Gear Court: Ellen Benitz reveals four little ‘must-haves’ for turkey hunting
The WON welcomes freelance writer Ellen Benitz to its ranks of Gear Court reviewers. Trust Ellen to tell you the truth about gear and what works for her …
As soon as the weather started warming up, I got into “gear mode” for turkey season. I usually start out by lining up all the gear I will take … and most of it, I will remove later in the season because my vest will get too heavy to lug around. But these tried and true things will remain a constant in my vest:
1) A really true fitting pair or two of camo gloves made specifically for women. I usually carry two, one a little heavier in weight than the other for those cool mornings when my hands get cold. The light weight ones are Red Head brand by Bass Pro. They are called Red Head Strut Zone gloves for women. They are a moisture wicking polyester/spandex material in either Real Tree AP or Mossy Oak camo patterns. But what I like the best about them, besides the fit, is the silicone palms. I like to ensure I have a good grip on either my friction calls or my gun! Did I mention they fit? I have small hands, short fingers and have a hard time finding gloves to fit, and NO man’s glove or “one-size-fits-most” gloves ever fit me. I usually end up with too much material at the ends of my fingers. The other pair I really like, the heavier pair is by She Outdoor Apparel. It’s a heavy cotton blend but with a low pile interior for a little added warmth. They, too, have some silicone on the palm and finger tips for gripping. The camo patterns are all Realtree patterns. These gloves will set you back $20 plus shipping, where the ones from Bass Pro are only $12. But for me, I’ll pay just about anything to have a pair of camo gloves that FIT my small hands!
2) A Gerber pruner. The one I have I have had for a very long time and honestly don’t remember how or where I got them. They could’ve been a gift but I don’t remember. I DO remember to put them in my vest at the beginning of turkey season and that is where they stay for the duration! I checked the website and these particular pruners are no longer listed, but they have some others that are reasonably priced. Besides being great pruners for cutting back brush or removing poison ivy from a tree you want to sit against, they carry a lifetime warranty and are made in the U.S.A. ! Need I say more? Gotta have ‘em, wouldn’t do without ‘em and definitely worth the price.
3) The day or night before I go into the turkey woods I treat EVERYTHING I plan on wearing with a spray that contains Permethrin. Repel makes one and it is available at Bass Pro and Wal-Mart called Mosquito Stop for Clothing and Gear. You should NOT put this on your skin! Spray your clothing and boots liberally with this and allow to dry. This will not only kill ticks and mosquitoes that come in contact with it, but it will stay on your clothing, even through washings, for up to two weeks. The kind I use is a military grade my brother gave me and it is suppose to stay on up to six weeks. This year, with our mild winter, you can bet on the tick population being extreme! I’ve already picked one of the tiny blood suckers off me just from being in the yard! I would also recommend that you spray your hunting vehicle’s seats. It won’t stain and it could keep the little buggers out of your car or truck as well!
4) Last, but most certainly not least, is the Hunter’s Specialties knee gun rest. I call it my knee sponge. Mark my words, you will never catch me turkey hunting without one of these little miracle wonders! Sometimes I carry two, just in case the person I’m hunting with starts complaining about how her knee hurts from propping her shotgun on it for long periods of time. You know what I’m talking about, when those toms hang up about 50 yards out and commence to putting on a show for what seems like hours, while you sit there with your gun up daring not to move, while he takes his sweet time! I have terribly bad knees anyway and any weight resting on them hurts. These little camo gun rests are cheap, usually under $5 at just about any store that sells sporting goods and are worth their weight in gold. I can rest my shotgun propped on the sponge and wedged in my shoulder and still use both hands on my friction call. The HS gun rest also has an adjustable strap for securing around your knee; it will even stay on when a last minute change of venue is needed. I’ve walked around with mine on most of the day.
Well those are the four things you won’t catch me in the turkey woods without. Of course, I carry much more, but these items are extremely important to me and for my comfort as well. If you don’t have one of these items I would suggest giving them a try. I can make it through the day without my turkey lounge chair, or fanny cushion, even a knife, but if I’m missing one of these other items … I would consider going back for them!
Ellen Benitz is retired field staff from the National Wild Turkey Federation. She has hunted both with a bow and firearm for more than 30 years. In that time she has taken different types of fowl and mammals, including being the first woman to take a bison with a Knight muzzleloader. Ellen has written for the Sho-Me Gobbler, the NWTF’s state newsletter, for more than 10 years, been a contributor to The Outdoor Guide and to Buckmaster’s web edition. She is a past youth guide for the Kansas Governor’s One Shot turkey hunt and has planned various Women in the Outdoors hunts, along with also instructing Turkey and or Deer hunting at WITO events. She is a collaborating author for two Dutch Oven cookbooks and often instructs Dutch Oven, Outdoor Cooking or Wild Game cooking at Women in the Outdoors’ events. Ellen has hunted mule deer in Idaho, bison in Montana, elk in Colorado, black bear in Canada, turkey in four different states (so far) and deer in Kansas and Missouri – taking two Pope and Young bucks in the last three years. She admittedly “lives to hunt” and loves any outdoor activity.