We have had one of the strangest springs in recent memory. Between the COVID-19 outbreak and the odd weather it has made it tough to get out and hunt. Initially, during Michigan’s shutdown order, residents were barred from traveling to a second home. The order lightened up around the end of April and many hunters hit the woods to chase after spring turkeys.
Once people got out to the woods they found a couple of things to be different this season. First, due to the shutdown orders (and people being out of work), many hunters reported that their usual public land turkey spots were looking more like the opening of deer season: fellow hunters everywhere. While certainly good for the sport this increased pressure did lead to some early frustration.
Compounding the increased pressure, the weather shifted from 70 degrees and sunny to 25 and snowing over and over again until about the second week of May. Interspersed through this period we have had a ton of rain. All of this has amounted to gobblers being more quiet than usual and reports of less turkey activity than is typically seen at this time of year.
I am not biologist, but in my laymen’s opinion, I believe the birds starting their mating activities later this year than usual for Michigan. The good news, at this time (mid-May), is that the recent string of warmer days appears to have kick-started the turkey mating season into full swing. I am not hearing gobbles every morning from the roost, seeing hens running around chasing toms, and witnessing all the usual behavior we have come to expect from turkey season.
It has been a long and slow start to the season, but we are now nearing the good part. If you still have time left on your tag start hitting the woods in the morning and sit as long as you can. This may be the best chance we’ve had so far for spring turkey success. Myself, I am desperately trying to bag a bird so I can begin fishing. My fly rod and spinning gear are sitting at the ready to hit the water, but not until the fat turkey sings.
Good luck, be safe, and make sure to send us pictures and stories of your spring turkey successes.