By Jeremy Koerber
I’ve heard the arguments. Statements like, “all you do is sit” and “I ride my ATV to my hunting site; why do I need to train to hunt turkeys?” Obviously these naysayers have turkey populations that come directly to their calls while they lounge in one of the nifty camo camping rockers you can get at Cabelas because the turkeys I hunt require a bit more effort to knock down.
I’ll admit that I am a purist and when possible, I like to walk, stalk and crawl to get set up for calling turkeys but to me it goes much deeper than this. In any given hunt you will utilize core strength, power, flexibility, agility and aerobic fitness. Case in point, crossing a slippery limestone bottom creek holding 25 pounds of gear while scampering up a steep bank to walk a ridge that circles a quarter mile around an open field where we had spotted birds. Do you have to be “physically fit” to kill a turkey? I suppose not but when I think of ultimate predators like mountain lions I don’t picture out of shape cats surviving at the top of the food chain. They are lean, stealthy, agile and powerful predators. The Fit To Hunt Tribe sticks to this mindset because they too want to be the ultimate predator. A fit turkey hunter with the same calling skills and woodsman ship will out hunt a non-fit hunter with comparable skills any day of the week because they have the physical tools to keep going.
We began opening day of the Missouri season with very little fanfare. Windy conditions presented zero gobbling and the best we saw was one lone hen. Day two was better but that is where the fitness aspects started to really become a factor as we hunted steep, hilly ridge tops where just getting to the top left me winded. Right there I realized just how hard this would be if I wasn’t in good condition or weighed 30-40 pounds more than I do. Trying to creep through the woods and remain stealthy is next to impossible when you are winded, have poor balance and bad core stability. You might be able to get
to your destination but you are going bust birds.
Day 3 was when the action got hot. We had set up in 3 different locations before 8am where we had to cross a creek in the dark and hot foot it around a patch of woods to head off a group of birds. These feats alone were physically challenging. As we set up near a fallen log, I let out 5 yelps on my slate call and was immediately greeted with a thunderous gobble less than 50 yards away. We immediately fell to our bellies and crawled to a position where I could get my gun up and my grandfather (who took over
calling duties) could operate without being seen. We played a cat and mouse game where I held a modified plank position for almost 30 minutes. Graciously, two gobblers finally gave in and came into view where my 870 Remington dropped the lead bird but that wasn’t the end of the journey. I still had to haul the bird, my gear and my shotgun a half mile to the truck.
My gobbler weighed out at 20 pounds with a 10 inch beard and 1 ½ spurs and I felt every bit of those 20 pounds as I carried him and my gear out of the woods. I also believe that if I did not exercise on a regular basis, I would not have been able to harvest this bird. The circumstances required me to use every aspect of fitness and if I did not possess that conditioning, this specific bird would still be strutting the woods of Southeast Missouri today.
What do you do to physically prepare for Turkey season? Please comment below and let us know how you stay Fit To Hunt.
Contributions made by Fit2Hunt Staff!