My dad used to say the best time to go hunting is whenever you have time. While that old adage is true enough in today’s busy world, it’s also true that not all hunting times are equal–especially when it comes to spring turkeys.
Spring weather is fickle. But within the parade of ever-changing conditions reside some prime times for pursuing turkeys–circumstances that really encourage bird activity. This spring, get out and hunt during these seven ideal situations.
1) Clear Morning After Stormy Weather**
Bad weather–wind, clouds, sleet, rain–subdues turkey activity. But a morning promising the blue-skied dawn of a new high-pressure system can really kick-start the birds.
Get out extra early, listen for gobbles, and get right on the toms before too much light gives away your approach. The birds will be raring to go.
2) Low-Pressure System Approaching
Turkeys are able to sense when air pressure is dropping as a storm approaches, even if it’s still far off.
Monitor online weather maps: When lows are on the way, hit the woods the last full day before the system arrives. Turkeys will be on the move and feeding hard ahead of the storm. Sit along travel routes, at food plots, or in strut zones.
3) Calm-Down After a Blow**
Wild turkeys rely on their eyes and ears for safety. When a big gale inhibits hearing, the birds lie low–away from the gusts and out of sight–until the blast subsides. When it does, they come out to feed and breed.
Set up at grain stubble, a meadow, a green field, an oak flat, or another foraging area where hens will gather and gobblers will follow.
4) Breakout of a Warm, Sunny Afternoon**
Many spring afternoons are nicer than the mornings because the sun finally burns off dampness, moisture, and cloud cover. Turkeys take advantage of the resulting warmth and calm in the late afternoon.
When you see blue patches of sky developing, head to a meadow or field corner, set out a feeding hen decoy, and wait for a gobbler.
5) Gentle Rain or Mist
A gentle rain or mist doesn’t bother turkeys, though they tend to gravitate toward open areas where they can rely on their eyesight for protection and avoid having their hearing compromised in the dripping woods.
Hunt open fields, pastures, and meadows.
6) Clear Evening With a Light Breeze**
Late afternoon is a great time to hunt, where it’s legal. Drawback: These birds are on a hair trigger against danger. Cloudy, breezy conditions keep turkeys fidgety, while absolute stillness makes them ultra-suspicious. But a little breeze takes away the birds’ edge without making them too spooky.
Set up along travel lanes, or at feeding areas and strut zones, in the vicinity of roost areas.
7) Cool But Sunny Midmorning
Cold weather doesn’t dampen gobblers’ breeding urge, and abundant sunlight keeps toms on the move, searching for hens. Gobblers dutifully follow hens on frosty mornings, but by sunny midmornings, the ladies have lost interest or are on their nest.
Move out and troll for an active tom. Stop and call often. Look and listen a lot. Never skyline yourself. Peek over hilltops, and around woods corners and trail turns.