Everyone knows how volatile the weather has been across the Mid-South this spring. It has made good gobbling days hard to come by. It puts a real premium on understanding how turkeys react to various weather conditions if you’re going to fill your tag. A recent hunt really emphasized this fact for me. Every year, I donate a couple of hunting opportunities to worthy charities.
A retired veteran of the U.S. Postal Service, he now spends him time traveling around the world consulting foreign countries on the efficiency of their postal services. One month, he may be in Zimbabwe and the next month, the Caribbean. Juan informed me he had not hunted in 40 years and had not fired n a shotgun in about 20. He wanted to know if that morning before we started hunting could he fire the shotgun? That would be a no….. To add to the equation, the three days prior to our hunt were nothing but nonstop storms and heavy rains. The day prior to the hunt, Middle Tennessee was under multiple tornado and flash flood warnings.
Looking at the hourly predictions, it was apparent the rain would end around midnight and the day of our hunt would be sunny and bright though a little windy. Turkeys will typically roost in deep hollows and heavy cover(even conifers like cedars) to get protection from the elements. They will typically stay in the trees longer after rain and head to open areas to dry out and feed. Lots of water can mean lots of worms and this is candy to those turkeys. Studies also show they are less prone to gobble.
I picked up Juan at his home at 4:00 A.M. and we headed to Jamestown Creek. I decided we were going to set up in a ground blind on a recently planted field. The key to this location were the deep hollows on the east and south sides. These hollows would have been down wind from the severe storms and a likely roosting spot in the recent severe weather.
Juan and I set up my Ameristep Doghouse Ground Blind and got comfortable. The rising sun in the east was a welcome sign after the previous three days. As I suspected, we did not hear a thing that morning. I could almost imagine the bedraggled toms sitting in the trees trying to get there bearing. When I hunt these conditions, I try to throw out the occasional yelp and cut but it is basically a waiting game.
I had in mind that if we had not seen or heard any birds by 8:30, we were going to pack up and check out another couple of local fields where the birds are likely to head to dry out and feed. As planned, we stood up, packed up the blind, and started to head out. Just as we began moving, we both thought we heard a gobble in the hollow in front of us. I threw out a quick cut on my aluminum pot call(A great call in the wind) and got answered again!
Now comes the OH CRAP moment that all turkeys hunters have when they have to move and move fast. Out came the blind, back up it went, in went the chairs, and in went Juan and me!. I quickly, pulling a call out, I threw out a couple of yelps. Juan poked me in the side and whispered, “There he is!”. Standing about 70 yards away in the middle of the field was a big glistening Tennessee Tom. How he didn’t see, hear us, or bust is a testament to how quickly you can set up a blind.
For a first time turkey hunter, Juan did a really good job. The turkey strutted and fanned as he moved down the field. Juan had the gun up and was looking right through the red dot scope. I kept reminding him to breath. Purring and putting would stop him to fan as he really put on a show. At 40 yards, I yelped with my mouth(didn’t have time to put a mouth call in!) and the tom stopped and raised his head trying to figure out what was the godawful noise was. Juan pulled the trigger and down went the bird!