In fishing, the phrase “The wind is your friend!” often gets tossed around at this time of the year.
Out on the water, that may in fact be true as the wind of a springtime day moves the phytoplankton around which in turn moves the baitfish around which results in the predatory fish like bass, walleyes and stripers moving around too.
But when it comes to turkey hunting, you’ll rarely hear bleary eyed hunters do so as they grab a pre-hunt cup of coffee at the local diner and watch the TV weatherman forecasting a good old fashioned springtime blow.
Like it or not however, in active springs that feature frequent cold frontal passages and brewing storm systems, big winds are a common enemy of turkey hunters.
And when the wind blows, it’s something that hunters all across the country have to battle successfully.
If they want to burn their tag on a longbeard, that is.
One such hunter is Matt Morrett, the primary TV turkey hunting personality for Avian-X Decoys and Zink Game Calls.
As such he travels around the country each year making a living selling turkey calls and turning out top-end TV programs like Avian-X TV on the Sportsman Channel.
During those travels, Morrett admits that he has battled windy day gobblers on numerous occasions.
“I’ve (even been) to Alabama before where you get a cold front through (there) and they just shut down,” said Morrett. “I mean their mouths are shut.
“I think wind is the toughest thing about hunting any wild animal.”
Amen to that.
But none of that means that the annual spring game is put on hold however, at least from a wild turkey’s point of view.
“It’s not that they’re not trying to find hens, not that they’re not gobbling, not that they’re not trying to breed,” said Morrett. “But there’s so many things that go against you (as a turkey hunter) when it’s windy.”
“That’s because a turkey can’t see as well and he’s definitely jittery because he can’t hear as well.”
So how does a turkey hunter combat windy day gobblers?
One, by being armed with a loud call that can cut through the building gale, one like a Zink Turkey Calls Wicked Series crystal call.
The pot style friction call is made of Brazilian cherry wood while also adding the injection of acrylic into the wood, a mean combination for grabbing a longbeard’s attention.
Add in a crystal surface that offers high-pitch raspy sounds that are loud and proud and you’ve got a call that can reach out to gobblers at a longer range than many other calls are capable of doing.
A second key to tagging a mature longbeard when the wind is howling is to put yourself into areas where turkeys are known to roost, travel, feed and breed.
Because no matter what the spring conditions are – from a High Plains snowstorm to spring thunderstorms in the Southeast to triple-digit heat and drought in southern Texas – turkeys are going to continue to do what turkeys do each spring.
No matter how hard the wind decides to blow.
“Hens are going to go to the gobblers, they’re going to try to find food and they are going to try to find water,” said Morrett.
I’ve had personal experience in this department on a yearly basis, chasing gobblers on the southern Great Plains where the wind always seems to be blowing 20 mph or more.
That was the case several years ago when my North Texas turkey hunting pal Doug Rodgers and I traipsed across his turkey hunting lease not far from Wichita Falls, Texas on a wild spring afternoon.
With temps in the 80s and the sticky wind rolling off the Gulf of Mexico, the approach of a late spring cold front was destined to bring severe thunderstorms with big hail and tornadoes later on that evening.
But before that happened, Rodgers was determined to put yours truly on a good sized gobbler to help end a long drought on my turkey hunting scorecard.
Like a card shark with a couple of aces up his sleeve, Rodgers had a good idea of when and where the birds might be moving about on that howling April afternoon.
Armed with a custom built Lamar Williams boat paddle turkey box call, Rodgers kept working that call to noisy perfection.
Eventually, as we carefully made our way through a mesquite thicket, he lit up a couple of longbearded toms that could hear our loud calling even if we could barely hear their gobbling response.
In fact, at one point, the biggest tom of the pair actually seemed to come off his feet as he gobbled aggressively in response to Rodger’s calling on the box call.
But a gust of wind tore the wild music away from our ears and we couldn’t hear a single syllable of the old boy’s response even if our eyes told us something else.
Less than a half-hour later, however, our game of wild and windy chess was over as I tagged the Rio Grande bird and Rodgers put another mental notch on his paddle call, the kind of wind defeating instrument that Williams, a Starke, Fla., resident trained by the late great turkey call maker Neil Cost, specializes in turning out each year.
Truth be told, in all of the years that I’ve turkey hunted, I’ve never been on a spring hunt before or since with Rodgers where that butternut and cedar musical instrument wasn’t tucked away carefully in his turkey hunting vest.
Because it’s long-reaching melody is almost always necessary in Texas, a place where calm spring days are few and far between.
But Texas isn’t the only place that the wind blows during the spring season.
Alabama’s Eddie Salter, host of Turkey Man on the Sportsman Channel, has had plenty of blustery days out in the spring woods himself to develop a solid game plan of his own for tagging a windy day gobbler.
That strategy centers around loud, aggressive calling and carefully (and safely) moving into the wind so that the sounds that a wild turkey gobbler makes will travel to the hunter’s ears and not be torn away from them.
“What I try to do is get into an area where I know the birds are at and keep moving,” said Salter.
“And if I can, (in hilly terrain) I try to stay down below them. That way, if I can get a bird to gobble, chances are that I may hear him.”
The bottom line is that hearing a gobbler sound off is actually more than half the battle on a windy day.
Because any old tom that is close enough to be heard by a hunter in such conditions is not very far away indeed.
And when a bird is located all but in a hunter’s back pocket on such a howling springtime day, with any luck, Mr. Johnny Gobbler is about to earn a ride home in the back of the pickup truck as Salter is well known for saying.
No matter how hard the springtime wind blows and blows and blows.