As Turkey season closes in, I have been getting my fix via internet videos. One thing that has triggered my short span attention is how a lot of Turkey hunters pass up days when Mother Nature does not fully cooperate. I’m getting the feeling that some turkey hunters are stuck with the idea that it’s supposed to be sunny and sixty five degrees in order to hunt turkeys. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many ways to hit the curve ball Mother Nature throws at us during spring Turkey season.
Windy days especially seem to keep hunters in the shack. I do understand that turkeys will have a harder time hearing calls. Not to mention, heavy wind decreases our range of hearing when trying to locate turkeys by sound. This does put a dent in our calling effectiveness. However, where one tactic will fail, another will prevail.
When I'm presented with windy days during turkey season, experience has shown me that turkeys are not very vocal. They too realize that their calling is deemed useless, for the most part. That’s why I am so eager to utilize more aggressive decoy sets. A perfect example would be setting up a Tom decoy right over top of a hen decoy. This is a visual cue to any Tom that another Tom is on his turf trying to steal his girlfriend. With a setup like this, sometimes calling isn’t even necessary.
Keep in mind that heavy winds can mask the sound of you moving through the woods. It will also mask a lot of your movement because everything else, such as leaves and tree branches, will be moving as well. This is very helpful when trying to get in tight on a those long beards.
There is no way around rain. If it is falling, you’re going to get wet. With that being said, I have had my highest success in a light down poor. Just like wind, rain decrease some range in hearing, both for turkeys and hunters, but not to the extent of wind. A turkey’s biggest concern during a light rain is his visibility. A turkey’s eye sight is affected by falling rain drops. Imagine watching HD television verses a grainy old movie. You can now imagine what a turkey sees when it’s raining. This is where you can capitalize from a turkey’s sense of hearing.
Locating turkeys during a rain seems like it would be hard, but I have located Toms almost a quarter mile away with a steady falling rain. In fact, my brother Arron’s very first turkey was killed in a steady rain on opening morning of 2008. We parked on top of a hill and I made a locating call. We heard the Tom fire off about a quarter mile away. I almost disregarded setting up on that bird because it was so far away. But we did anyways. Ten minutes into the setup, with steady yelping and a single hen decoy sitting in front of us, we saw the Tom break the tree line less than one hundred yards away. As soon as he spotted the decoy, he slowed his pace, taking about fifteen minutes to get within range. Arron dispatched the long beard at forty yards.
There were a lot of variables in that hunt but I can guarantee that Tom’s limited hearing caused him to rush our set in order to locate what he thought was a receptive hen. Once he locked on to the decoy, he took his sweet time strutting his way to his maker. This goes to show that rain is the least of a Turkey hunters worries, as long as they don’t mind getting wet.
My fellow Michigan hunters know this all too well. Snow has been known to interrupt turkey season, especially in the northern and mountain regions where turkeys reside. But there is no need to panic. In 2013, Northern Michigan was still covered with snow by the opener of turkey season. My brother Arron, his girlfriend and I all killed our Toms before 11 am on opening morning. Four different setups resulted in three dead turkeys. All three of them turkeys responded to our calling and came in just as they would if the weather was sunny and fifty degrees.
Snow presents elements to work around, but it does not affect a turkey’s response to decoys or calling nearly as much as hunters would think. Just like rain, it can affect vision if there is a heavy flurry. Sound is nearly unaffected, given there is not a heavy wind with the snow. I always tell people I hunt with to make sure they keep their bow hunting gear handy. You never know when Mother Nature will take a turn for the worst.
If there is still a significant amount of snow on the ground comes turkey season, you have to be aware of the food sources the turkeys are using. Acorns, crop fields and any patches of exposed grass are going to be good feeding areas when the food is limited in those conditions. Check those spots during mid-day. When food is limited, turkeys will not stray too far from one of their only food sources. Given the amount of snow on the ground, turkeys will also roost pretty close to food sources when food is limited, due to late winter conditions.
Mother Nature will forever be a factor in our hunting agendas. As long as we know how to curve the affect in our favor, you can capitalize in most any weather condition. Whether it is snow, rain or wind, do not let it stop you from enjoying the outdoors this spring. Make the best of you time, no matter the conditions. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on facebook/michigangonewild. I love hearing from readers and fellow hunters. This is Alvin Sitkiewicz signing off, stay wild!