- Chris Campanelli
Hunting Turkeys in the Rain
Rain is an inevitable aspect of spring turkey hunting. They say that April showers bring May flowers, you know. Unfortunately for turkey hunters, we want to be in the field and on the hunt throughout the month of April.
Resulting in an inevitable clash between turkey hunting and spring weather. This seems like an obvious and irrelevant reality to be talking about, but hear us out on this one. Talking rain and turkey hunting is an important thing to touch on. Whether you’re an experienced turkey hunter or a newbie, it’s good to be reminded that rain is a good thing.
OK, maybe I channeled a little too much Luke Bryan there. Rain may not be a good thing when it comes to turkey hunting, but it can definitely help you out in the right situations. Seasoned turkey hunters know this and capitalize on it each and every season as other hunters pack it in and head for breakfast when the raindrops fall.
There are certain situations when turkeys will respond positively to a light rain. A light rain is the key. We’re not saying that hunting in a downpour is a good idea. Not all rain is created equal when it comes to successful turkey hunting.
Let’s be honest, we’d all choose clear skies and sunshine for every turkey hunt in an ideal world. Sunny, high-pressure (barometric) days are always going to be the best when it comes to firing up the gobblers. Birds are always going to be more vocal and active when it’s nice out.
But with a shorter season and limited days to hunt, you can’t let a light rain chase you out of the turkey woods. You just have to relocate to a good, open field and let the turkeys come to you.
A lot of folks don’t realize that turkeys actually respond a bit differently to rain than common sense would suggest. You would think that they would head for cover like most animals do, but turkeys do the opposite. Turkeys will often head for clearings to escape the noisy woods during a rain, and they’ll hit those fields to grub on bugs and worms. IF the rain is not wind-driven and relentless.
If you read any amount of our turkey content here at Affiliated Outdoors, you know how much respect we have for a wild turkey’s eyesight. We always say that turkeys are creatures of eyesight. They lean on those eyes for safety on those rainy days, because their ears can be deceived by the rain pounding the leaves in the woods.
An open field is going to be much quieter than the hardwoods, so turkeys will naturally migrate to those fields during a rain. Again, not in all rains and at all times. Timing is a big key when it comes to turkey hunting in the rain. If the rain is pouring before or right at daylight, turkeys have been known to stay on the limb and remain on roost. If it starts after the birds have pitched off of the roost, they will likely hit those open fields.
Hunting turkeys in the rain is definitely a fickle game with a good amount of factors that can make or break it. Besides the timing factor and locating over open fields, hunters need to remember that rain can make turkeys a bit less vocal. Any cloudy day has a good chance of shutting turkeys up.
That doesn’t mean that they aren’t out and about or even liable to stroll into your setup. It means that you have to be on full alert as those sneaky old toms can slip their way into your lap on a wet and cloudy morning. Not offering as much as a gobble or two to wake you up before they’re within eyesight.
That also means that you can over or under-call to gobblers on rainy days. You hear nothing so you decide to hammer that call a bit extra. That may force that older longbeard to hang up and wait for a hen to emerge. You may also fall behind in terms of volume if you fail to get loud on a rainy hunt.
With rain falling and winds often making matters worse, it’s important to get loud. A lot of hunters like to go to louder friction calls like boxes or pot-style slate or glass calls. That definitely helps, but remember that a lot of friction calls aren’t made for the rain. Unless you have a rain-proof friction call, and there are a ton of them out there now, just use that diaphragm call and raise your volume.
As a final point for the rainy day turkey hunter to consider, try to remain more visual in terms of your hunting tactics. Use your eyes more than your ears on rainy spring hunts. It’s our natural tendency to rely upon our ears as we track the gobbles coming from across the landscape. As we mentioned, they won’t be as vocal on rainy days. You’re going to have to put eyes on that turkey before you will hear him- at least on most rainy days.
Just remember that rain definitely does not outright kill your turkey hunt. Obviously nothing is guaranteed all of the time, but rain can be a good thing.