Hunting Turkeys in the Rain, Plus a Turkey Hunting Video with Will Primos
Editor’s Note: I try never to hunt turkeys in a strong wind or a bad rain – two terrible weather conditions for hunting. But in the immortal words of one of the world’s greatest turkey hunters and callers, the late Ben Rodgers Lee, “You can’t kill a gobbler while sitting in camp.”
On a morning several years ago, rain hit the tin roof of our south Alabama hunting lodge with a steady roar instead of a gentle pitter-patter. I hoped my hunting buddy Don Taylor would roll over and stay asleep. I couldn’t believe anyone would intentionally go out into a downpour to chase a gobbler. But when Taylor asked, “You ready to go, John?” I knew he’d challenged my manhood. I didn’t offer any protest or demonstrate any weakness. “Yeah, sure,” I answered. “I can’t wait to get soaked to the skin, have water come over my boot tops and expect to hear a turkey gargle instead of gobble.” Although I just had more sense than to get out in a driving rainstorm, I couldn’t let my hunting buddy down. I knew we wouldn’t bag any toms. However, Taylor had scouted the area and learned where a gobbler roamed.
To successfully hunt toms in bad weather, you must understand the turkeys’ daily routine. If you know where the turkeys roost, feed, strut and hang out, then you’ll have the odds in your favor. Even in bad weather during the spring of the year, turkeys still must feed, breed and roost. Then generally as soon as the rain stops, the turkeys will go to open fields to dry their feathers. On this particular day, Taylor and I drove his truck as close as we could to a power line right-of-way where he’d seen a big gobbler feeding just afterfly-down time. We parked the truck close to the power line, so we wouldn’t have to walk any further than we had to in the rain. Finally, 45 minutes after fly-down time, we saw a black dot off in the distance down the right-of-way. Through our binoculars, we determined that the big gobbler Taylor had watched before the season stood before us.
“That bird never will hear a call in this driving rain,” I told Taylor, who still insisted on calling. But at the end of Taylor’s yelps and clucks, I saw the gobbler’s neck stick out and shake as a spray of water flew off his feathers and his neck vibrated. Through binoculars, I watched the tom gobbling, even though I couldn’t hear him. Tomy surprise, the turkey started walking toward us. Again, Taylor called. Once more I saw the turkey answer. I whispered to Taylor, “Here we sit in this driving rain with you calling and a turkey coming to us – unbelievable.” “Hush, John, and get ready for the shot,” Taylor instructed.
The gobbler came at a trot now, hoping to get this breeding over with before he got any wetter. Fifty yards from where I crouched under a cedar tree, the tom stopped, stuck his neck straight up and then ran away from us. Covered in camouflage from head to toe and never having moved a muscle, I couldn’t understand what had spooked the bird. After Taylor and I discussed the problem, we decided to go where we’d spooked the bird on the right-of-way and try to see what the turkey had seen. When we arrived at the spot where the gobbler had stopped, we looked back toward the woods. We saw a bright flash of light. Apparently, we’d parked the truck so close to the right-of-way that the turkey could see the windshield and the truck’s mirror as the day brightened-up. Not willing to give up on the turkey, we climbed to the top of the ridge where the turkey had run along the bottom. We hoped to get out in front of the bird and try to call him up the mountain to us. When we found a good calling position, we again sat down and called to the gobbler in the driving rain.
Learn more about hunting legendary gobblers from John E. Phillips’ library of turkey-hunting books, including “The Turkey Hunter’s Bible,” “Turkey Tactics,” “Outdoor Life’s Complete Turkey Hunting,” “The Masters’ Secrets of Turkey Hunting” and “Hunter’s Specialties’ PhD Gobblers.” To learn more about these hunting books and others, visit www.nighthawkpublications.com/hunting/hunting.htm, or call 205-967-3830.