Heavy Rain Can Affect Your Shot Pattern When Hunting Turkeys
with Bob Walker
Editor’s Note: Bob Walker of Livingston, Alabama, is a Mossy Oak pro, an avid, longtime turkey hunter and a Turkey THUG. He has hunted and guided for turkeys most of his life. For the past 29 years, Walker has been a guide at Bent Creek Lodge in Jachin, Ala.
Most hunters think turkey hunters remember the gobblers they’ve taken and forget about the unsuccessful hunts, but I haven’t found this idea to be true. One of my most-memorable hunts, when I learned a good lesson, was the hunt for the Thunder and Lightning Gobbler. I left Bent Creek Lodge early one morning guiding a hunter, Wayne Christian. We pulled around to the edge of a pasture where I knew there was a gobbler. I told Wayne I needed to check the weather forecast on my cell phone before we left the truck. I saw an ominous storm coming with heavy rain, thunder and lightning. I said, “Wayne, we have a flood coming. There is no doubt about it.” We got out of the truck just before daylight. We could hear thunder rolling in the distance. After every boom of thunder, a turkey would gobble his brains out. Wayne decided he wanted to go after that turkey, at least for a little while. I explained, “If we walk across this pasture and that storm moves in, we won’t walk back. There’s a good chance we’ll get struck by lightning, and I would say there’s a 99.52-percent chance we’ll get wet.”
“Let’s try to hunt that gobbler just a little while,” Mr. Wayne told me. We left the truck and went across the pasture, getting closer and closer to the gobbler. We set-up in a little finger of woods on the edge of the pasture. Instead of the sky becoming lighter when the sun came up, the sky kept getting darker and darker. Suddenly, the rain started coming down in sheets. Lightning and thunder were popping all around us. Even though we were fairly close to the turkey, we decided to get up and move. We were sitting right by a fence under some tall pine trees, and moved to set-up again in some shorter bushes.
The rain slacked up a bit, and the gobbler flew from his roost. We had to move again and go around behind a bank where the turkey couldn’t see us as we moved in closer. A creek was in front of us, but I was wearing ankle-high boots and crossed the creek without getting my feet wet. The rain started pouring down so hard that we could no longer see the turkey, but we knew he was less-than 115-yards away from us in the field. We already were soaking wet from head to toe, so we decided to continue the hunt and wait on the gobbler to come to us. Finally, the rain slacked up, and I called to the gobbler again. The turkey began coming to us, but he hung up on the other side of a pool of water in the field. I whispered to Mr. Wayne, “That turkey is at 40 yards. I am sure you can take him. No doubt about it.” About that time the rain started coming down again in sheets. I was sitting right behind Wayne and could see he was sighted dead-in on that gobbler with his shotgun. I whispered, “I’ll yelp really loudly. When that tom sticks his head up to look for the hen, you shoot him.” I did, and he shot. The turkey flew out of the field. I couldn’t believe it. Mr. Wayne was a good shot and easily could have made that shot. We sat there in the pouring rain and thought about what had happened. I told Mr. Wayne, “With the rain coming down this hard, I feel certain it had an effect on your shot pattern.”
If you think about it, you realize a heavy downpour can affect your shot pattern, especially if you’re trying to take a turkey at 40 yards. Next I said, “I saw where that turkey flew and lit in a tree. I want to cross the creek and make sure you didn’t hit the bird.” When I got to the creek, I found a log to cross on since the creek bottom now was about 10-feet down. I flushed the gobbler off his roost, and he flew away unharmed. Although I’ve hunted turkeys most of my life and have hunted in the rain numerous times, I never had considered the rain’s effect on someone’s shot pattern until that hunt. I guess the moral of the story is, if you’re hunting in a driving rain and working a gobbler, get close before you take the shot. At least, I learned that lesson, and it is one I never will forget.
To hunt with Bob Walker, contact Bent Creek Lodge at email@example.com or 205-398-3040.