Preparing for the 2022 Michigan Spring turkey season is one of the highlights of my hunting year. Last year was the first time I chased the elusive dino chickens. Yet it being an unsuccessful hunt by means of not filling my tag, I learned a great deal. Played cat and mouse with a gobbler, found their roosting sites and spent a week in the woods. I always ask myself; can any hunt truly be unsuccessful?
As with every hunting season, I get very excited about the upcoming hunt and cannot wait to fill my tags and enjoy the meat of my labor. Turkeys are one of my favorite game species to hunt. Being from the Midwest and primarily hunting deer from a fixed position it’s a welcomed change of pace. The stealthy moving through the woods, calling and trying to out smart one of the smartest birds on the planet, is an experience I cherish. Hell, even Ben Franklin was fond of the bird, having wanted to select it as our national bird.
I am bound and determined to take a turkey with my bow. One can say I am glutting for punishment. But I am far more confident with my bow than any other means of take. To me, the best way to get myself ready for the season is to shoot a lot of arrows. Dial in my gear, build the muscle memory and get use to taking odd, angled shots. On my rest days from lifting, I will typically warm up by standing and shooting a dozen or so arrows, proceeded by shooting another dozen arrows or so from a seated position in a chair or upturned bucket. After those rounds, I’ll practice shooting from a kneeling position and then finally a seated position on the ground.
Every bow hunter knows that one of the hardest ways to draw their bow is having it straight out in front of you. I practice this draw and a bunch of other oddly angled draws since turkeys are notorious for never standing still and who knows what angle I will be at.
As I mentioned before, on my rest days from lifting is when I practice my bow. But nothing beats trying to make an accurate shot with a bow after I just got done wrecking my shoulders, pulling heavy deadlifts, smoking the chest benching or squatting heavy. On those days, I will add a “super set” component to my main lifting movement with a one arrow shot after every set. I feel this is the closest I can replicate “buck fever” in order work on controlling my heartbeat, steadying my muscles and overall calming myself down. I’ve yet to experience more pin float with doing this verse anything else.
The Set Up
I am fortunate enough to be able to shoot my bow in my back yard and have a home gym. Luckily that gym is positioned in my enclosed porch, or as us Michiganders like to call it a sunroom or Florida room. When I put my target in the back corner of my yard and open one of the windows, I have a 20-yard shot. (Yep, pretty redneck.) Regarding turkey prep, I like to set the target between 15-20 yards. Having put my decoys at 15-yards from where I intend to set up, this gives a realistic hunting scenario. I’ll print off some turkey targets and pin them to my block target. Granted these targets are typically much smaller than the real deal, I like the challenge. Eventually I’ll get a 3D target, but for the time being this works.
My shot placement for a bird is the body. Knowing the head and vitals are roughly the same size, I just feel more confident with a body shot. And since I’m using a bow, I’m not worried about ruining a ton of meat or cracking my tooth on a piece of errand shot. My broad-heads expand to 2-inches and should do the trick.
With anything in life, a strong body makes life easier. I follow a power lifting routine that is four-days per week with two upper and two lower days. Monday is upper / bench focused, Tuesday is deadlift focus / legs, Thursday is shoulder and arms focused and Friday is squat / legs focused. A strong core and bullet proof upper body aids with shooting bow.
I add doing weighted walks or “rucks” around the neighborhood. Yeah, I know the sidewalks are paved and its not a ton of weight but putting 20-40 pounds in my pack and walking a few miles aids in hauling the hunting pack around the woods. Plus, cardio sucks and this is a decent alternative to mindless peddling on the stationary bike.
Since I found their roosting sites last year and kept note of them during the previous deer seasons, I applied to hunt the same unit as the year before. This unit offers 5000 tags, but last year I saw no other hunters in woods and I’m hunting public land. Yet, when I get a chance to scourer over some Google or OnX maps I’m on it, fantasizing about where the giant long beards are hiding, just waiting to meet the business end of my arrow.
With every day slowly inching closer to opening day just writing this is making me more and more excited for the upcoming season. Time in the spring woods, catching a quick nap and brushing ticks off your pants while listening to gobbles cannot come soon enough. Hopefully this year will result in a filled tag, meat on the table and beard and fan hung on the wall.
Daniel “Bubba” Groth
HLE Team Member