Turkey Hunting: Cold Turkey

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With the spring turkey season just a mere couple of weeks away, my eyes are constantly glancing at the long range forecast.  Today is no exception.  Based on the 15 day forecast, the weather in west Alabama on March 15 (our opening day) will be sunny with a high of 65 and a low of 38.  Even though I know it is almost guaranteed that it will be pouring as I walk out of the camp that morning, at least it is comforting to know that as of right now, the perfect turkey hunting day is projected for me.

I have long held the theory that the perfect turkey hunting day was a sunny day with a high temperature around 70 and a low around 40, with the barometric pressure above 30 degrees MB.  However, the unseasonably warm days we had in the 2012 season-a light jacket was required a total of two days out of 45 in Alabama-convinced me that come heat wave or blizzard, turkeys are still going to be turkeys, as we had our best season in Sahara Desert-like conditions.

Cold weather is something we really do not face very much in Alabama compared to our counterparts out west or up north.  The temperatures rarely fall below freezing, even during the first couple of weeks during the season.  When we do have the occasional cold blast, and turkeys do not gobble as well as us hunters hope, we tend to use the phrase “the cold must have frozen up their gobble boxes!”  But is this really true?

Chris Kirby, President of Quaker Boy Calls, feels that colder weather actually causes turkeys to be more active.  He should know, as many times he breaks daylight in the early part of the New York season to sub-freezing temperatures.  “I notice a more active, desperate feel from turkeys when it is cold,” explains Kirby.  “It is almost as if they are cold and just like we would do, they move around a bit to keep the blood moving and stay warm.  Wildlife is used to the cold.  It may be a chilly 35 - 40 degree morning; however, that is a great deal warmer than a month prior when it was in the 20’s.  So, it may be cold to us but it is warmer for them, in comparison.  I find that a cool, crisp morning really gets the birds to gobbling good.”

Bill Zearing of Cody Turkey Calls is another hunter who often faces cold mornings and feels the cold weather theory is simply a hoax.  “I do not think turkeys are affected by the cold weather.  I have killed turkeys on 30 degree days with the wind blowing 70 miles an hour and the snow coming down so hard you could barely see.  The only problem they had was standing up straight when they strutted,” laughed Zearing, a Halifax, PA native who has chased spring gobblers for 46 years.  “They are still going to do their thing, and you have to be out there when they do.”

Kirby, a past champion caller who has been hunting since the mid-1970’s, added: “I call a bit more aggressive during cold mornings, perhaps because I am cold and need to stay warm myself.  However, the fundamentals of position and patience cannot be aborted.  Position does include sitting on bench or an area that I know the shade will go away quick and sun will be there soon to warm the area up.  So in reality, much remains unchanged from what I do on a cold day versus a ‘normal’ day.”

Zearing said one thing that cold weather can impact is friction calls.  “Metal surfaces such as aluminum tend to tighten up during cold weather, which can change the way the call sounds.  Glass surfaces can get a little finicky in cold weather, but with slate being a natural product, it is a good choice in cold weather, or any weather for that matter.  So yes, you do need to be cognizant of the fact that cold weather can affect your friction calls somewhat.”

For more information on Quaker Boy Calls, including their line of Turkey THUG calls, visit their website at www.quakerboy.com.

For more information on Cody Turkey Calls, including their "Old School" series which features calls in Mossy Oak Original Bottomland, visit their website at www.codyturkeycalls.com.
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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