Turkey Hunting: Barometric Blues

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I preface this article by saying that I am not a meteorologist.  While I do pay attention to the weather in the spring turkey season, and strategize my hunting around the forecast, I am still a young pup in the eyes of guys like Jim Cantore.  I once read a poem that said that when the cows’ tail is wet, it is raining, when the cows tail is swinging, it is windy, and so forth.  I’m not that simple, but still not an expert.

It has been debated ad nauseum the role that barometric pressure has on gobbling frequency.  I have not done any extensive research on the matter, but have had some experiences in the past to believe there is definitely a correlation between fluctuations in the barometric pressure and turkeys.  Allow me to explain.

In the spring of 2005, I was hunting my honey hole on the Alabama-Mississippi state line in west Alabama.  It was a perfect turkey hunting morning-blue skies, cool, no wind, birds were chirping, and yes, a wad of turkeys were gobbling their heads off.  In total, there were a dozen turkeys gobbling within earshot, and each was gobbling at least three to five times a minute.  Needless to say, I was sitting in high cotton, or at least I thought.

About 8 AM, just when I thought that things were about to get good, the woods just died.  And by died, I mean everything-turkeys, crows, and songbirds-shut down. 

For the next hour, only a faint gobble a mile away was heard.  No clouds moved in, nor did the wind pick up.  It was simply eerie.  I had to check my pulse to make sure I hadn’t died somewhere along the way and was shifted into some alternate universe.

Upon returning to camp, other hunters seemed to have the same experience.  Turkeys were absolutely ripping air, and then the spigot was cut off.  I called around to other buddies, and they said the same thing.  It was clear that my experience was no anomaly.

When I returned to the house, I looked back at the mornings’ weather records and my gut feeling was confirmed.  At approximately 8 AM, the barometric pressure reading bottomed out, going from 30.08 MB to 28.9 MB.  A dry front must have moved through and caused the change in pressure.

Since that day, I have had two distinct occurrences, to a much lesser degree, that have further convinced me of the effect barometric pressure has on gobbling activity.  One was on Alabama’s youth day in 2010.  It was a nasty morning-cold and rainy-and if the youngster I was taking wasn’t so excited to break daylight, I would have slept in.  But we reluctantly went, I was glad we did.

As the final drops of rain trickled off the trees, the woods began to light up with gobbling.  Less than thirty minutes later, 14 year old Brock Montgomery was standing over an entertaining two year old gobbler that put on a show.  When I got home, I checked the weather records, and sure enough, the pressure rose sharply right at daybreak.  Even though the weather seemed dismal, the turkeys noticed the pressure change and gobbled accordingly.

Every year, I try to keep good records on every hunt-how many turkeys I heard, how well they gobbled, and what the weather conditions were.  I have noticed that turkeys seem to gobble best when the barometric pressure is above 30 degrees MB, but keep in mind that they can and will gobble if the pressure is less.  The bottomline is that turkeys can be fired up, and killed, in snow, rain, wind, and hurricanes if you are dedicated enough.  They want, and need, love, and will seek it out no matter the weather if the vixen is convincing enough.  High pressure or low, you still have to get out there and hunt.  
Wild Turkey Report Staff
Wild Turkey Report is the internet's new destination for information on the sport of turkey hunting. Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wildturkeyreport and on Twitter @wildturkeyreprt!
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