For some, Spring turkey season has already begun. But for many, it begins next month. Spring turkey is a great opportunity to scratch that hunting itch that you have been feeling for months while also getting into the outdoors as the temperatures rise and the woods start to turn green again. When most people think of turkey hunting, they think sitting and calling, waiting for those gobblers to come in, perhaps near a food plot, in a blind, or leaned against a tree in the woods. So why would fitness matter if turkey hunting does not require the same physical exertion as elk or deer hunting? Well, this is partly a misconception because many turkey hunters do not hunt on private land over a food plot. For those in the West especially, turkey hunting involves significant hiking to get deep enough in the woods where there isn’t as much hunting pressure. Additionally, still hunting and sitting are not completely restful activities. Here are a few reasons why you should be in shape if you want to fill a Spring turkey tag.
Reasons Why You Need To Be In Better Shape
You Still Have to Hike In
As stated earlier, unless you drive right up to a blind and sit in a comfy chair (which many of us do not), you need to be able to hike a decent distance. Also, you may prefer to spot and stalk rather than sit and call; it goes without saying that this will require a higher level of fitness.
Sitting Requires Muscle Endurance
If you do hunt while sitting for a prolonged period, you are probably well aware that this is not restful. Sitting at the ready requires muscle endurance which affects your mind’s ability to focus. If you are worn out, you cannot focus as well, which could mean you blow it before you ever get a shot.
You May Have To Move… Quickly
Sometimes you have to move in order to get a shot. This window of opportunity to move to a better position is very small since turkeys have great eye sight and will bug out if they see you. The last thing you want is to pull a muscle while trying to move because you are out of shape and your body wasn’t ready to move after a long period of sitting.
Exercises For Turkey Hunting
So what can you do to improve your fitness level for turkey season? Here are a few exercises:
This will improve your muscle endurance as well as condition your mind to overcome the desire to move from an uncomfortable position. Lean your back against a wall and slide down into a squatting position so that your thighs are parallel to the ground and your knees form a 90 degree angle. Keep your eyes forward, chest out, and shoulders back. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and repeat 2-3 times (to make it even more difficult, hold a weight at chest level).
Walking Lunges (With or without weights)
This will improve your muscle endurance while hiking as well as improve lower body flexibility. Step forward with your right leg and bend your right knee until your left leg makes a straight line. Bend your knee so that your right leg makes a 90 degree angle (go deeper if you can); be sure to go deep enough that you feel a slight stretch in your back leg. Then, drive up with your right leg and bring your left foot forward. Repeat for the other side until you have completed 10-15 reps per leg.
Side Lunges (With or without weights)
This will improve lateral flexibility and stability for hiking on uneven surfaces. Start with your legs together. Step out to the side with your right leg. Lower your hips, keeping your chest out, shoulders back, and your eyes forward, until your right leg makes a 90 degree angle at the knee. Shift your weight so that your torso stays centered over you right leg; this will ensure that your right leg is holding the majority of your body weight). Then drive upward with your right leg, returning your right foot to the starting position. Repeat for the other side until you have completed 10-15 reps per leg.
Dumbbell Clean and Press
This multi-joint move will condition your whole body and increase your strength and stamina. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand so that it is just inside your right foot. With your chest out and you butt down, explode upward with the weight so that you bring the dumbbell up to your shoulder, with an underhanded grip, while in a squat position. Immediately drive upward with your legs as you push up with your arm, extending the weight above your head. Complete the necessary reps and repeat on the other side.
This will improve your flexibility and joint mobility while also strengthening your shoulders, back, and posterior chain. Grab the end of a kettlebell and let it hang vertically between your legs. Lower your body into an athletic stance (knees bent, torso centered over your feet). Now explosively straighten your hips and knees as if you were jumping, and swing the weight to eye level. Allow the weight to swing down as you bend your knees, keeping your chest out. Repeat the motion to swing the kettle bell up again.
Preparation Leads To Success
Fitness is only one piece of the preparation puzzle, however it is an invaluable piece. Improving your fitness level will help you fill your Spring turkey tag because you will be able to go farther, hunt longer, focus better, and ultimately do whatever you need to do to get the gobbler on the ground.