From beginners to pros, here’s the turkey hunting gear you’ll need to take down that ultimate gobbler!
There is nothing like a crisp spring morning in the field trying to conquer the spring turkey season. There is nothing like the thrilling chess match between you and a gobbler to get the blood pumping. Or the sheer adrenaline rush of having a giant tom come rushing up within 10 yards of your hide. Spring turkey season offers dedicated hunters one of few spring hunting opportunities, and turkey hunting does not disappoint! But perhaps you are just getting started or are looking for some new gear to take out in the field with you. Here are five pieces of turkey hunting gear you shouldn’t go hunting without.
Basics of Turkey Hunting
Turkeys are hunted in various ways, and you might find yourself using every strategy possible to try and put a gobbler in the freezer this year. Sitting and calling is the most popular version of turkey hunting, but it can quickly turn into a spot-and-stalk hunt.
The key is not to spook them. If spooked, turkeys will take-off faster than one might think they could. Picture a smaller version of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park…that’s a turkey running for their life. Once they run off, it is difficult to get close enough to take a shot a second time. For a beginner, it is near impossible.
Turkeys have excellent eyesight and can pick up even slight movements. They also use their hearing to locate fellow birds from a great distance. But the focus is on the males of the species, toms, also known as gobblers. They are the main focus during the spring season. They are constantly trying to find a female or hen, and that is what we are going to make them think they are coming to with our calls.
As stated above, turkeys have extremely good eyesight that allows them to see movement well. Blending in is a massive part of turkey hunting. A good set of camouflage and/or a nice pop-up blind can certainly pay dividends during turkey season.
If you are a deer hunter that hunts early fall, you may already have a lightweight set of camouflage that could be multi-purposed for turkey season. Camouflage patterns with more green colors do well to match the springtime growth that you will encounter, allowing you to blend more seamlessly.
While turkeys have excellent eyesight, the number one thing that will get you busted is your movement. It is the same way as deer hunting, but do not move an inch if a turkey can see you. You have to wait for the perfect moment to move your shotgun into place and take a shot, or else that tom will run or fly off and never be seen again.
Also, be sure to know your weather. The springtime weather is notorious for changing and shifting rapidly, from cold, crisp mornings to sweltering late-afternoon heat. Be prepared for anything.
Blinds are also a great option for cover, especially if you are hunting with a partner and are new to turkey hunting. They offer great concealment, are portable, and allow you to get away with a few more mistakes.
Gun, Choke, & Ammo
When it comes to turkey hunting, a gun, the proper choke, and turkey loads can make all the difference in the world. Putting a kill shot on a turkey requires a headshot. You want to avoid the body as much as possible to preserve the meat.
The most popular shotguns for turkey hunting are the 12 gauge and 20 gauge shotguns. Most hunters have one of these already in their arsenal of firearms for various other types of hunting, and with a quick modification or two, they can be great turkey guns.
Most 12 and 20 gauge shotguns have interchangeable chokes that can be screwed in and out of the end of the barrel. You will want to swap out your current choke for a turkey choke. This will keep the shot in a tighter pattern when firing at a turkey’s head, putting a higher amount of shot in the kill zone.
Ammunition is the final part of this equation. There are now specific turkey loads of various sizes. The range of #4 to #6 turkey loads will give you the maximal range and killing power.
Be sure to pattern your turkey gun with the choke and ammunition you plan to use in the field. To learn how to pattern your turkey gun, check out this video.
Calls are a vitally important part of your turkey hunting gear – especially during the spring season as it is breeding season, and turkeys are vocal locators when finding a mate. There are several different kinds of calls, and each takes practice to use effectively.
Pot calls are simply small wood pots with a flat piece of slate in them. The user uses a wooden rod to scratch or drag across the slate to make the sounds of a hen. One downside is that they take both hands to use.
Box calls are small wooden boxes with a pivoting lid that creates vibration noises as the lid crosses the sides of the box. When used properly, these calls also mimic the sound of a hen turkey. Similar to the pot call, these take two hands to operate.
Box Call – Image Source: Meateater
Also known as diaphragm calls, these calls are made of rubber or latex reeds that create hen calls when air is forced across them. These are the most popular of calls but are also the hardest to master. The upsides are the most realistic sounding call and they completely free your hands to make a shot.
Tube calls are very similar to duck and grunt calls, but make the sound of a hen. They create a very realistic sound that tends to carry better. This might be the best option if you are familiar with duck or grunt calls already.
Decoys can be very useful to get the trophy gobbler to run up to your location. As the gobbler gets into range, having something that it can lock its eyesight on is very beneficial.
Hen decoys are great, as that is exactly what the toms are looking for. Toms will come rushing into hen decoys to strut their stuff and try to mate.
Image source: Outdoor Life
Jake(young male) and tom decoys can also be useful as other toms will be aggressive towards fellow males who might be trying to mate the same hens. A mature tom will rush in to prove their dominance over young males.
A great practice that tends to be successful is having a few hen decoys with a couple of jake decoys set about five to ten yards away. This gives off the appearance of jakes trying to get cozy with the hens, which will drive the toms nuts!
Vest with a seat
With all that turkey hunting gear you might be toting around in the field, a good vest with numerous pockets comes in handy to quickly access all that gear. Especially with the above-mentioned gear, easy access with minimal movement can help you stay hidden better than using a backpack.
These vests are compact but offer more than enough room for everything you will need to turkey hunt. The pockets are usually all situated on the front to allow for easy access and minimal movement. These are especially useful if you are hunting on the move.
Many of these seats also come with a built-in seat that allows you to comfortably sit on the ground or brush yourself in. These seats come padded and also help keep your backside dry when sitting on the ground. These come highly recommended to any turkey hunter out of pure comfort and handiness.
There you have it — our top 5 must haves for turkey hunting. Before you pick up your gear you’ll also want to make sure you are hunting safely and legally by obtaining your state certified hunting education. With the right gun, gear, coverage and education we’re sure your turkey hunting adventures will be full of success!