As a rule turkeys gobble best on clear, calm, high-pressure mornings in the spring. Stand on a ridge or bluff at dawn and you're apt to hear birds gobbling a mile or more away in all directions.
Not only can you hear well on a nice day, your calls also ring true and carry far. Any mouth or friction call works well. Since yelps and cutts carry nicely, you don't have to hammer away on calls. Soft to moderately loud calling is most realistic.
In the fall flocks are vocal on calm days. Pause on a hardwood ridge and you might hear birds clucking, yelping and purring 200 to 400 yards away. Listen for birds flying down from a roost, or scratching in the leaves for feed.
About the only down side to a calm day is that turkeys might hear you coming and spook, especially when the fallen leaves are dry and deep in October or November. In this case try to walk along field edges, logging roads and the like. Pause often to call and listen for turkeys calling back or scratching.
Wind is the bane of turkey hunters. For one thing birds don't gobble very much after they're been whipped around in trees all night. Same thing in the fall; birds don't feel like roost clucking or yelping much after windy nights. Even if birds gobble or yelp a few times you probably can't hear those calls because of a stout breeze.
Here are a few ways to fight the wind. ·
Hunt early in the morning. The wind often dies at dawn and stays down for an hour or so before it starts to whistle again.
Check for single birds or flocks roosted on the lee sides of ridges, hills or points.
In midmorning and afternoon, check for strutters or flocks loafing in hollows, draws, creek bottoms and other low, wind-broken habitats.
Use friction calls. High-pitched box and pot-peg calls seem to pierce to wind better than diaphragms.
If a turkey gobbles back at your calls, set up quickly and be ready. Since the wind limits your hearing a tom is likely closer than he sounds.
Turkey hunting is poor in heavy rain. The birds are neither vocal nor active, so there's really no reason to get out there and get drenched. But say one morning a low front passes through. The sky brightens and the sun pops out after a night of downpours or storms. Hit the woods! In the spring many toms start gobbling for hens. And in the fall flocks begin to move around and feed.
If it's misty, foggy or raining lightly put on a rain jacket and go hunting. Some toms gobble great on gray days.
On rainy mornings in the spring turkeys tend to stay in their roost trees longer than normal. I've called to gobblers that didn't fly down until 7:30 or even 8:00 a.m. Same thing in the fall-flocks linger in trees well after first light. Keep this in mind as you walk around and call.
Fields, food plots, power line rights-of-way and similar open areas are great places to check for single turkeys or flocks on rainy days. Many turkeys don't like to hang around in dripping woods, largely because their hearing is impaired. They move out into openings where they can hear better. Also the birds try to avoid water-soaked brush and saplings.
Forget about using wooden box calls or natural slates with wooden pegs-they won't ring true on rainy or misty days. Use a diaphragm or an aluminum or glass pot with a carbon striker. Of course diaphragm or tube calls work okay.
Snow is not uncommon if a state's fall turkey season runs into December. And every once in a while you might run into some white stuff on a spring hunt in the Midwest, North or West. A couple of years ago I hunted in New Mexico in May. One night it snowed a foot, and the next morning the toms gobbled like crazy!
Expect turkeys to roost in warm, sheltering evergreen trees on cold, snowy nights. Pockets of pines or cedars on the lee sides of hills or ridges are great places to check for birds. The next morning the turkeys will stay in the trees longer than normal. When they fly down, toms often linger beneath the conifers to strut or feed where the ground is bare.
Try tracking turkeys in snow. Look for fresh tracks and upturned leaves where birds raked for food. Keep a sharp eye ahead. Turkeys are easy to see against a canvas of snow. But then so are you! To keep roosted or feeding birds from spotting you, move slowly and use ridges, draws and other terrain breaks for cover.
If it's still snowing lightly when you hunt, use a diaphragm, tube, aluminum or glass call. Keep wooden calls and strikers in your vest because they'll be affected the moisture.
In the spring the sun is intense and the days heat up rapidly, especially in the South. Whenever I hunt in Texas, Mississippi, Florida, etc., I key on shady cover beginning around 10 a.m. or so. When the temperature soars into the 70s or 80s and the sun shimmers on the black backs of toms, they often move into cool, shadowy creek bottoms, oak hammocks, live oak mottes and the like. Sneak close to these strutting/loafing areas and crow call or cutt-you're likely to make a turkey shock gobble.