7 Turkey Hunting Vest Essentials
by Kate Nation
Whether you are new to turkey hunting or looking to improve your success and enjoyment, the gear you pack in your turkey hunting vest can make a big difference. With 145 years of combined turkey hunting experience, five Union Sportsmen’s Alliance staff members shared these turkey hunting vest essentials…plus a few additional turkey gear recommendations.
1. A Turkey Call
USA COO Jason Lupardus recommends a box call because of its versatility but says any one turkey call will work—so pack your favorite and never hit the turkey woods without it. USA Event Manager Kevin Grubbs always takes a mouth diaphragm and a slate or glass friction call and may use both depending on the mood of the turkey.
According to USA Shooting Program Manager Chris Piltz, “pruners are extremely useful when you are running and gunning, and that lone Tom gobbles right on top of you. You might not have the best or most comfortable set up readily available, so it really comes in handy to have a pair of pruners to quickly carve out a nice setup against a tree to allow you a chance at that gobbler.”
3. Thermacell with Extra Butane and Inserts
“A Thermacell is hands down the best mosquito and gnat repellent device made,” says USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “It will make spring hunts a lot more bearable especially in the more southern climates like Florida and Alabama.” Plus, Lupardus adds that “it can make the difference between moving to swat a mosquito and seeing or hearing a turkey come in. Bugs flying around your face, up your nose or in your ears makes it hard to focus.”
4. Ziploc Bags
Perhaps as multi-purpose as Duct tape, Ziploc bags can keep your calls, wallet, turkey tags, shells and anything else dry and organized. Once you harvest a bird, the Ziploc can become an instant meat bag, allowing you to easily clean the bird and get the meat in a cooler.
5. Face Mask and Gloves
Turkeys have some of the best eyesight in the animal kingdom, about 3 times better than a human with 20/20 vision. Not only will the color of your face and hands stand out like a sore thumb, your head and eyes do most of the moving. So…cover them up or spoil your hunt.
6. Extra Shells
You may need extra shells if you miss that turkey or have to defend yourself against a group of wild hogs. “I’ve had to use extra shells to scare off coyotes, a bobcat and multiple feral pigs,” Lupardus said.
7. Dude (or Lady) Wipes
Because you will really want these if nature calls, but they also work great for cleaning dirt, mud, grime or blood off your hands.
Additional Turkey Hunting Gear to aid your hunt and improve your comfort
8. Collapsible Turkey Fan
USA Conservation Programs Manager Sam Phipps has filled his tag on multiple occasions with the use of a collapsible turkey fan. “I use it when a bird hangs up and just won’t come in those extra few yards for a shot. A quick wave of the fan will often do the trick,” Phipps says.
9. Range Finder
This could make the difference between a miss and a successful shot, especially if you’re running and gunning.
10. Piece of Outerwear
A lot of spring mornings are cool enough to start out with a light jacket, but even on those mornings when it’s not necessary, you might want to throw one in your vest. “When it comes to harvesting a mature bird, patience is the name of the game, and you don’t get that without comfort,” says Piltz. “Plus, it can serve as a pillow during a mid-morning lull or extra cushion against and unforgiving tree.”
11. Hand Warmers
Even in the South, spring mornings can start in the 40s or below when the birds start gobbling on the roost. “Trust me,” Piltz says, “there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to call to the fired up Tom because your fingers are numb.”
12. Extra Pair of Socks
Even if you wear high rubber boots during turkey season, sometimes that water is deeper than you think. And you’d be surprised how much moisture can make its way from your pant legs to your feet. Socks don’t take up much space, and they can save you from a miserable hunt.
13. Padded Seat
Your behind will thank you.