Time Tested Turkey Hunting Tools
|Firearms - Shotguns|
Each spring I scan every catalog and magazine ad to see what new products are available which will insure a success turkey season. It's fun to experiment with new hunting gear and judge for myself its effectiveness in the areas I hunt. However, over the years I have come to rely on a short list of turkey hunting products and tools I feel are absolutely necessary for my comfort and hunting success. Requirements for a product to make my list are simple, anything I carry, use, or wear must have a specific purpose and must work as hard as I do in any situation or weather condition.... period.....no exceptions.
In many states, March roars in like a lion... and stays that way... right through turkey season. Chilling winds test the fortitude and hearing capacity of many hunters as well as the sound carrying capabilities of most turkey and locator calls.
April showers may bring May flowers but it must also have something to do with bringing baby turkeys. Turkeys are notorious for frolicking about in soggy weather. Therefore, I strive to make sure that all my gear can withstand a good soaking and continue to function.
May is a time for nature to renew itself with blossoms and births. Hens are nesting and gobblers are once more on the prowl. It seems that every living creature is busy going about their own mission in life. I happen to think that it is a personal mission for every tick, chigger, and snake to pay me a visit before the end of turkey season, therefore my equipment must also defeat the unwanted advances of these pests.
What are the things I use which can hold up to these seasonal rigors yet convince a turkey to waltz up and stop a load of number 6's ?
All clothing must be functional in some capacity to make the list. I've found that over the years I'm never very far from a Gore-Tex label. It can be found in my boots, hat, gloves and rain gear. Often, I hunt for days in a camo rain parka and pants. When the sun shines and the bugs crawl I switch to breathable cotton camos with stretchy leg gaiters bridging boot tops and tightly tucked- in pant legs. Ever since a wild turkey hen politely stepped across my outstretched legs while wearing a die-cut leafy suit, I've been a firm believer in the effectiveness of this garment. Leafy suits are now available with a tight mesh, insect resistant base to provide a barrier for disease carrying ticks and mosquitos.
Turkey hunting usually requires lots of walking in wet conditions, be it swollen creeks, muddy fields, or dew soaked grasses. Tall waterproof boots are a must. Light-weight, ground-gripping, kind-to-your-feet, are qualities I also look for in turkey hunting foot gear. The 16 inch leather and cordura, waterproof Snake Boot fills the bill for every requirement, not to mention the real purpose of the boot, hence the name.
A turkey hunters vest must serve many purposes. It has to have the capacity to store, protect, and transport all of the needs and tools of the hunter in a handy and accessible fashion. A vest will ideally provide a comfortable and protective seat for the hunter wherever he or she decides to drop. And a perfect vest will do all of the above while providing additional camoflauge and producing no squeaks, rustles or unnatural noises and yet not become a burden to carry all day. That is a big order for any piece of equipment so choose your hunting vest wisely. I've come to prefer the vests containg a built-in seat with a backrest. There is simply no comparison for comfort when waiting for a hung-up bird to make up his mind and versatility when there is no ideal place to set-up. A vest with bird bag lined with a blood proof material is especially nice for transporting that tom after a successful hunt.
The guidelines I place on a turkey hunting firearm can be classified as utilitarian. A gun must pattern well, reach out and tap a turkey noggin with force, withstand water and adverse conditions, be balanced and handy to hold for long periods, lightweight enough to carry all day, yet deliver a moderate recoil. I've found that camo composite stocked shotguns are better suited to the abuse I unintentionally impose on a firearm. With a tight choke on one end and a recoil pad made from extra-dense vibration absorbing material capping the other end, a 12 gauge, shooting 3 inch magnums is perfect. Recently I've come to prefer a single-shot gun for the simplicity and light-weight attributes. Rarely, has a gobbler ever offered more than one shot so I feel no handicap where this is concerned. A good shoulder strap and sturdy fiber-optic sights complete this very simple yet effective gun set-up.
I consider decoys and calls to be tools of the trade and just like the rest of my gear, I prefer solid, no-frills products that work in every situation. It is hard to beat a good friction call for day in and day out turkey hunting. However I depend on different types for certain seasonal conditions. A good wooden box call is perfect for carrying those hen yelps a long distance during those windy March mornings. But when daily April showers become a fact of turkey hunting life, nothing beats a ceramic or aluminum slate-type call with a carbon-tipped striker. They will purr and putt, wet or dry. For a decoy to be purposeful, the first order is a realistic appearance. After that it is the little things which makes the difference. Look for a decoy that is lightweight, that folds neatly and compactly. One which will retain its shape and color and that is made from a material tough enough to resist tears. I prefer using the umbrella-type body expanders to a solid stick for staking out these birds. I've also enjoyed excellent success with a yank string attached to a decoy for additional realism from head and body movement.
Other essentials which make THE LIST are a good pair of compact binoculars, ratchet cutters, and a face mask that hinders neither my vision or breathing.
It may seem a tall order to find products which work as hard as you for that big gobbler but I guarantee that having the right tools will make you a happier, more successful, hunter this spring.
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