Turkeys are formidable birds that will keep you guessing during a hunt. Those toms may not look the part, but they can be tough buggers to bag. You'll need the right gear to have a successful hunt. As with all forms of hunting, having the right gear and knowing how and when to use it will make all the difference. Turkey gear is essential to bagging a gobbler, so be sure you have the following next time you’re out to take on a tom.
Calls are arguably one of the most vital parts of hunting turkey. Knowing how to use the right calls and having enough different calls to create the proper scene can increase your hunting success immensely. Turkeys are very smart animals and will know right away if your calling isn't up to snuff. Be sure to practice all of your diaphragm, box, and slate calls. Using each of these calls, try to learn different ways to use them. There are a wide variety of different sounds that each can make, including clucks, purrs, putts, fly down, yelp, gobbles, and cutts. Spend time mastering different calls and do your homework to know when you should use each of the different types of calls. Calling takes a lot of practice, so be sure to put in the time to get things right. A good place to start is finding a place where you can make some noise and perfect your calling techniques.
Turkey Vests & Camo
Turkeys aren't the dumb birds they look to be. If you aren't wearing the right type of camo, you could be in for a long day of hunting. Turkeys have sharp vision and will be keen to spot you if you’re not well blended into your surroundings. Dress yourself from head to toe in camo and set up a good blind if you can. Don’t forget to get yourself a nice vest for packing in all you'll need. Face paint also adds to your camouflage, it never hurts to get yourself good and covered before making the trip.
As with most decoys, knowing when and where to use them is the toughest part. Having a good variety of decoys to choose from never hurt anyone, though. With turkeys it's a good idea to follow the old adage that “less is more”. Don’t pollute the area with decoys, it won't look natural and you'll have a tough time bringing in any gobblers. Use a hen or a hen and tom to create the best illusion. Keep your decoys close to the edge of a clearing, you don’t want them looking like a loner out in the middle of the field. Try to angle the hen as if she is heading in or out of the clearing but be sure she’s not too obscured.
Turkey Blinds & Seats
Hiding yourself and your gear can really be a challenge when turkey hunting. However, if you set up a blind for yourself, you won't have as much to worry about. Since turkey hunting can often be a game of patience, it's also a good idea to have a comfortable seat that is also camouflaged. You could be sitting for a while, so why not take a load off and wait this one out without killing your back?
Turkey Chokes & Loads
Most turkey hunters prefer at least a full choke on their shotguns. Many modern shotguns also feature screw-in choke tubes to allow you to customize the pattern of your shot for the distance, type of shot, and species you’re after. Turkey chokes are specialized for gobblers, boasting ranges of full choke to extra-full and even “XX-full”. The chokes are tighter because headshots are optimum when hunting turkey and the ranges tend to be further out than when you’re flushing quail or pheasant. The choke you pick will vary somewhat depending on the model of your shotgun, the kind of loads you’re using, and personal preference. On the subject of turkey loads, there’s no shortage of choices. Shot comes in lead, copper-plated, tungsten, and a variety of other materials these days. For the best (and safest) results, match up the load with the shotgun and choke you’ll be using by following the manufacturer’s recommendations on all three. If your budget allows for it, try to pick up a few different types of ammunition and pattern it on a paper target at about 30 or 40 yards before you go on the hunt. Even slight variations can affect performance, sometimes pretty dramatically. Just because your buddy’s gun likes a certain load doesn’t mean that it will work well for you. Having the confidence of knowing you’re dialed in and comfortable with your shotgun and shells will give you an edge when it comes to dropping a bird this spring.