Ok, so here we sit on the eve of the opener for the 2012 Shotgun Spring Turkey Season in Nebraska and the weather folks aren’t predicting what us turkey hunters had in mind. They’re saying maybe some wind and rain – perhaps even some nasty stuff.
Now, as an addicted springtime turkey chaser I will admit there are some conditions you just don’t go out in – lightening being one of those. However, rest assured that you can still tag a tom when the weather isn’t ideal – you may need to adapt your techniques a bit, though. Keep in mind that “love-urge” the birds are feeling override most weather conditions – except the severe stuff.
Rain – If it’s just misting, lightly raining or just starting the chances are the birds will barely even change their routine. If it’s a soaker or been raining for sometime the birds will make their way to the fields or some area of short-grass and “umbrella-cover” where they won’t be rubbing up against the wet grass and undergrowth. You see bird feathers are like the shingles on your house – the raindrop hits them and it rolls down one feather to the next until it falls off the turkey. But if they are constantly rubbing up against wet stuff their feathers don’t work so well and the birds gets soaked. So they get out of the thick, wet cover & so should you. Look for areas of low grass such as pastures, north-facing slopes in open woods, etc.
One of the benefits of rain is when it stops. You can have some great hunting right after the rain ends, especially if the sun pops out. The birds head to the sunny spots to dry off and seem to have pent up gobbling energy they must use. Sometimes the morning after a really raining day is a great time to be afield.
Wind – I hate wind more than I hate rain, most the time. It can be a beautiful day but windy and make the turkey hunting tough. Turkeys don’t seem to gobble as much in the wind, especially when in the roost, and when they do it doesn’t travel very far. Yet, the birds seem to have very little difficulty finding each other. Your best bet is to find the leeward sides of ridges & fields – spots where the big strutting toms won’t be turned into windsocks. The tricky part is getting to these spots before the birds do or being able to sneak in and set-up without them seeing you. If the woods are in constant motion because of the wind the birds will often head to open fields, where their eyesight is better used for spotting trouble. Evening hunts can be very productive on these days as the wind begins to slow some & the toms use the break in the wind to announce their presence.
Calling – Rain or wind be sure to make some noise so the birds can hear you. Box calls are may favorite to use when I need to be heard – especially the big squeaky boat paddle-styles. However, rain can play havoc with wooden calls so you may need to make use of a waterproof, aluminum “slate” call with a graphite striker or a multi-reed mouth call (which takes lots of air). Just remember this is not the time for the soft, sweet clucks & purrs – use loud yelps and cutts.
Ground Blinds – Pop-up ground blinds can be great tool during inclement weather. Bring plenty of stakes if it’s windy out and plan ahead so that you can better sneak into your hunting area well before your prey does. Don’t forget some snacks either as patience is often the key to bad-weather birds.
Take your Time – Perhaps the best thing to remember is that season is just getting underway – we have a month & a half to go and some of the best turkey hunting is yet to come.