Friday, March 27, 2015

Bad Weather Birds


    As Turkey season closes in, I have been getting my fix via internet videos. One thing that has triggered my short span attention is how a lot of Turkey hunters pass up days when Mother Nature does not fully cooperate. I’m getting the feeling that some turkey hunters are stuck with the idea that it’s supposed to be sunny and sixty five degrees in order to hunt turkeys. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many ways to hit the curve ball Mother Nature throws at us during spring Turkey season.

Windy Days

Windy days especially seem to keep hunters in the shack. I do understand that turkeys will have a harder time hearing calls. Not to mention, heavy wind decreases our range of hearing when trying to locate turkeys by sound. This does put a dent in our calling effectiveness. However, where one tactic will fail, another will prevail.            

When I'm presented with windy days during turkey season, experience has shown me that turkeys are not very vocal. They too realize that their calling is deemed useless, for the most part. That’s why I am so eager to utilize more aggressive decoy sets. A perfect example would be setting up a Tom decoy right over top of a hen decoy. This is a visual cue to any Tom that another Tom is on his turf trying to steal his girlfriend. With a setup like this, sometimes calling isn’t even necessary.   

Keep in mind that heavy winds can mask the sound of you moving through the woods. It will also mask a lot of your movement because everything else, such as leaves and tree branches, will be moving as well. This is very helpful when trying to get in tight on a those long beards.

Rainy days

There is no way around rain. If it is falling, you’re going to get wet. With that being said, I have had my highest success in a light down poor. Just like wind, rain decrease some range in hearing, both for turkeys and hunters, but not to the extent of wind. A turkey’s biggest concern during a light rain is his visibility. A turkey’s eye sight is affected by falling rain drops. Imagine watching HD television verses a grainy old movie. You can now imagine what a turkey sees when it’s raining. This is where you can capitalize from a turkey’s sense of hearing.

Locating turkeys during a rain seems like it would be hard, but I have located Toms almost a quarter mile away with a steady falling rain. In fact, my brother Arron’s very first turkey was killed in a steady rain on opening morning of 2008. We parked on top of a hill and I made a locating call. We heard the Tom fire off about a quarter mile away. I almost disregarded setting up on that bird because it was so far away. But we did anyways. Ten minutes into the setup, with steady yelping and a single hen decoy sitting in front of us, we saw the Tom break the tree line less than one hundred yards away. As soon as he spotted the decoy, he slowed his pace, taking about fifteen minutes to get within range. Arron dispatched the long beard at forty yards.

There were a lot of variables in that hunt but I can guarantee that Tom’s limited hearing caused him to rush our set in order to locate what he thought was a receptive hen. Once he locked on to the decoy, he took his sweet time strutting his way to his maker. This goes to show that rain is the least of a Turkey hunters worries, as long as they don’t mind getting wet.


My fellow Michigan hunters know this all too well. Snow has been known to interrupt turkey season, especially in the northern and mountain regions where turkeys reside. But there is no need to panic. In 2013, Northern Michigan was still covered with snow by the opener of turkey season. My brother Arron, his girlfriend and I all killed our Toms before 11 am on opening morning. Four different setups resulted in three dead turkeys. All three of them turkeys responded to our calling and came in just as they would if the weather was sunny and fifty degrees.

 Snow presents elements to work around, but it does not affect a turkey’s response to decoys or calling nearly as much as hunters would think. Just like rain, it can affect vision if there is a heavy flurry. Sound is nearly unaffected, given there is not a heavy wind with the snow. I always tell people I hunt with to make sure they keep their bow hunting gear handy. You never know when Mother Nature will take a turn for the worst.         

If there is still a significant amount of snow on the ground comes turkey season, you have to be aware of the food sources the turkeys are using. Acorns, crop fields and any patches of exposed grass are going to be good feeding areas when the food is limited in those conditions. Check those spots during mid-day. When food is limited, turkeys will not stray too far from one of their only food sources. Given the amount of snow on the ground, turkeys will also roost pretty close to food sources when food is limited, due to late winter conditions.


Mother Nature will forever be a factor in our hunting agendas. As long as we know how to curve the affect in our favor, you can capitalize in most any weather condition. Whether it is snow, rain or wind, do not let it stop you from enjoying the outdoors this spring. Make the best of you time, no matter the conditions. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at or message me on facebook/michigangonewild. I love hearing from readers and fellow hunters. This is Alvin Sitkiewicz signing off, stay wild!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

5 Tips for Spring Turkey Season

  It can be quite hard adjusting to the run and gun method of Turkey hunting from that of jigging a rod on hard water or even scaling large rivers for steel head. To be prepared for the spring bird bonanza, hunters must have all their ducks in a row before season. Going into the season unprepared could cost you big time. Make sure you follow these quick tips so you are prepared to gun down springs most sought after game.
Get in Shape
       Being in shape is crucial to a Turkey hunter. This doesn’t mean you have to be able to lift a car or run ten miles without stopping for air. I only suggest you get your legs fit enough for scaling modest ridges and walking fair amounts of distances in order to have the right setup on a gobbler. Simple walks on a spring evening can do wonders for mobility. We all know being in shape is crucial to any physical demanding sport, so don’t let yourself be subject to unnecessary fatigue. Give yourself the edge by exercising your legs and building a decent lung capacity. The last thing you want is to be too tired to get in the right position on a good Turkey.
Inventory check list
       An inventory of all your gear is something you should have at all times. Keep it in an email or a notebook you keep for hunting. I have an inventory list for pretty much everything I do. It ensures I am ready for all my seasons. This check list will help you make sure all your needed gear is where it needs to be. Mouth calls, slate calls, binoculars, or facemasks are essential to turkey hunting success. Imagine if you got all set up on some roosted birds and you didn’t have your mouth calls. Unless you are good at calling turkeys without a call, you just wasted a setup.
                Go through your gear a couple weeks or even months before the season. Make sure you have all the gear you need. Use a plastic tote to secure all your gear. Check down everything that is in there and everything that is not, but needs to be. This gives you a good idea of what you need to get before the season. That way, comes season, you will be free of worry and able to concentrate more on scouting.   
                                                                            Scouting Birds
Luckily, Turkeys are not as complicated as Deer, at least in my mind. You can take a couple days leading up to the season to drive around and pinpoint areas of interest. Do some ground work and look for roosting areas. Usually at every roosting site you will find dropping and feathers scattered along the forest floor. Keep those areas in mind when you are trying to puts some birds to bed.
Scouting can be done in many forms. Whether using satellite imagery, driving around or good ole on the hoof scouting, all is effective. Make sure you are keeping up with the birds in your area. A lot changes happen in the spring. Food becomes more abundant as the snow melts away and Toms will also be on the move for hens. This is why I like to start scouting at least two weeks in advance.
Shoot Your Gun
Whether it be Bow or Shotgun, it is always smart to practice. Practice at different ranges as well as the different positions you may be sitting in when making a shot. If you plan on hunting with a bow in a ground blind, then practice exactly that. I always make the reference that football players do not practice with basketballs on a tennis court for a reason. Practice in the conditions in which you will be perform.

As a guide and video producer, nothing sets me off like a hunter missing a turkey at point blank range. I have called birds within 15 yards of hunters only to have them knock off a few feathers. I’m always amazed when I ask them if they had practiced and they tell me no. That is completely uncalled for. As a hunter, we owe it to our quarry to practice with the weapon in which we intend to harvest our them.
This touches off base on the practice but does take precedence. Make sure you are using the right load for your shotgun. Invest in a good load. I have used both 12 and 20 gauges to harvest turkey. I enjoy the full choke 20 gauge because it’s light and less experienced shooters I may be hunting with are less intimidated by the recoil. With that being said, make sure you use a good load for the specific gun you are using. I like to use number 5 shot for the simple reason that it packs enough punch and it has enough bb’s to cause a good head thrashing. Whatever you choose to use, choose wisely.
Shake Off the Rust
Lastly, makes sure you practice with all the gear you intend on using during your chase for Spring Gobblers. Take out your calls, whatever they may be, and practice your yelps and purrs. You do not want to enter the woods opening morning and start yelping at a Tom, to only sound like a drunken chicken trying to mimic a goose. That would be embarrassing even if no one else was with you. I like to set my call by my desk. When I’m video editing or writing articles, I can annoy my lovely fiancĂ© while practicing my ever so gentle purrs and sharp cutting yelps!
There are a lot of tools in your Turkey vest that you can pay little attention to, but your calls are as important as the weapon you use. Make sure you’re sharp on all your calling. I like to watch videos of live turkeys. As I hear the sounds they make, I try to mimic them with the various calls I carry in my vest. This will assure your sounds are realistic and in tune to natural turkey behavior.
I hope this article has grappled your brain into Spring Turkey mode. If you practice these steps in your routine before every season, I guarantee you will be that much better and even more confident. If you’re going to be practicing your calling in the house, I suggest you buy your significant other a bouquet of flowers or some other type of peace offering. It can get ugly guys! If you have any questions or comments about this article, please email me at or message me on Facebook. I love hearing from readers and sportsman alike. This is Alvin Sitkiewicz signing off. Stay Wild!
Our Channel

Friday, March 13, 2015

Four Tips for Better Archery Accuracy

      Like a lot of archery hunters, I have been guilty of not practicing with my bow nearly as much as I should have. Like me and any archer who has hunted long enough, we have made bad shots. Not always is it the archers fault. Sometimes the deer ducks the arrow or hits a limb that was not visible during aiming. But there is also the crowd that breaks out their bow a couple days before archery season and does just enough to shake off the rust. Focus on these four factors for better archery accuracy.

      The first is Position. I’m not just talking about how to hold your bow or what fingers should be extended while at full draw. You do what makes you comfortable and what produces the best results for you. I speak in the manner of hunting positions. If you hunt primarily from a tree stand, then practice from a tree stand, same rule goes if you are hunting from the ground and sitting in a chair. Practice in the conditions in which you will perform. You don’t see football teams practicing with a basketball on a tennis court. That would be pointless.
Giving yourself a lot of practice from a tree stand will make you that much better when you are making a shot at a deer from a tree stand. Also, if you practice with an actual life like size deer target, practice quartering to and away shots. Imagine the position of the vitals and aim where your arrow will make the best contact with them vital organs.

I know what you are thinking, No one is perfect. I absolutely agree. However, it is on the path to perfection that we reach our ultimate goal. This comes down to the aim small, miss small rule. If you are aiming for a quarter at twenty yards, you have a better chance of hitting it than if you were to aim just to get close.
If you are looking to hit the heart in a deer, imagine where it is and aim to drive your arrow right through it. Strive to be perfect on your position. Make sure your hand and aiming point is in the perfect position every time. Try to eliminate as much of the variables that result in a bad shot. That is how you are going to get the best results.

      One perfect draw and release gets you one good shot. Being consistent in all aspects of shooting, such as mechanics, draw and release will develop muscle memory. Striving to be perfect, consistently, shot after shot will increase your tendency to make better shots more often. One of my favorite sayings is “Perfect Practice makes perfect”. You want to really emphasize your form while drawing your bow, holding it, and releasing it. Doing this consistently will help you shoot accurately when it matters the most, because you have forced your body to do it by instinct.

Studies show that it takes a human one thousand times of doing something before they develop muscle memory. This is very important considering you use multiple muscle groups during the process of an archery shot. It is even more important when you think of how many muscles are holding that bow back as you wait for the right time to release the arrow. The more times you shoot a bow, the more muscle memory you develop.
Studies also show it takes about twenty one days to form a habit and also break a habit. This means shooting your bow a couple times before the opener is not going to cut it. Now I’m not insinuating that you should shoot your bow one thousand times a day for twenty one days. Your arms would probably fall off. We are looking for persistence. This would mean shooting your bow all summer, about fifty times a day and maybe only three times a week. This would surely get your muscles developing that memory we are talking about.

As long as you are striving for the perfect position on every shot, constantly, your body will never know a bad way to shoot a bow. Being persistent in these practices will ensure a clean and true shot almost every time. I have certainly used these tips to produce the best results possible for my setup. We as hunters owe it to our quarry to make the fastest and most ethical kill possible. I know it doesn’t always go to plan, but with consistent practice, perfect position and persistence, we lower the odds of bad shots and also raise our own confidence.
I hope this intrigued all you archery hunters out there. As I write this, it’s snowing and blowing outside. I cannot wait to break out my bow and start sending arrows down range. If you have any questions or comments, please message me at or message me on facebook/michigangonewild. I love hearing from all you readers and hunters alike. This is Alvin Sitkiewicz signing off. Stay Wild!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Three Online Scouting Tools You Should Be Using

      Technology has made drastic advances in the hunting industry. In the terms of scouting, it has never been easier. Looking for certain areas that hold deer, good ambush points and staging areas can all be done from the comfort of your own home. Most of these tools have been mentioned before, but I still see people failing to utilize these tools. Fellow hunters often ask me how I find deer on the vast public lands of Northern Michigan, or why I walk two miles off the beaten path to hunt a ridge or marsh. It’s because I know what’s back there. My brother Arron and I have mastered the use of these tools to cut down on our foot traffic in areas we plan on hunting. I can honestly say these tools are the reason why we are as successful as we are.

Satellite Imagery
Google Earth Image
      Satellite images from google earth or Bing maps have given me the ultimate edge when whitetail hunting public land. Before I even step into the woods, I already know areas I want to check out. I can discard areas that don’t look good before I even set foot in an area. It used to be you had to take a GPS and walk miles upon miles before you could get a good idea of an area. Not anymore. I recall moments where I looked at a certain area on google earth and already knew I would find a scrape line or travel routes to feed and bed. Confirming these theories on foot is the final task before hanging the stand.
Google Earth Image
      I often look for pinch points or funnels that appear clearly on satellite imagery. Parts of where I hunt can get really swampy so I use the images to locate paths of least resistance for the deer. Satellite imagery is so good these days; you can sometimes see deer trails weaving in and out of marshes. Of course, this takes a lot of practice and time spent looking at maps. Along with that practice, you can even begin to identify different types of trees. After many hours of looking at satellite imagery, I can spot oak trees even in small clumps. These small clumps of oaks are hot spots for ambushing bucks cruising for does.
Topo maps
      One of the most talked about online tools is topo maps. Yet I find hunters still do not utilize them correctly. Most hunters look for saddles (a depression between two ridges). Most of my experience with saddles has left me without results. I find that mature bucks walk the very tops of ridges or just off the side of them. A very skilled deer hunter once told me to get on top of the ridges. That’s all he would say. Well that and don’t bait. I quickly found out that a buck will use the tops of high ridges as refuge. It all made sense after seeing multiple bucks bedded on top of these high ridges. Some so high it looked as if a ski resort should have staked their claim there.
Typical ways Mature bucks use tall ridges.
Island in the middle of a swamp.
      You can also use topo maps to locate high spots in swamps and marshes. No deer wants to lie down in water, but deer do like to know there is water between them and danger. In fact one of my brother’s go to spots for rifle hunting is overlooking a marsh with a high spot island in the middle. Deer use those islands as refuge. Arron catches these deer coming off the island going to acorns about three hundred yards behind him.
      Topo maps can be confusing to read. Make it simple on yourself comes hunting season and practice now. Using these maps properly can be the difference to filling the freezer or bumming back straps from your friend.

Plot Maps
       Maybe one the most over looked tools are plot maps. I have used plots maps in the past to locate little honey holes of public land that bump up to heavily managed private land. Sorry to inform people who hunt these private lands, but the deer belong to everyone. I have found forty acre public land parcels in between large hunting clubs. Some of these parcels are over looked simply because hunters do not know they are public.
       There are online registries that show land ownership. I suggest you look into these and utilize them. I’m not saying you will have this land all to yourself. I’m surely not the first hunter to think of this. I have run into other hunters who had the same idea as me. One time I got to a spot to late and a hunter was already dragging a deer out. I helped him the rest of the way and we traded deer stories after that. It’s a matter of trial and success. You keep trying until you succeed.

        It can be harsh to admit your tactics are not what they are cracked up to be. I for one am a stubborn hunter and for a long time thought looking out one window to a bait pile was the best way to hunt. This is what I was taught. I broke out of that shell and developed my own hunting techniques and patterns after using these tools mentioned. I have learned so much about deer and deer hunting. Even in one of the most over pressured deer hunting states there is, I manage consistent success because I have kept up with the times and used technology to my advantage. I urge any serious deer hunter to experiment with these tools, even in ways I have not mentioned. If you already are, try learning more. You can never know it all, but it is on the path to perfection that we achieve our greatest goals.
       I hope this kick starts your brain into deer hunting mode. Maybe it will even open your eyes to experiment with different tactics. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at or message me at I love hearing from readers and fellow hunters. This is Alvin Sitkiewicz signing off. Stay Wild!