Mia Anstine reveals items that she packs in her turkey hunting pack for success on the hunt.
The cuts and cackles of the hens fill the air. They start off a bit slow, with a cluck here and there, and then become more boisterous. The big guy strutting back and forth silences them all with an echoing gobble.
One by one they fly down, and I know it’s on.
If you’ve ever been turkey hunting, you know the feeling of excitement as you watch the turkeys wake. You’ve set up and prepared for this moment. After their fly-down, things happen pretty fast, which is why it’s so important to have the proper gear in your pack.
A good turkey hunting pack makes life on the turkey’s turf a lot easier. We’re all different shapes and sizes, so I recommend one that has adjustable shoulder, chest, and waist straps. Similar to hunting clothing, you don’t want to get hung up in the brush because your vest is too large.
A vest that has a seat cushion will be comfy if you have a long sit as you try to call in a hung-up bird. Make sure your vest has lots of pockets, but stay away from Velcro closures. They’ll not only make noise when you least expect it, but they’ll also make it difficult for you to reach for a new call when you need to switch things up.
Calls – Talking turkey is part of the fun of the hunt. Your vest needs to hold a variety of calls. You’ll want to have gobbler, box, diaphragm, and friction calls. You also need one or two extra strikers, along with sandpaper and chalk for tuning.
I always have a coyote call or locator call in my pack as well. I also add a cow-elk call, because you never know when you’ll have the opportunity to practice calling elk and get a closer look at those magnificent animals.
Decoys – If you’re spot-and-stalk hunting, you’ll want to make sure the decoys fit in your pack. There are many choices for decoys. The particular decoys you choose will fluctuate, depending on the species you’re hunting, the phase of the mating season they’re in, and numerous other factors.
Hat, Facemask, and Gloves– Camouflage hunting clothes are a must, and will help make you invisible to the keen eyesight of a thunder chicken. Always pack a beanie for cold weather, and a cap to protect and conceal your eyes.
Make sure you add a facemask and gloves to the gear in your pack. If you’re a fan of face paint, remember to put it in one of your pouches. I carry a set of thin gloves and mask for hot days and a thicker balaclava and liner gloves for cold days. Gloves aren’t just for keeping your hands warm. Camo gloves conceal jewelry and also help hide movement as you cluck, purr, and maneuver the striker.
Hand and Toe Warmers – Throw in some hand and toe warmers; they keep things pleasant on a cold morning sit. Bring along an extra set, too, for those days when the sunshine turns to rain.
Shells – Always remember to bring extra shotgun shells. And if you’re hunting with a partner, always put your 12-gauge shells in a different pocket than their 20-gauge loads.
Tools – I always have a knife and a multitool in my pack. I use them to breast out birds, and they come in handy in case of emergency. If you’re archery hunting, throw in your Allen wrench set, just in case of crisis.
Emergency Items – Any lady who’s spent time in woods knows the need to have rations of tissues. Another type of item that’s sometimes left behind is feminine hygiene products. Pack those in a private pocket along with Ziploc baggies. The bags will serve to keep them dry and also come in handy for packing out unnecessary items that don’t need to be left in the woods.
Important Miscellaneous Items – If you’re anything like me, springtime means allergy season. I pack extra antihistamines in my vest so as to not have a snotty mess inside my facemask. Plus, gobblers don’t come running to the sounds of sniffles and snorts. Other must-haves for me are lip balm and sunscreen. The elements can be hard on your lips and skin, so remember to protect yourself. Turkeys can’t smell, but if you want the opportunity to see other wildlife, you may want to tone down any scented products.
Snacks and Water – Staying hydrated and nourished is key when you’re spending time in the outdoors. Remember to pack a water bottle or water filter and some healthy snacks.
Oh, and don’t forget your hunting license!