Bad-Weather Toms

Get your gobbler despite Mother Nature

Field & Stream Online Editors

At some point during the season, you will have to deal with those weather extremes that can dramatically affect turkey behavior. The only thing to do is gather your foul-weather gear and hit the woods. Then apply one of the solutions below to bag your bird.

** Weather Woe 1 - High Wind **
Turkeys are always nervous. When the wind whips up, they become paranoid as rustling leaves and swaying branches make it difficult for them to detect the signs of approaching danger. Wind also makes it tough for you to hear distant gobbles and for gobblers to hear your calls.

**Solution: **Look for birds in valleys or on hillsides that offer relief from the gale. If there are no such sanctuaries, count on the birds' moving into open fields, where they can at least see well. Walk carefully just inside the wood line, glassing frequently. When you find a tom, set up so the wind blows the sound of your calls toward him. Be patient. When he finally notices the "hen," he'll take his time approaching.

** Weather Woe 2 - Spring Rain**
Steady precipitation can slow turkey activity to a crawl. Gobblers may remain roosted long after daybreak, even until midmorning. Once on the ground, they're apt to visit fields, where they can hear better than in the dripping woods.

Solution: Visit known roosts at sunrise and use a locator call to elicit gobbles. When you hear a bird, use the silent woods to slip close. Set up within 100 yards and get comfortable; it may be a while before the gobbler is ready to fly down. During the late morning or early afternoon (where legal), glass field edges and openings to locate feeding or strutting toms.

** Weather Woe 3 - Snow Spring**
Snowstorms typically concentrate flocks near dense cover or a protected food source. Severe storms keep turkeys on the roost all day. Otherwise, birds may go in search of food, with snow depth dictating how far they'll travel. They'll do little breeding and are typically hard to kill.

**Solution: **Cover ground, glassing. If you find turkeys, sneak as close as possible before calling. Tracking is an unusual but effective tactic. A straight line of travel suggests that the birds are heading for a specific destination; follow at a slow but steady pace. If their path is meandering, they may be feeding or loafing nearby; set up immediately and call.

The best news: Once a storm breaks, gobblers are often twice as active, determined to compensate for lost breeding opportunities.