Wisconsin wild turkey hunters are moving into their third season. That comes with rain and wind which is typical of springtime weather. Most hunters think this is better than snow, although on May 5th of 2013 20 inches of wet snow suffocated the woods. Let us all hope there will be no repeat performance this year. The thing a spring turkey hunter must keep in mind is the turkeys are still there doing turkey things no matter the weather. Where else are they going to go?
Wind and rain bring some advantages to the turkey hunter who perseveres through their discomfort. Both help hide hunter’s movements and noises. When the wind is blowing there is movement all around from greases, brush and trees. A turkey’s eyesight is their first line of defense however it is only 2 dimensional eyesight so background movement makes it harder for the turkey to pick out danger. This causes turkeys to move less and become more wary,(if you can imagine that). A turkey’s second defense is their acute hearing which also is impaired due to wind and rain moving plants while causing background noise that aids in covering accidental human made sounds setting the stage for a successful hunt.
To avoid the loss or degradation of the their primary defenses turkeys hangout or loaf around in areas where the wind has less affect. Such as hollows in hilly country or even folds in open field land and flat woodlands. Rain seems to keep turkeys from moving around as much so when a hunter finds turkeys they’ll be less likely to leave the sheltered area. If the hunter can enter these zones relatively undetected and waits 15-20 minutes for “settle time” before calling softly they may soon find a lonely turkey silently responding to their calls. Keep in mind the rain and wind that takes away from the turkey’s senses also diminishes the hunter’s. This will make identifying the approaching turkey more difficult.
Today’s modern turkey hunters if they go hunting in the rain and wind setup in a blind. This is better than not hunting but remember turkey movements are curtailed during times of less than perfect weather. These blind and decoy spreads are occasionally successful. I have little advice to offer with these blind setups even though I have killed a few gobblers from blinds on bad weather days.
My preferred bad weather tactic is “sneak’n and gun’n”. A version of running and gunning at a much more careful and focused pace. A rain suit is a give away, way too noisy. Instead I wear fleece which is quiet, warm, sheds quite a bit of water and dries quickly using wearer’s body heat. Wood and slate calls will not work wet. Mouth calls, wingbone calls. and crystal pot calls with synthetic strikers are the order of a inclement weather days.
When possible setup with the wind to your back. This is more comfortable and call sounds carry downwind better than upwind. There is a theory turkeys prefer to travel into the wind rather than against it. Traveling into the wind keeps their feathers down in natural position, where as traveling with the wind pushes their feathers forward causing some discomfort and soaking under their feathers if it is raining.
If the hens are nesting they are more likely to stay on nest rather than be interested in any advances from a gobbler. So the hunter may have more lonely receptive gobblers to work with.
Remember when morning weather is bad turkeys will usually leave the roost later. I’ve encountered roosted turkeys as late as 11 am. Unless the hunter has roosted turkeys the night before they may want to wait until they hear turkeys or it’s light enough to see before heading into the woods. On the other side of the day if late afternoon/evening weather turns windy and wet turkeys may go to roost earlier.
So when is a good time to hunt? Whenever you have the open tag and time off.
Good turkey hunting.