WEATHER OBSTACLES FOR THE TURKEY OPENER

Spring might have sprung in your zip code, but do you really think winter won’t return just enough to make you grab the snow shovel one more time?

Even if you live south of the Snow Belt, the clashing masses of warm and cold air have the potential to spur severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and wind events of biblical proportions. This might sound like the hopeful wishes of a Weather Channel forecaster’s dream, but face it—it could be your turkey season. I can’t tell you how many times during the past several years I’ve awoke to a foot of snow during turkey season.

If you’re thinking weather issues are about to invade your spring turkey hunt, remember that tweaking your strategy could be the difference between fresh drumsticks or refrigerator leftovers. Think positive about putting some real turkey meat on the grill this spring.

Here are some strategies to help you out when the Weather Channel fails you:

Stay ahead of the weather. I turn to ScoutLook Weather to keep me abreast of forecasts, changing weather and precipitation updates. That allows me to consider strategies, or even consider skipping the hunt and rescheduling for a later date. Once you have the weather forecast in hand, match a strategy to the elements.

If it’s raining, look for turkeys along edges, in fields and in timber openings. Turkeys often retreat to edges or even open fields to use their eyes since the sound of raindrops on foliage hampers their hearing. In heavy rain they’ll hunker, but if it’s a light drizzle they might still stroll these locales.

If you know of a good feeding or strutting area in an open environment, it could also be a hotspot on a rainy day. And don’t forget to bring the ground blind for waterproof comfort. Unlike whitetails that skirt freshly placed ground blinds, turkeys don’t mind a ground blind put up on the spot.

If you find yourself in snow, look for turkeys in old winter haunts. Turkeys have remarkable memories of what areas offer comfort and will return to winter havens if the snow returns. Time and time again I’ve watched turkeys retreat to winter sanctuary for feed, and to ride out the storm. Check out farms, ranches and river valleys to find turkeys confused about the seasons. You can set up on them at the winter location or ambush themhem as they return to traditional spring habitat.

If wind invades your hunt, you need to act like a turkey: Find a windbreak. Turkeys will often find small canyons, ravines or other terrain features that block the wind. The wind also impedes their hearing and they don’t feel safe in an environment that’s always swaying. I once found a flock of turkeys hunkered behind a cattle windbreak while a nasty windstorm hampered our Wyoming hunt. Windbreaks like that also give you the perfect veil to sneak in close.

A few seasons back the winds howled on our South Dakota hunt, so I dived into the bottom of a canyon and put a primer in my CVA muzzleloading shotgun. I had to scratch my slate a bit louder, but over the whooshing winds I heard a distant gobble. Ten minutes later the smoke was clearing over a gobbler I would never have envisioned had I stayed on top of the canyons in the hurricane winds.

It’s spring, and the weather is as zany as the antics of a strutting tom, so change your strategies to put some drumsticks on your backyard grill this spring.


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