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Windy Day Gobbler
Photo by John Higley

In the wind, a gobbler may be coming to you without you knowing it. Be patient, stay focused; it may be your lucky day.

Calling in the wind

You can't hear him; he can't hear you.
So what do you do?

Some turkey hunters, with more time on their hands than most of us, can pick and choose their days to hunt spring turkeys. Oh, it's too rainy today, they say, or too hot or, heaven forbid, too windy. But most of us have to chase gobblers when we can, not when it's convenient.

Of all the curves nature tosses our way during the course of a typical spring turkey season, I rate strong wind as just about the worst.
If you are downwind from a tom you may hear him gobble clearly, but he may not hear you calling to him. Because the wind carries his sound in your direction, he may also be farther away than you think.

On the other hand, if a tom is downwind, you may not hear him gobble back at your calls unless he's very close. And a downwind tom could put a move on you, and you won't realize it until he's practically in your lap. Depending on the direction you're facing, and your reflexes, that can be either good or bad.

I chatted with Eddie Salter, a long-time member of Hunter's Specialties' national pro staff, and we discussed his approach on excessively windy days.

"I agree that wind can be hard to deal with," he said. "If it's blowing really hard the turkeys probably won't be out in it, so I look for quiet spots, like the opposite side of a ridge or a hollow where it isn't so gusty, and I can hear better.

"If I know the area, and where the turkeys are apt to be, and if I'm finding sign, I might set up a little blind like Hunter's Specialties' Super Light Portable Ground Blind, and stay in one spot for 30 or 40 minutes. I know I might not hear a turkey that hears me, and I want to give an old tom enough time to come in. And, if a gobbler takes me by surprise, a blind might allow me to get my shotgun on him, even when I have to change position to do it."

Salter said he prefers a high-pitched call that carries a long way in the wind. According to him, a glass pot and peg call works well, as does the H.S. Mama Hen Box Call (a boat paddle design), which has become one of his favorites.

6 Windy Day Tactics

  1. Use a high-pitched call to cut through the wind and get the turkeys'
  2. Be patient. If you think turkeys are nearby, sit a while, move a little and sit again. Give a bird you don't hear enough time to show up at each stop.
  3. Consider using a blind to mask movement, in case a tom arrives unexpectedly, in an odd place.
  4. Because wind impairs hearing, rely more on eyesight and employ binoculars whenever practical. Even if you don't hear them, you can often identify turkeys from afar with optics and, if necessary, make a significant move on them.
  5. Hunt sheltered places out of the wind where you can hear the turkeys better and they can hear you.
  6. Stay positive, and keep trying. — J.H.

Eyes on the prize

One windy day, using a pair of binoculars, I spotted two strutting gobblers across a wide pasture that ended in a riparian corridor along a meandering creek. Entering the corridor at a road crossing hundreds of yards from the turkeys, I made my way toward them as best I could, with strong gusts of wind at my back. I couldn't hear anything but tree branches rattling, so I scanned the area constantly, hoping to see the turkeys before they saw me. When I figured I was about where the birds should be, I nestled into position at the base of a huge oak tree and yelped as loud as I could with a box call.

Was that a gobble? I thought I heard something other than the wind, but I couldn't be sure. I called again and listened intently. Nothing. For several long minutes I sat there trying, without success, to hear any kind of turkey talk, and then I saw a flicker of movement to my right. Turning my head slowly — thankfully, I was well hidden — I came face to beak with two longbeard gobblers and a jake. All their heads went up when I raised my shotgun, and one of the big toms stayed behind when the others fled.

Expect the unexpected

In a normal chain of events, wind or no wind, some toms, for whatever reason, come in quietly. Others may spit and drum as they approach and do nothing else. When that happens, and it's windy, you may not have a clue that you've got one fooled. Focus on that possibility, and be prepared for the unexpected. — John Higley