Hunting Turkeys in Undesirable Weather


Deer season has ended and it is time to start thinking about spring turkey season. It will be here before you know it. Are you ready to hunt in all conditions to fill your turkey tag, including undesirable weather?

Turkey season does not last long. In order for a hunter to be successful he has to be willing to put the time in the woods. That might mean hunting during some crappy weather that you would prefer not to be in. When the wind is blowing heavy, or the skies have opened up and the rain is falling hard enough to make a duck look for shelter, opportunities still do exist for a successful turkey hunt. Don’t get me wrong, it will be a tough hunt trying to find a turkey that will cooperate, but with a little know-how and a whole lot of patience and luck, you can make it work.

Hunters will notice that as the wind increases, turkeys will start to talk more than they would if the wind was not blowing. Toms tend to gobble more and louder because they are not able to hear hens. And, hens are not able to hear the toms in stiff winds either. Because turkeys cannot smell, hunters can use this to their advantage. A hunter can easily get on the upwind side of a tom to call. It is nice not having to worry about a mature tom busting you because of your scent. The advantage of calling from the upwind side of a bird is that it will allow your calls to carry better. This makes it easier for a tom to hear you.

When choosing a place to set up on a rainy day, find an open area at the edge of the woods or a field without tall vegetation. Photo: Howard Communications

Turkeys like to stay out of the wind just like you or I. The best place to find birds seeking protection from wind are in creek bottoms, pine thickets and on the backs of ridges.

One of the best ways to attack turkeys on windy days is to slowly make your way over a ridge where you expect them to be hanging out downwind. Your calls can be heard several hundred yards away when the wind is working in your favor. A turkey that hears your call from such a long distance could take a while to find its way to you. Stay put. One thing that I like to do is to stay at my set-up for several hours before moving on. This gives the birds plenty of time to find me. This is especially important on windy days when birds might take their time getting to you. This is when being a patient hunter pays off.

Do not let the wind trick you into believing that a longbeard is farther away than he actually is. When you call, the sounds are headed downwind toward the tom. This makes it easier for a gobbler to hear you, but when he responds to your calls, his gobbles have to work their way upwind to the hunter. If a gobbler does not seem to be as interested as he was when he first started to gobble, it is easy and recommended to turn up the volume of the call. Start out calling just loud enough for a tom to respond, and then make changes that you feel are necessary. Let the tom’s responses dictate how soft or loud you need to call.

After calling loudly for 1 minute, wait 20 minutes. After a couple sequences of calling, change to clucks or yelps, calling softly for the remainder of your session. The quiet time between the calling sessions will often be all it takes to entice a gobbler to respond. This will allow you to know the location of the bird and adjust your calling if it is needed.

If I can hear a longbeard that is downwind of me, it is obvious that he can hear my calling. Again, do not give up too soon; allow the bird plenty of time to work his way to your set-up. If you do not have patience on any other day, make sure you bring it along on a windy day.

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Rain gear, and once again, patience. Those are the two things that a hunter cannot be without in the rain or wind. A dry hunter equals a patient hunter.

Most turkeys prefer to roost in a tree that will provide cover from the rain, again, such as dense thickets or in pine or cedar trees that have low branches. If a hunter is willing to hunt through the elements he can normally convince one to fly off its roost and show itself.

A wet turkey will not gobble piously or come in a full strut. Instead, when they do come in they will be cautious in their approach. The rain will play havoc on their hearing, and the low-light conditions interfere with their keen eyesight. A bird that is normally afraid of predators under normal conditions will be extremely cautious in the rain.

A hunter that is able to sit for several hours while staying warm and dry in an area known to hold birds will have a good chance at killing a waterlogged gobbler. One way to stay dry is by investing in a ground blind. Rainy days often include some thunder, and that can be a good thing for a turkey hunter. Thunder has been known to cause a gobbler to “shock gobble,” giving away his position much like an owl hoot would.

When choosing a place to set up on a rainy day, find an open area at the edge of the woods or a field without tall vegetation. The gobblers want a place where they can look around and feel safe while approaching your set-up without having to walk through rain-soaked weeds. If you have ever walked through waste-high weeds while wearing blue jeans that are soaking wet, you know why turkeys do not like walking through wet vegetation.

Every 20 minutes, without making a sound or moving in between your calling sessions, yelp and cutt excitedly. Incoming gobblers will come in quietly—set for two or three hours before you move.

Hunting in the wind and rain is not for everyone. Therefore, you can expect not to have much competition from other hunters. Dress for the weather and employ these techniques for birds that are more active than most hunters think.