turkey hunting in the rain

Trio of Osceola Longbeards Gobbling in the Rain!

It is inevitable, your going to wake up one morning full of anticipation, all braced for a great morning in the spring gobbler woods and your going find the weather has turned foul and it is thundering and spitting rain. Are you going to roll over and drift off to sleep or are you going to man up and go kick some turkey butt?

How Does Rainy Weather Effect Roosted Turkeys?

The main thing you need to know and remember about a roosted turkey on a rainy morning is that they are not going to be in any hurry to get on the ground. Typically, the birds are going to hang-up on the limb much later than usual and many times will not fly down until after 8:00-8:30.

Strangely enough, fog does not seem to effect their fly down time nearly as much as the rain. I could not count the times I’ve had a gobbler fly down in conditions that were so foggy that you could not see 20yds!

What is the Single Best Thing You Can Do to Increase Your Odds of  Taking a Tom on a Rainy Day hunt?

This tip applies to all situations as far as improving you odds for success. However, it is especially important if you want to have a shot at harvesting a bird when bad weather moves in.

As with any turkey hunt, If you can have a bird roosted for the next mornings hunt you are ahead of the game. Al though  roosted does not necessarily mean roasted! This all depends on the timing of the approaching front. If the front arrives late in the afternoon, the pressure drops and the humidity builds, you can bet there is going to be no gobbling to be heard from the limb.

          “ A drop in pressure and rise in humidity will kill gobbling!”         (from the book of Larry)

If you are lucky and the weather holds off until after dark, chances are you will be able to get a bird roosted. Once the front has arrived you probably will not be able to buy a gobble come daylight but you will know right where to be sitting when he flies down.

Where is The Best Place to Find Turkeys on a Rainy Day!

One of the greatest benefits to rainy weather is the ability to easily find birds. Under no other conditions will the birds be so visible and easy to locate. All you need to do is go to the nearest pasture or field to find a turkey. Open woods can be a good bet also but the best places are fields, pastures, powerlines and graded roads, etc..

I believe turkeys prefer to be in the open on rainy days for two reasons. Number one is that a turkey walking thru wet bushes gets wetter and standing in the open and will dry quicker when the weather subsides. The second reason is that his hearing ability is diminished during windy wet weather and he can put his best sense to greatest use, his eye sight!

How Does Foul Weather Effect Gobbling Activity?

The answer to this question is three fold. To understand it you must look at the progression of a storm event. Basically, a storm can be broken down into three periods as it relates to gobbling. The initial approach of the storm which may be accompanied by wind and thunder. This is probably the period that is best waited out, the high winds subdue gobbling and make it very difficult to hear even if the bird does gobble at the thunder. The second period involves the bulk of the rain. Turkeys will either be in some very open woods or other type of open ground such as a pasture, woods road, powerline, etc.. This will make them relatively easy to locate but not necessarily easy to call. The third period begins as the rain begins to slack off and the thundering is becoming more distant. This is the period you want to concentrate on. Game is always more active immediately after a rain has ended and the thunder in the distance will usually have the toms gobbling, sometimes fiercely!

I have seen it written time and again that the wet weather makes it much easier to approach a turkey….. Let me assure you, this is not the case! True, you can move more quietly when the ground is wet but a turkey lives on his eye sight, not his hearing! A turkey’s eye sight is truly incredible, do not underestimate it under any conditions, even in high wind. Commit this tip to memory as it will serve you well one day, a turkey can pick you out in high wind even better than times of no wind! The reason is that your form does not move naturally with the back and fourth motion of the swaying foliage. If you are still and the bushes are moving you stick out just as if you were moving through still woods, maybe even worse.

At times this can be some of the best times to hear a turkey gobble but more often it will have the calling subdued. Thunder is one thing that can really get a gobbler going. It is not a guaranteed thing that every tom in the woods will be hammering at every clap of thunder but more often than not he’s going to gobble. At times it can be some of the hottest gobbling activity you will ever hear.

On the flip side of this are the times when you have 2-3 days of light rain. Calling during this type of weather will typically be off but again, the birds will be very visible and are huntable. This is one of the few times I would prefer to be in a pop-up style blind.

The ideal situation is to have a day that is misty to light sprinkling. The turkeys will be more workable and it will be more comfortable for you as well. All of the standard calling and hunting tactics pretty much apply here except that the turkeys are going to be confined to open spaces.

Which Turkey Calls work best for a Wet Weather Hunt?

There are many types of waterproof calls available on the market today. Actually, there is pretty much a wet proof version of all the most popular style calls. Obviously, the diaphragm call is unaffected by water  (or spit). The slate and striker and the box call being two of the most popular. If you get caught in a pinch you could operate your call with a plastic bag over it. A grocery bad or large zip lock will due the trick.

However, the call that really shines here is the diaphragm! It is probably the most difficult to learn to use but the advantages are great. I prefer a diaphragm over all calls and it is my primary call.

What Are The Benefits of Using Decoys When Hunting Turkeys in The Rain?

Personally, I do not recommend using decoys as much as a lot of people. The main reason for that is I like to set up very close to a roosted Gobbler. I can’t tell you how many I have shot that flew down and landed in my lap and I never made a call! When you slip in this close you cannot afford the added commotion of trying to set up a decoy. It will be all you can do to get yourself set up! Also, I like to do a lot of moving. One of my favorite hunting partners, Steve Bailey dubbed it “sneakin’ & peakin’!” I don’t hunt without some glass around my neck! I love to slip down a road glassing around bends, etc., prospecting for a gobbler.

However, a rainy day is better suited for staying put, blinding up and guarding a couple decoys on a field. This is even more effective than under normal conditions. The main reason for this is that all of the turkeys are going to be in the open where they can see your decoys! Another benefit is that you nor the turkeys will be able to hear very well so calling is not going to help you as much as the usual. You need to take full advantage of his eye sight and pull him in with the decoys!

How to Stay Comfortable on a Rainy Day Turkey Hunt?

Good Quality light weight, breathable rain gear is a must if you want to stay comfortable on a foul weather hunt. If you are soaked to the bone and cold, chances are your not going to last to long in the woods that morning. Being comfortable effects your mental game and that is very important under any conditions.

If there was ever a day that was made for hunting from a blind it is a rainy day! This is the place to consider taking advantage of a “Turkey hunting Blind” that will put a roof over your head and keep the weather off of you. Plus, If you are into self videoing your hunts, this is about the only way you are going to be able to get any filming in on a day like this.

If there is a silver lining in waking up to a rainy day turkey hunt it is that most hunters are not going to brave the elements when the rain sets in. You are probably going to have the woods and the turkeys to yourself!

Dress for the conditions, bring a couple calls that you can run in the rain and look for the birds to be in open country! You can’t kill em’ sittin’ on the couch!

Good Luck Guys!
Larry Stephens

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