In most states, the turkey opener teeters on the cusp of spring, when early-season weather is unpredictable. You’re as apt to freeze as you are to sweat; as likely to face high winds as to get soaked in a downpour. But rain needn’t drown your hopes. Snow shouldn’t blanket your enthusiasm. You can score in virtually any weather by tailoring your hunting tactics to the conditions. Here’s how.
Day 1: Heavy Rains
Turkeys don’t mind light showers, but a hard rain curbs gobbling and may even silence toms completely. Birds often seek overhead shelter.
Hunting Tactics: During the downpour, slowly walk the edges of pine stands and other sheltered areas, stopping frequently to make hen calls. As soon as the rain abates, work field edges and logging roads where turkeys go to dry off and pick bugs.
Best Calls: Yelp on a wet-playing box call to strike a bird. Then switch to soft clucks and purrs on a wet-playing slate.
Day 2: High Winds
Gusty conditions typically make turkeys nervous.
Hunting Tactics: If you’re the patient type, simply stake a couple of decoys in a high-traffic area and wait for birds to show. Otherwise, focus on seeing turkeys rather than hearing them. Glass fields and open woodlots to spot a gobbler, then carefully stalk to within 100 yards to set up and call.
Best Calls: Volume is everything under these conditions. Make loud, clear yelps, cutts, and cackles on a boat-paddle box or a crystal pot-and-peg call.
Day 3: Sunny, Unseasonably Warm
Turkeys will be active early in the day, but as the sun climbs, they’ll seek shade and reduce both movement and gobbling.
Hunting Tactics: Roost a gobbler the evening before your hunt. In the morning, move in as close as you dare well before first light. If your dawn setup fails, head for shaded north-facing slopes near water sources, especially if the weather’s been dry.
Best Calls: Aggressive calling can produce at sunup, but back off when the birds quiet down later. Start with a mouth call or a crystal, aluminum, or glass pot-and-peg call. Switch to a mellower slate or seasoned box as temperatures rise.
Day 4: Snowstorms
Most toms will come down with at least a mild case of lockjaw and won’t resume gobbling in earnest until the sun shines again.
Hunting Tactics: Use the snow to your advantage by looking for fresh tracks to point you to birds. When you strike a tom, gauge his mood first. Get into position and call if he’s hot. If he’s merely gobbling and moving away, circle to set up an ambush.
Best Calls: Clear bell-like tones, like those from a nonraspy double-reed diaphragm call, carry well under these wintry conditions. Start fairly quiet and subdued; crank up the volume only if you must to fire up a cold tom.