Tips for Wet Weather Turkey Hunting This Spring
If you’ve spent enough time hunting turkeys in your lifetime, you know that Mother Nature doesn’t always play along. In fact, she can throw some pretty big curveballs your way. You might spend the weeks leading up to turkey season dreaming about a gorgeous opening morning with blue skies and calm conditions, only to sit in the wind and rain when the time comes. That’s hunting for you. But we have some good news. Even though the weather stinks, that doesn’t necessarily mean the turkey hunting will. There are some challenges when it comes to wet weather turkey hunting, but we’ll walk through some ways to get around that below.
Challenges with Wet Weather Turkey Hunting
We’re not going to lie. It’s not always fun hunting in the rain. In fact, when you only have a weekend free to fill your turkey tag, it can be very frustrating. Here are some of the main challenges you’ll face when hunting turkeys in the rain.
- Staying Dry – this one’s obvious. Whether it’s a steady drizzle all day or a quick downpour, it’s hard to stay completely dry and comfortable. If it’s on the chilly side in early spring, it’s tough to stay warm enough after you and your gear gets wet. Plan ahead when the forecast calls for damp weather. Pack a good set of rain gear to keep you dry while walking or sitting on the ground. When the rain really comes on, using a pop-up blind will help you stay dry longer, but may eventually start to leak on you as well.
- Lack of Mobility – when the birds aren’t playing along, sometimes you need to shift your position when wet weather turkey hunting. This is a little harder to do when you have to break a blind down in a downpour. In fact, you might be more willing to wait it out and see if the conditions improve. That being said, if you rely on your rain gear and can hide under tree branches, you might still have some mobility to run and gun.
- Turkey Calling – in gusty, heavy downpours, you can expect your turkey calling to mostly fall on deaf ears unless turkeys are roosted close. Besides, it’s not very realistic, as turkeys don’t typically call much during such conditions. But if the rain and wind are more moderate, you should absolutely pick up your calling again. You just might need to pump up the volume on your calling and call more often than you normally might on a clear, calm day. Also, not all turkeys calls will work well when wet. For example, many box and slate calls will cease to work in the rain. You can try keeping your slate or box calls in a plastic bag until you need to use them and bring along an all-weather striker that is as close to waterproof as you can get. But mouth calls (diaphragm calls) can be a great solution since they work in any weather.
Wet Weather Turkey Hunting Tips
Despite the challenges mentioned above, here are some tips for this season if you might do a little wet weather turkey hunting yourself.
Scouting Turkeys in the Rain
Ahead of your turkey season, you should ideally know the lay of the land and have a good idea where turkeys might be spending their time. Whether that’s from direct scouting or using trail cameras, the intel can really pay off when the weather changes for the worse. During rainy weather, the woods are too noisy and the moving leaves make it tough for turkeys to quickly pick out approaching predators. So they tend to focus their time on the ground in open areas where they can use their sharp eyesight better. As a result, hayfields, pastures, food plots, and natural meadows can be great spots to scout for turkeys in the rain. If the plants are on the short side, it’s even more attractive, as the turkeys can strut about while feeding without dragging their feathers through dripping vegetation. Quietly move between openings, stopping often to glass ahead, make a few hen yelps and clucks, and listen for a response. If you see turkeys or hear a gobble, find a spot to sit down quickly and set up for a shot.
Calling Turkeys in the Rain
As mentioned above, wet weather turkey hunting can be a tricky thing, at least when the rain is really coming down. When the rain turns into more of a drizzle or mist (or better yet, clears out completely), you should be prepared to start calling to see if you can grab the attention of an eager tom. After all, they’ve likely been patiently waiting the storm out and could be excited.
Mouth calls are great for run-and-gun situations because they keep your hands free and can work in any weather, but they’re not as loud as friction calls and may not rise above the sound of a heavy rain very well. While some slate calls tend to lose their effectiveness in the rain, quality glass pot calls generally won’t. The Bone Collector Sweet April glass call, for example, can keep working even when wet. It is a mahogany over glass call, for a sharp, realistic sound that is great for striking turkeys off in the distance. When walking along a path to strike turkeys or while sitting in a blind, you can’t go wrong with this glass pot call.
One thing to keep in mind while calling turkeys in the rain is that the sound of the rain may muffle what you hear as well. You might think the toms are just unresponsive until you get careless and suddenly notice that one slipped in next to your blind unknown. Before you call, make sure to look around your blind as best you can and ensure there’s not a tom already there. Then you can start with a few soft clucks and slowly ratchet the volume up.
Tricking Cautious, Wet Turkeys
Sometimes, changes in the weather can put turkey behavior off a bit. They may be more wary or unresponsive in the rain than they might be on a clear, calm day. One thing you can do to stack the deck in your favor is to use turkey decoys in the rain. With the poor conditions, having some decoys to back up your calling may be just what you need to convince a tom to come into range. Place a few hen decoys in the open where turkeys can spot them from far off, ideally in an area with exposed dirt or short vegetation.
When it’s particularly windy, you might be able to get away with a little more movement with turkeys at close range, but they will also be extra alert in the wind. The best way to fool a tom is to use a hunting blind. Inside, you can still use a variety of turkey calls, operate a camera, and get your gun into position without a turkey noticing.
If you find yourself looking at some wet weather turkey hunting this season, don’t be tempted just to hit the snooze button and pull the covers over your head. Make an effort to get out in the field and use these turkey hunting tips to see if you can make it happen. Turkey season doesn’t last all that long, so go enjoy it while you can.