Roll With Weather Changes

Every turkey hunter dreams of clear mornings when gobbling echoes everywhere. But when it’s time to hunt, that ideal weather has often been replaced by uncomfortable conditions.

Turkeys don’t disappear when the weather goes sour. Here’s a primer on know how to turn seemingly lousy days into great ones.

Rain: I love hunting in light to moderate rain because I have a good idea what turkeys will do. Generally, birds will congregate and feed in open areas, such as pastures, meadows, clear-cuts or agricultural fields.

For rainy fly-down hunts, I set up at likely areas near roosts. In steady rains, I’ll usually use a pop-up blind. If it’s misting or raining lightly, I might just don raingear and sit against a tree. Turkeys might not gobble much during rainy mornings, but they’ll surprise you some days. 

During midmorning or afternoon, I’ll glass open areas to locate turkeys. Then, I can find a setup and approach that might let me intercept a gobbler.

Heavy rains or storms can shut down turkey activity, so I typically wait for such conditions to pass. Thunder often makes toms gobble, revealing their location, but be safe. It’s not wise to be outside during an electrical storm.  

Wind: This can be the toughest weather variable, as it often stifles turkey activity and hinders your hearing. Typically, it’s best to hunt in relatively calm areas, such as creek bottoms, the lee sides of ridges or the bases of hills. Turkeys still do their thing when it’s windy, but you might have to be closer to them to provoke a response — or hear one. Three tips:

  1. When the wind hits 10 mph or more, turkeys often fly down into the breeze, like a duck coming into decoys.
  2. Wind will let you get away with a bit more movement, and you can use that to your advantage if you need to adjust your gun.
  3. Wind speed is relative. A 15-mph breeze in Texas might not bother turkeys much because they’re accustomed to those conditions. A similar wind in Alabama might turn them off.

Cold: Significant cold fronts can put turkeys off and suppress gobbling. Southern turkeys seem more susceptible to this than Northern birds, possibly because Yankee gobblers are accustomed to frigid weather.

Early in the season, big temperature plunges seem to put turkeys back in winter mode, and they’ll often spend all day feeding or milling about. During cold, quiet days, refer to your scouting, and set up at hot feeding locales, such as ag fields, acorn-strewn ridges or cow-pie-rich pastures.

Heat: Nothing shuts down gobbling quicker than warmth. Hot late-spring sunshine usually puts turkeys in loafing mode, and they prefer to spend midmorning through midafternoon in cool, shady spots.

That creates two good options. First, make the most of the first and last hours of daylight. Use aggressive roosting to get under gobblers before they fly down. Then, find spots where birds grab a quick meal before flying up to roost, and intercept them there.

Or, scout for shady loafing areas — creek bottoms, timbered ravines, cedar groves, pine plantations — and cold-call there during midday. It’s not exciting, but it can be effective.

Conclusion: Whatever the weather, get out and hunt. You can dry off, cool down or warm up after you’ve cleaned your gobbler. 

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