
We moved to another location on the side of a hill and set up for another hour. Again, we did not hear or see anything. The plain fact is that they were not on the farm or nearby during the time we were there.
We walked to some other locations but had no luck, although we did hear a love sick tom off in the distance making his presence known with plenty of gobbling. With no luck and the main purpose accomplished, we left. My plan is to be back and on site at daybreak when the birds come off the roost. We did see plenty of signs with plenty of droppings and lots of tracks both old and fresh. Feathers were everywhere, so we knew the birds were working through the area.