Bad Weather Won’t Stop Gobblers So Hunters Need To Know How to Hunt in It
Ah, springtime! Sunny days, warmer temperatures and turkey season. Well, two out of three is not bad. Spring is a time of change and renewal. Fresh flowers, budding trees, green grass, and gobbling turkeys. While this is the picture turkey hunters dream about, some days can be a nightmare.
Flashes of lightning and bending pine branches will send many turkey hunters back to bed. They don’t want to deal with rain and gusty winds on their turkey hunt. However, foul weather days can help predict when and where an old gobbler might show up.
While many hunters may throw in the towel and hope for better weather the next day, savvy turkey hunters will brave the elements. Turkey hunting in foul weather may be less than desirable, but with certain tactics and preparations, hunters might fill a slot on their gobbler tag.
Hunters will want to keep an eye on the weather before heading outdoors. Although hunters can tolerate rain and wind, thunderstorms and tornadoes can be dangerous. Gobbler chasers should monitor the weather conditions and forecasts before donning a turkey vest.
“Always check to see if there are any storms around your turkey hunting area,” advises Bob Phillips of Lincoln, Ala. “One lightning strike can ruin your day.”
Television stations, weather apps on smartphones and computers and NOAA weather radio will give forecasts and any weather warnings for your area. Hunters should note the movement and severity of any storms and plan their trip accordingly.
If you are caught outside with an approaching thunderstorm, seek shelter. Trucks or SUVs are a wise spot to hold up in a thunderstorm. If no shelter is available, move away from open areas and seek a shallow depression or ravine. Lay down your gun and move away from it. No turkey is worth losing your life over.
Steady rain and wind are definitely not welcome on any turkey hunt, but they are not showstoppers. Every hunter should carry along a quality rain suit and/or a camouflaged umbrella to ward off the rain. Portable pop-up blinds are also an option on rainy days.
Turkey Hunting in the Rain
While hunters may be bothered by some rain, most day turkeys don’t seem to mind. Gobblers will still sound off and be on the lookout for hens. Although the veracity of gobbles and other turkey sounds may be dampened.
“While hunters may be bothered by some rain, most day turkeys don’t seem to mind.”
“Turkeys will move in the rain,” Phillips mentions. “Look for them in open areas like edges of fields and pastures. Old gobblers will visit a food plot on a rainy day searching for a hen.”
Phillips said during heavy rains or storms, the turkeys may remain on roost well after daylight. Hunters that know the roosting areas will be at an advantage when the storm breaks. Scouting out and knowing your hunting area will pay off on foul weather days.
Gobblers want to be seen by the hen. That is why they puff up and strut around. Old Tom will hang around open areas on rainy days looking for a girlfriend. Old logging roads, pulpwood loading areas, and fresh cutovers are prime spots for a rainy-day gobbler.
The two main senses for turkeys are sight and hearing. Rain can impact both. Raindrops hitting the leaves on trees or the forest floor make it difficult for turkeys to hear. Also, wind moving branches and trees will inhibit their detecting movement from predators.
Moving to open spots allows turkeys a little better use of their defenses. One weather phenomenon that will affect hunters and turkeys is fog. For some reason, turkeys dislike fog. They will often stay in their roost tree until visibility improves.
“Sometimes turkeys will gobble at a thunderclap,” Phillips advises. “Thunder can cause a turkey to shock gobble and give away his position.”
As mentioned earlier, hunters should use extreme caution when outdoors around a thunderstorm. Phillips mentions to pinpoint the gobbler and wait until the storm has passed then move in and set up for calling.
Turkey hunters not wanting to hunt in the rain should be prepared to move out as soon as the rain ceases. Some spring storms may be short in duration. As the weather improves, turkeys will be on the move. Even though the rain has stopped, water droplets are still falling from wet trees and tom turkeys will move to open areas.
Gobblers can still be hunted even in the rain. Light to moderate rain will usually not deter turkey movement. They will make calls and gobble during rain events, although not as often as on fair weather days.
Hunters will need to prepare themselves for rainy day hunts. A wide brim hat will help keep the raindrops off your face. A camouflaged poncho or rain suit is necessary. Also, waterproof boots come in handy on wet days. Make certain to keep the muzzle of your shotgun pointed down to keep the water out.
Rainy Day Calling
Calling turkeys on rainy days is not much different than calling them on sunny days, except the type of calls that can be used effectively are limited. Box calls and slates may be difficult to squeak out the proper sound.
“A mouth call will be your best call in rainy weather,” Phillips reports. “They are easy to carry and the rain won’t bother them.”
Years ago, old-time turkey hunters put their box calls in empty bread sacks. The soft plastic protected the call and did not interfere with the sound or operation. Some box calls and push-button yelpers are designed to work in the rain.
Phillips said hunters might have to call louder on rainy days than they normally would. The rain and any wind will dampen the sound. The turkey notes will not carry as far on rainy days. Tube yelpers can provide some extra volume as well.
Calling more often can also help get a bird’s attention. Cut back on the spacing between calling series and vary the intensity. Fast, loud yelps sent out across a rainy field will hopefully fall on a gobbler’s ear. Hunters should also try different types of calls to get the volume needed.
Turkey decoys might tip the advantage to the hunter. A couple of hen decoys in the open or near a field edge can draw the attention and hopefully the admiration of an old tom. Decoys and calling just might be the ticket to lure a gobbler into shotgun range.
“I have mixed results with decoys,” Phillips mentions. “Sometimes a young gobbler may run off or shy away from a decoy. At other times, older gobblers didn’t seem to mind them.”
Phillips added that whether it is raining or not a jake decoy can get an old gobbler fighting mad. He suggests painting the head of a jake decoy bright white. The old gobbler will see the decoy and think the jake is moving in on his hens.
“A mouth call will be your best call in rainy weather. They are easy to carry and the rain won’t bother them.” — Bob Phillips, turkey hunter
While the rain may have stopped, the wind can pick up. Turkeys aren’t as spooky as deer on windy days, but blowing trees and limbs makes it difficult for them to hear as well. Usually, a group of turkeys will move into open areas, like a pasture, field or food plot on very windy days.
The wind can make it tough on turkey hunters as well. The gobble and sounds of the turkey won’t travel as far under breezy conditions. Also, hunter calls will be muffled in the heavy winds. However, the windy conditions can dampen the noise of a hunter trying to close the distance on a gobbler.
Phillips advises when the rain stops or slacks off to a drizzle, hunters need to be in the field and ready to move. Many times, gobblers will sound off after a long rain since they are eager to get back with their hen harem.
Rainy day hunts are a little tougher on hunters, especially if they are not prepared. A daypack with a lightweight rain jacket or poncho stuffed inside will be appreciated if a sudden downpour occurs. An extra pair of gloves and socks can also be carried in your pack or turkey vest.
If the weather forecast is for an all-day soaker, a small pop-up blind might be in order. These are easy to set up and give hunters an opportunity to stay dry. Inside the blind, hunters might use any of several different calls. Slate, crystal, glass, and other friction calls will perform much better in the dry confines of a blind.
Rainy days may keep many turkey hunters on the porch of the clubhouse, but there is no need to let a little rainwater dampen your hunt. Those turkey hunters that brave the elements will be rewarded with a great day outdoors.