Heat-Wave Turkeys

Turkey hunters can always depend on a variety of weather events in the spring that add to or subtract from the odds of success. When it’s hot, here’s how to adapt.

On days that promise to be hot, beat the heat. Hunt turkeys early in the morning when it’s reasonably cool and the birds are still interacting with each other. Where legal, hunting late in the afternoon also can be viable.

Hunting in the middle of the day, when the temperature spikes can be tough. Turkey activity diminishes as the dark-bodied birds seek cool, shady spots. The rule has exceptions, but when it’s stifling hot, most turkeys will be reluctant to come to a call.

Preston Pittman, of Pittman’s Game Calls had some interesting and useful observations about heat and provided these tips:

  • the closer you are to a tom when you call, the better because turkeys usually won’t extend themselves much
  • turkeys usually avoid open fields and hang out where trees provide plenty of shade or where there is running water

Try using one of these approaches:

  1. Set up in a thick grove of tall oak trees, where shade- and moisture-loving trilliums grow along a narrow, slow-moving creek. Get as close to the birds as possible, but be careful setting up, you don’t want him to see or hear you coming.
  2. Slow down and melt into the background for a while. When settled in a place where turkeys might spend time, produce a couple strings of yelps and be aware of the volume you produce. A reply may not come instantly, listen for several minutes. If you don’t hear a gobble right away, repeat the process until you’re convinced you should move to another location.

Dealing with heat:

Some of the difficulties associated with hot weather exertion can be avoided. Here are some thoughts on the subject:

  • In the midday heat, wear lightweight camo clothing rather than the stuff you bundle up in during cool, frosty mornings
  • Keep hydrated by toting bottled water or other nonalcoholic liquids in your vest
  • To help maintain your energy level, take along heat-friendly snacks, such as jerky, trail mix or protein bars. Leave chocolate behind, because in the heat, it will become a gooey mess
  • Hunt slowly, and rest frequently in the shade to keep from overheating
  • To guard against sunburn, apply sunblock with an SPF rating of 30 or more to the exposed parts of your skin

Heat waves during spring hunting are simply another weather event to which hunters and turkeys must adapt. Despite the weather, whatever it is, turkeys aren’t going anywhere. Heat wave hunting isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it’s not impossible, either. You just have to be willing to be out there with them when a tom decides you’re the hen of his dreams.

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