Killing a wild turkey is tough. I mean it takes more than savvy, preparation and experience, it takes good gear. Here's my top five list of must-have pieces of turkey hunting equipment that will greatly improve your chance of putting a thunder chicken on the ground this season.
1. Turkey Vest
Hunter Specialties makes a Sportsmen's Utility turkey vest that holds everything except the kitchen sink. Customized pouches fit 2 slate calls, another pouch will hold your box call and keep it from rattling when you walk. Deep pockets have ribs for shotgun shells. An attached seat cushion has three inches of foam to keep your booty from going numb. And the fasteners for pockets and the seat cushion are magnets (NOT noisy velcro!)
2. Mouth calls
I use a mix of two to three diaphram calls to replicate clucks and yelps in a variety of tones to simulate several birds off the roost. Mouth calls are my favorite simply because I don't have to use my hands. When birds are close, I can keep my hands in shooting position and still talk to the birds. Quaker Boy has a line of Turkey Thugs calls that have 4 awesome diaphrams in one pack. Get more info HERE.
If you don't have one, you need to get one. Anyone that has had mosquitos biting their face while birds are closing in will appreciate it. You fire it up and keep it on the ground next to you and it keeps bugs away. Get info at Thermacell.com.
4. Slate Call
After 21 years of turkey hunting, I just started using one last year. An HS Strut Ring Zone is my personal favorite. It lets me create softer purrs, yelps and the most enticing clucks that sound better than live birds. Yes, there are downsides, like most slate calls are tougher to use when it rains. And the obvious is your hands are moving. But they are great when you are calling for a partner or in a blind where your hands are concealed.
5. Undertaker Choke Tube
Another upgrade I made a few years ago was investing in a good super-full choke tube. I use the Undertaker by Hunter Specialties, but there are a lot of good ones on the market. A good choke tube will add an extra 10-20 yards to your lethal range. Try patterning your gun with and without one and you will see the difference.
There are other items in my turkey hunting arsenal — owl or crow locater call, HS turkey strut seat, ground blind, box call and decoys. But in my opinion these top five are the essentials. Once you get the gear, get familiar with it. Use the calls. And practice, a lot. Make your calling and use of gear second-nature, so you can focus on the birds.
For more information and adventures, check out DanStefOutdoors.com!