A new hunting option for Michigan's turkey season

Mark Spencley

Turkey hunting has become a right of spring for many Michigan hunters. With the option of crossbow hunting for turkeys, a new hunting method has been added to a time-tested tradition.

Until the recently passed regulation changes, crossbows were strictly weapons for Michigan hunters struggling with a severe injury. Now opportunities have been vastly expanded to include three hunting seasons:

- during any season in which a firearm may be used, for both big and small game;

- for any hunting season in Zone 3 of southern Michigan;

- by anyone 50 years of age or older during the Oct. 1-Nov. 14 archery deer season.

For many hunters with a newfound interest in crossbows, the weapons are unfamiliar and produce uncertain results.

Steve Wowianko, Mackinaw Outfitters archery technician, said there are many misconceptions about crossbows that hunters should understand before purchasing one.

“First, they are a 40-yard weapon,” he said. “A lot of guys think they can shoot twice as fast as a compound bow, but actually, their performance is basically the same.”

Crossbows turn out speeds in anywhere from 250-375 feet per second. At the upper end, they outpace compound bows, but not by much. Several of the leading compound bows on the market are rated at or above the 350-feet-per-second threshold.

Wowianko added that crossbows’ noise and heft can be issues during hunting situations, but he agreed they can be very effective hunting weapons.

“Crossbows are more than suitable for turkey hunters,” Wowianko said. “They only require as much movement as a shotgun, so having to come to full draw will not be an issue like it is when hunting with a traditional or compound bow.”

For crossbow-toting turkey hunters, there are several specialty arrowheads available.

“Expandable broadheads perform very well out of crossbows,” Wowianko said. “There are several models that are turkey specific, as well. It's all personal preference really.”

One challenge for turkey hunters using crossbows will be the requirement to wear hunter orange when using the weapon.

Despite not having to wear orange while turkey hunting with a shotgun, current law requires crossbow hunters to wear orange whenever they are hunting.

Department of Natural Resources Press Secretary Mary Dettloff said this regulation will likely stay on the books through the spring and fall turkey seasons.

Cheboygan Daily Tribune