Singin' in the Rain
Singin' in the Rain
50 degrees, hard drizzling rain and a steady 5 to 10 knot wind isn't the preferred turkey hunting weather combination; warm spring mornings with still air are much more desirable to the average turkey hunter. All is not lost on these less than appealing days, turkeys are on the ground every day.
It had been an awful long and cold morning. Lack of activity from the roost had left David Bryan and I less than thrilled about our mid day chances at a longbeard. A steady rain had predictably hushed the birds and made a mess out of my usual spring outfit of mossy oak break-up. With only one day remaining open on our favorite Wildlife Management Area it was now or never to take a big gobbler that had eluded us two season's running.
Over a hot cup of coffee and some southern barbecue we rethought our plan for the afternoons hunt. This nasty late spring cold front was testing both our staying power as hunters and our knowledge. In the past both David and I had notice turkeys moving to food plot areas during foul weather. While we weren't thrilled about setting up an ambush style hunt we thought this was our best bet for getting into shooting range of the graveyard gobbler.
For two years the graveyard bird had dodged every attempt at bagging him. Without fail he always made just the right move at the last minute allowing him to survive another day in the face of many skilled turkey hunters. This pompous bird had all the nerve. Regularly he would strut in plain view of the highway in the back of an old graveyard ; local hunters chatted about his bold ways and laughed about his unusual luck.
We set out, already wet and cold not at all certain that this day we would take him. Our method would be to sit and wait for his late afternoon pre fly up feeding. Dave and I set up on opposing sides of the graveyard , the back of which nestles right up to a food plot. Our calling strategy had gone out the window with this bird as literally dozens of hunters had already sung to him this season. Low pressure clucking that would immitate a feeding hen was the only answer.
I pulled up short of the graveyard about ten yards and found the best protection from the elements I could afford , a small pine sapling with a thick amount of branches. Staying out of the open for this turkey set up held new meaning, the truck looked like a better blind to my shivering eyes. Diaphragm installed I began to sing a comforting clucking cadence that should have told our quieted birds that feeding time was on. Our quarry had other ideas about this rainy day.
Hammered, that's what I call it when a longbeard absolutely drowns your calls out. On cluck number thirty something Mr. graveyard bellowed out a series of three gobbles from the ravine just beyond the food plot. What is this I think , this bird has absolutely lost his brain . No turkey in his right mind gobbles on a day like today and this ones tripling. I nervously resumed a single cluck cadence and continued to witness this freak of nature.
In typical fashion, the graveyard gobbler eased just 55 paces past David. Frustrated by the uncanny luck of this bird again, Dave watched as dripping wet the bird threw his neck out to my continued clucking. As the gobbler reached the edge of the food plot the sky opened up into a full blown downpour. Visibility slacked and even Dave at 60 yards could barely make out the still strutting longbeard.
By now my shaking had increased to never before felt levels. No I wasn't building a good case of turkey fever I was absolutely soaked to the bone and freezing! With no view of the gobbler possible from my position over 150 yards away and the absence of any more gobbles I was sure he had retreated to the woods. Pounding rain and uncontrollable shivering were getting the best of me. I again wrestled with the idea of retreating to the truck . I decided to wait for Dave. This decision, dumb as it sounds made the hunt.
Chattering teeth made clucking useless , my calling was over for the day. Easing my hand up I removed my diaphragm and prepared it for storage. I turned my head to pick up the call container to my right and right there 25 yards from me is a still strutting gobbler! In the cover of hard rain my movements had been forgiven.An Eastern Wild Turkey in full strut is one of nature's finest examples however, this example was just plain ugly. Matted feathers, muddy feet and an extremely dull backdrop made this an ugly sight to see. I eased my cheek down to my gun and silently removed my safety. Cold no longer, I fired a load of number 6's just below his head. Down for the count!
I jumped up and ran to the flopping gobbler hooting and hollering all the way. I just couldn't believe it, no turkey let alone hunter would ever have imagined this hunt. Adding more mud to his already road kill look, the gobbler took his last flop. Quickly Dave joined me at our hard earned prize.Laughing uncontrollably, we both stood in the graveyard in total disbelief of this foul looking foul weather gobbler.
For proof of this oddest of turkey hunts we took a quick photo in the graveyard and headed back to the local check station for more coffee. We were greeted by warm turkey hunters enjoying the dry interior and tall tales, but on this nasty day the story to tell, was of two soaking wet turkey hunters and one locally famous bird that headed to the graveyard the last time!
Since that day, Dave and I have harvested several more wet birds. Our strategy remains the somewhat same, food source in the late afternoon, low impact calling, but we now carry a change of clothes and rain gear, along with a towel to dry off our trophies! Have a gobbler that you just can't take? Try a rainy day, he wont be expecting you.
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John Coit Old South Outdoors