Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
The final segment of Iowa’s four-part spring turkey season is currently underway. The season ends May 15.
As is the case with most outdoor activities, turkey hunting success depends largely on local weather conditions. Like most of us, spring gobblers prefer clear skies, warm sunrises and light or no wind. Generally speaking, toms spend more time gobbling on nice days which results in more hunters putting more wild turkeys in the bag. Unfortunately, this year’s seasons have offered little in the way of ideal spring mornings. Instead, the state has been pummeled with a monotonous cycle of chilly temps, heavy overcast and relentless winds.
The good news is that, despite the weather, Iowa hunters have harvested more than 6,700 turkeys so far. And although this year’s final tally is certain to fall short of the record 14,600 gobblers bagged in 2020; it may end up being surprisingly close to an average spring harvest of ten to twelve thousand birds.
One thing is certain. Turkey hunters who choose to let the weather keep them indoors are clearly missing the boat. Regardless of overcast skies and windy conditions, the gobblers are still out there. There is no question, of course, that roaring winds restrict the effective range of your hearing as well as hamper the hearing of the birds you seek. As always, patience is key. Put in your time and you’ll eventually detect that first precious gobble. Once the conversation gets started, you’re likely to discover that, even on days when the treetops bend and roar with hurricane winds, those heavyweight toms are as ready and willing as ever to respond to your calls. Although this year’s weather has been far less than ideal, I have managed to find and see birds every single time I’ve taken to the woods – two mature gobblers on the slowest day and three toms and eight jakes on the best. The gobbler in the attached photo was called into a forest clearcut during wind gusts of 30 mph and approached to a distance of just five feet. Any time you have a mature gobbler march to within hand shaking distance, I’d say it qualifies as a good day in the woods.