I have been turkey hunting for more than 15 years now. While some might consider me a seasoned turkey hunter, I always feel I have more to learn. Through the years I have had several mentors along the way. I still utilize some of their tactics along with some I have learned myself, the hard way. I’m going to share with you the essential gear I typically use on my turkey hunts.
A turkey’s sight is one of its biggest advantages and ways of survival. Therefore, good camouflage that allows you to blend into your surroundings is very important. I always wear Mossy Oak camo when I’m hunting. For the early part of spring turkey season I wear the Obsession pattern pants with Infinity or Treestand on my upper body — before the new ground growth has jumped up. When everything is really starting to green up, I usually wear Obsession head-to-toe. Bottom line, you want to blend in to the area you are hunting. As far as clothing, good and comfortable camouflage pretty much “has you covered.”
Boots are a very important piece of any hunter’s repertoire. I highly recommend the Lowa Renegade GTX hikers. Comfortable and not requiring any break-in from the first time I put them on, these boots are my “go-to.” And to ward off those pesky disease carrying ticks, I top my boots with the Outdoor Research Bugout gaiters.
Another item I recommend is rain gear, namely Gore-tex. A little rain doesn’t usually keep me out of the woods. Now, a thunderstorm with lightning cracking all around me is a different story. Lightning isn’t anything to play around with. In fact, when I’m hunting, I always carry my cell phone. I have multiple reasons for carrying it. The first is for safety reasons — in case I have trouble and need to contact someone for help. Of course that only works if you are in an area you have reception. Another reason I carry my phone is to access weather apps. Two of my favorites are Weather Bug and Scoutlook. Additionally, I use Scoutlook to mark spots on aerial maps. I can use this similar to a GPS to help me get around the property and looking for possible set-up locations and ways to get around on a bird. Or, simply to help find my way back to my truck, in case I get turned around after chasing birds in new territory.
As far as the rest of my turkey hunting gear, here is a list of what’s in my vest:
- Cabela’s Tactical Tat’r 2 turkey vest – Comfort and function is key.
- Knight & Hale Long Spur glass and aluminum pot calls – I always have various strikers both wood and composite tipped.
- Knight & Hale Warlock and Sweet V diaphragm call – I always carry more than one mouth call, because you never know which tone a turkey will respond to.
- Knight & Hale locator calls (owl and crow) – You don’t always want to use turkey calls to get a gobble.
- Winchester Xtended Range Hi-Density turkey shells – Make sure you’re using the shell that patterns best with your shotgun and choke tube combo.
- Bushnell Legend 10×42 binoculars – I never go hunting without good optics.
- Bushnell Laser Rangefinder – You don’t always have a chance to get a range on turkeys, but sometimes when they’re out there a ways, it’s nice to know for sure if they’re within range.
- Hunting license and turkey tags – Always make sure you have the proper licenses and tags and a way to attach them to the animal.
- ThermaCELL mosquito repellent – If you’re swatting mosquitoes, you’re moving and going to get busted.
- Ratchet pruner and small limb saw – Just in case you have a limb or too much brush between you and were the turkeys will be.
- Extra gloves and face mask – If you’re like me, you will lose some along the way.
- Decoys – Typically two hens and a jake.
- Extra decoy stake – Just in case you break or lose one, or too keep your decoy from spinning like a top on those windy days.
- Bottle of water – You have to stay hydrated.
- Snacks – For those days you’re out from dark until the very last minute of shooting time.
- Mesh mushroom bag – Just in case you come across those delicious morels. They go great with fried turkey breasts.
- Knife – Because, you just never know when you might need a good knife.
- Flashlights – I usually have a cap light and a handheld flashlight.
I know this may seem like a lot of gear, but today’s turkey vests have lots of pockets and most have a nice roomy game bag on the back. Can you turkey hunt with just a shotgun, shells and one call? Yes, and sometimes I just leave the vest sitting on the ground and take off after a big ol’ tom. I just have to remember where I left my stuff after I finally catch up to him.