John's Journal... Entry 244, Day 2
HUNTING GOBBLERS IN ANY WEATHER
Larry Norton And The Wind
Editor's Note: The rain beat on the tin roof of the camphouse like machine gunfire. I couldn't believe the rain pouring down on this opening morning of turkey season. But because my friend Don Taylor of Birmingham, Alabama, and I wouldn't miss hunting on opening morning, regardless of the weather, we braved the windy and wet weather outside. Finally at 11:00 a.m., after rain had soaked me from the tip of my head to the soles of my feet, we found a lonesome gobbler in a cow pasture and called him in to the gun. I prefer not to hunt in the rain, wind or snow or under drought conditions, but like most hunters, I have to hunt when I get the opportunity, whether the weather conditions favor hunting or not. Often, I'll get a dose of bad weather on many of the turkey hunts I go on each spring. I always carry an extra bag with me with raingear, snowsuits and suntan lotion, because I've learned through the years that bad weather follows me wherever I hunt. This week, some turkey hunters who take toms under good and bad weather conditions will tell us their tactics for taking birds in any weather.
Many people think Larry Norton of Pennington, Alabama, a World Turkey Calling Champion, probably began hunting turkeys three days after he learned to walk. "Loud calls, a compass and a weather radio will help you take a tom when the wind blows," Norton advises. "I prefer to hunt into the wind because then if a turkey gobbles, I can hear him. The wind will bring his gobbling to me rather than carry it away from me. Also if you call into the wind, a turkey may misjudge your distance from him. Because the sound of your call travels away from him, he'll think you're calling from farther away. When you hunt with the wind at your back, that wind will carry your calls much farther, too. However, when you take a stand, you'll have to wait longer for the bird to show up than if you call into the wind. If you call with the wind at your back, you may not hear the turkey as he gobbles, and he even may come in silently. Also, when you call with the wind at your back, the turkey may think you're calling from closer to him than you are. Then the gobbler may hang-up, strut and not come within your gun range."
According to Norton, the wind also can push your calls to the right or to the left. If the wind quarters to your right, the bird may think you're standing farther to the right than you actually are. When you spot him, you may have to throw your call to the left to steer the tom in to you. The wind makes determining where a sound comes from much more difficult for the turkey. "I called on the edge of a big clear-cut last year and had the wind to my back when I spotted a turkey running as hard as he could on the other side of the clear-cut," Norton recalls. "The bird stopped and turned to face a hollow on his side of the clear-cut. Through my binoculars, I could see the turkey's neck stick out each time he gobbled. The turkey gobbled down in the hollow away from me. Every time I yelped, the turkey looked down into the hollow and gobbled. I finally decided the wind was carrying my call across the clear-cut and down into the hollow and bouncing the sound back towards the clear-cut. So the gobbler thought he was gobbling to a hen on the opposite side of the hollow. When I finally figured out what was happening to my calls, I circled the field, got down in the hollow, called into the wind to the turkey and had him come right to me.
"The wind can play tricks with your calls. To effectively hunt into the wind, you have to realize what the wind does to your call, where it makes the call go and how that gobbler relates to that call. You need to use calls that will cut through the wind with a lot of volume and sharp pitches to get out to the gobbler. When hunting into the wind, you'll have the advantage of not having to sit as still as you normally will. You more easily can move your gun barrel without a turkey's seeing you when the wind blows than when no wind blows."
TOMORROW: SNOW GOBBLERS AND BOB WOZNIAK