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Rainy Day Wild Turkeys
Photo by Linda Freshwaters Arndt

Stick it out

Inclement spring weather can be your friend. For one thing, most hunters aren’t silly enough to be out in it. You may even have public ground to yourself, and if you’re already out there when a storm front moves along, willing turkeys could surround you.
“I can’t think of a better time to be turkey hunting than when a storm is breaking up,” said Eddie Salter, Hunter’s Specialties pro staffer. “It doesn’t take long for those old gobblers to dry off and start looking for hens again. And when that happens I definitely want to be there.” — J.H.


Weathered Toms

There are certain weather conditions during spring turkey season that I prefer to sit out. Rain and wind come to mind as does blanket fog. A mini blizzard ranks right up there as well. However, there are occasions, especially when time is limited, when you either put up with less than ideal circumstances or miss the opportunity to hunt altogether.

Is making the effort necessary to deal with inclement weather is really worth the trouble? The answer, of course, is a definite yes — and no. One thing is for sure, if you aren’t out here trying, you’ll never know.

Worth His Salt-er

I had a chat about spring turkey hunting with Eddie Salter, pro staffer for Hunter’s Specialties and recent inductee into the Legends of the Outdoors National Hall of Fame. Salter, who killed his first turkey at 10, is a down-to-earth guy, and someone I listen to with great interest when it comes to hunting turkeys under any circumstances.

“A lot of times there’s unsettled weather in the spring, and you’ve just got to deal with it,” Salter said. “The bad thing is, you can’t hear the turkeys very well, and they’re not as active or gobbling as much anyway. That’s when you’ve got to rely on your scouting ability to be certain there are turkeys close by, wherever you happen to be hunting.

“One thing I’ve learned is that the turkeys don’t like to be in the woods when it’s raining hard. It’s noisy in there, and they don’t like those big water drops falling on them from the branches overhead, so they’re out in the open. If you have road access to your hunting ground, you might be able to spot birds from your vehicle and work up a plan to get in close enough to call, or intercept them as they move from one location to another.”

Salter added that if it’s really wet, it helps to wear a good camouflage rain suit to keep from getting drenched, and to have at least a couple of waterproof calls in your vest. Mouth calls obviously work when they are wet, as do some of the pot and peg calls. Box calls like the Wet Box by Primos and the Field Champion Waterproof Box Call by H.S. Strut are also impervious to the elements.

“Personally, I really like a big, waterproof box call for nasty weather situations,” Salter said. “As a rule of thumb, a box (call) like that has 25 percent more volume than most other calls and that’s important when it’s windy or rainy, or both. I don’t call aggressively when the turkeys are just waiting out a storm, but I want them to at least hear me, if possible.

“When it’s stormy, I’ll go to an area where I’ve seen or heard turkeys before and call for 30 or 40 minutes before moving on. When I do that, I like to have a little blind just in case an old tom comes in quietly and shows up like he’s popped out of the ground. That way I can move without being seen as readily. H.S. makes the Super Light Portable Ground Blind that you can fold up and put in your vest. Mine is 12 feet long and 27 inches high.”
Salter also likes to use decoys in poor weather situations. He admits they don’t always work, but sometimes a gobbler that sees a decoy in the distance on a windy or rainy day will hoof it over, even though he can’t hear you calling and you can’t hear him.

“My favorite combo is a jake with a couple hens or a jake by himself,” he said. “Just the sight of them will sometimes draw a boss tom in from quite a distance.”

FoUl-Weather Hunting

As for foul-weather turkey hunting, my observation is that you have your best chance when the barometer is steady or climbing. Turkeys, like many animals, are sensitive to changes in the weather. When a storm is approaching (dropping barometer), I’ve encountered turkeys that were in basic survival mode. Despite tempting them with my best calling, they didn’t even raise their heads in response.

When the barometer flat lines or starts to climb, it’s a different story. More than once I’ve killed still wet, bedraggled gobblers as a storm waned. Before taking photos, I dried a couple of them off with borrowed hair dryers.

Hunting during inclement weather isn’t all that enjoyable, but it’s part of spring turkey hunting. So you might as well make the most of it. — John Higley