Turkey Hunting in the Rain

by Darron McDougal

Is your morning over when the floodgates open?

At dawn, incessant gobbling had my eyes glued to the timber. I was overlooking a dirt field from a Double Bull Darkhorse blind, and accompanying me was my good friend, Brian. Suddenly, the showers came. We’ll never know if the tom continued gobbling because the rain peppering our blind was deafening. Boy, was I thankful for the shelter the blind roof provided from the torrential onslaught, which continued for approximately 15-20 minutes. Turkey hunting in the rain can be tough, but we were up for the challenge.

The rain gradually diminished, and as it did, we heard the gobbler sound off again. I coaxed with my slate call, hoping he’d entered the dirt field to investigate our decoys. It worked. The gobbling progressively became louder and louder.

When the bird appeared 40 yards away, he was half-strutting and walking slowly toward my decoys. When he reached easy, top-pin bow range, I was waiting for him to approach the decoys so I could get a slam-dunk shot where Brian could capture the hunt on camera. However, the wise tom held tight. I would’ve had to make a big move in order to shoot, so I waited to avoid possibly spooking him.

Without warning, the gobbler turned quickly and was leaving, or so he thought. I rolled onto my knees, drew my bow, and led the bird by several inches to account for his fast walk. I shot, and the arrow instantly anchored him. Once again, like many times before and many times since, I was glad I ignored the forecast and went turkey hunting in the rain.

turkey-hunting-in-rain
Gloomy conditions may keep some folks in bed, but the author won’t take a morning off unless conditions are unsafe.

Stay Dry When Turkey Hunting in the Rain

The least alluring part of hunting turkeys in the rain is that you’ll most likely become soaked. With the right gear, however, it doesn’t need to be this way.

A quality ground blind with waterproof fabric is a must-have item if you plan to regularly hunt in the rain. I always go for the Primos Double Bull Darkhorse, and I’ve recently added the all new SurroundView 270 to my arsenal. Double Bull blinds set up and take down in seconds, and they withstand the wear and tear I impose on them. Best of all, they provide great comfort during chilly, damp hunts.

If you want to be more mobile, consider a waterproof hunting getup, including a neoprene seat cushion to keep your fanny dry. The only problem with this setup is that your gun or bow can become soaked.

When you finish hunting turkeys in the rain, its crucial to always address your wet weapon. For shotgunners, this means disassembling your gun and wiping it dry with a clean cloth. I follow up with a rag wetted with a gun cleaner such as Remington’s Rem Oil.

When my bow gets wet, I wipe as much water away as possible with a dry, clean cloth. Then, I prop it in front of a fan so that the remaining water/moisture dries quickly. This will alleviate chances for rust and corrosion, which could later cause pops and squeaks. Bottom line: take care of your equipment promptly after hunting in the rain to ensure optimal performance.

turkey hunting in the rain
Rain, and freezing rain, can be brutal on your gear. Be sure to check your gear regularly when it’s raining to make sure it will perform when the opportunity arises.

To Call or Not to Call When Turkey Hunting in the Rain

Most would assume that weather determines a gobbler’s demeanor. This isn’t always true.

One example was a late-morning hunt in a pasture. The morning had dawned beautiful, but birds didn’t cooperate at my first location. And now, the conditions turned sour; one minute it was sunny, the next it was raining and windy.

On my way home around 10 a.m., I decided to hunt for two more hours. I pulled up near a farm and packed my blind, decoys and shotgun out into an abandoned pasture. It’s a place where turkeys travel through at various times throughout the day.

After setting up, my first calling attempts went unanswered. Tired from rising early for the past several consecutive mornings, I laid down to rest in the bottom of the blind. Just as I began to doze off, a gobble jolted my senses. “Was that actually a tom, or was I dreaming?” I questioned.

I popped in a mouth call and went to work. Sure enough, the tom fired back. Game on. I continued calling, and each time he responded. Clearly, he was coming in. I kept calling aggressively, and he was just lighting it up.

Suddenly, he appeared just beyond my decoys. When he reached 55 yards, he strutted back and forth. Ideally, I wanted him closer, though I knew my gun could ace that shot. It soon became obvious that he was soon going to leave, so I lined up my sights and let my Benelli bark. The tom crumpled right there.

bowhunting turkeys from a ground blind
A ground blind is a great way to dodge the elements and keep your calls performing flawlessly.

With that example in mind, it’s wise to feel out a bird’s temperament before deciding to call or not call. If he wants to talk, calling can be very effective. But if he’s quiet, it’s often wiser to position yourself in a path he’ll likely travel and then let your decoys do the rest.

I did this one frigid April morning in freezing rain. I’d positioned my blind 10 yards off a logging road that birds travel after they fly down from the roost, and then put two hen decoys in the road. Once I settled in, it was almost breaking daylight when two gobbles rang out, which confirmed the birds were roosted exactly where I hoped they’d be.

I gave a few tree yelps, then put my calls away. The toms weren’t responding, so there was little need to call. I kept scanning back and forth when a black bump with a rope came into view. The tom was approaching silently, slinking through the forest with stealth. I grabbed my bow and release with cold, purple hands to prepare for the shot.

When he went behind a tree, I drew. He popped out and then paused, and my arrow’s arrival caused a feathery blur that ended 15 yards away just seconds later.

Honestly, that hunt was one of the most miserable in terms of weather and comfort. However, it resulted in grins and a heap of succulent wild poultry that I put to good use. If I’d waited for ideal weather, I may have had to eat my tag instead.

turkey hunting in the rain
The author nailed this nice longbeard from a well-placed blind one April morning during freezing rain.

Rain or Shine

Turkeys are very unpredictable in how they respond to weather events. For example, I’ve heard toms rattle their throats off during rain and thunder, but I’ve also seen crummy weather shut down their interest in breeding.

The biggest thing to remember is that you won’t kill a gobbler in your bed. If you really want to notch that tag, you must get out there and hunt every chance you get. Of course, I prefer to hunt turkeys in beautiful, bluebird weather, but a filled tag is a filled tag, and even a rainy-day gobbler can provide an exciting hunt.

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