Getting up early to meet turkeys at their roost can be hard enough on the perfect day. Nasty spring weather often will send hunters back under the covers. But turkey hunting in wind and rain isn’t futile if you adjust your tactics. In fact, sometimes bad weather can even be good.
Not all wet days affect turkeys the same way. Some rainy conditions actually make turkeys gobble more, whereas others shut them up. Thunder shocks toms into sounding off; steady drizzle and overcast skies seem to prolong gobbling activity well into the day. When the sun breaks through the clouds after a heavy storm, toms gobble hard to make up for lost time.
On the other hand, a steady rain, especially a cold one, shuts gobbling down. Turkeys sit longer on the roost. What to do? Hunt open fields, like pastures and short alfalfa. In this kind of weather, turkeys would rather walk in short vegetation so that their feathers won’t drag through sodden grass and underbrush. They prefer open spaces where they can see predators that might otherwise slip up on them undetected in the wet woods. Stake out a field if you know birds use it. Or move quietly, glassing open areas for birds. Once you spot them, spend a few minutes determining their line of march. Get around them, set up, and call. Be patient; they may not respond as quickly as on a nice day, but they’ll come.
Keep your box call in a sealed plastic bag in wet weather, and use acrylic or graphite strikers on your pot calls. And here’s a post-hunt tip: Soggy turkeys photograph like something the cat dragged in. Spend a few minutes drying the feathers with a blow-dryer before you take pictures.
While rainy-day hunting can be surprisingly good, everyone hates hunting in the wind. You can’t hear birds, they can’t hear you, and the rustle of branches whipping back and forth masks the sounds of sneaky predators, turning turkeys spooky. Birds will take cover in hollows or depressions out of the bluster, where they can hear. Move from one sheltered spot to the next, set up, and be loud. Box calls and the little-used tube generate plenty of volume for making yourself heard in a strong breeze. Keep your gun up and stay alert. Chances are you won’t hear them coming.
When you spot a turkey, use the wind’s roar to screen the sound of your approach. A few years ago, on a day of 25-mile-per-hour gusts, a friend and I watched a bird land and run into a tiny, sheltered woodlot. Under cover of the wind, we made a wide detour and crept in to set up close to where we’d spotted him. The woods themselves were very quiet in contrast to the surrounding fields. A few yelps brought the silent tom into range. It wasn’t easy, but it was a lot better than staying in bed.