DIY Hunting: Michigan May Be the Right Choice for Your Next Spring Turkey Hunt

Editor’s note: Other than a few high-fence deer operations, Michigan hasn’t attracted much attention from Hunting Report subscribers, but subscriber-correspondent Debra Sieloff tells us that it is well worth a look if you are after a turkey this spring. Last season, she took a 24-pound bearded tom in Hunt Unit F on a self-guided hunt with a muzzleloading shotgun. Sieloff reported seeing five mature toms, six large jakes and a bearded hen during two-and-a-half days of hunting and scouting.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources ( has 13 hunt units with one-week seasons that begin Apr. 23 and run through May 31, 2018. The application period for turkey licenses is Jan. 1 through Feb. 1, but a leftover tag system (first come, first served; over the counter or online) usually offers thousands of leftover tags. Some units have quotas and close when those quotas are met.

Michigan’s Eastern turkey is a popular game species with an 80% hunter success rate and 30,000-plus turkeys harvested. There are 4.5 million acres of public land to hunt in Michigan.

Both a Michigan hunting license (resident $11; nonresident $151) and turkey tag (resident/nonresident $15) are required. This allows one bearded turkey. A Michigan sportsman’s card (a nominal fee of a few dollars) is required before a license can be purchased. Methods of hunting include shotgun (cartridge or muzzleloading), archery and crossbow.

If you are considering a self-guided hunt, I recommend allowing a few days to pattern the gobblers, using early and late-day calls to locate the birds. I also recommend marking your path in and out of the forests and marshes, as Michigan woods can be dense and disorienting (be sure to pull your markers when done). I used the OnX HuntMap phone app for navigating land and boundaries but the app requires mobile coverage and drains batteries quickly.

Postscript: Finding a guide in Michigan is a challenge. If you know of a recommendable turkey guide in Michigan, please file a report and help others access this opportunity.