Turkey hunters are huge into stuff. In fact, a turkey hunter without a lot of stuff is just another smelly guy who hasn’t had enough sleep and is up way too early.
But what to do with all the stuff? How does it all get into the field? And how is it organized? Enter, the turkey vest—the turkey hunter’s version of a filing cabinet. Here, everything goes, each pocket with an item, and each item with a pocket.
What items? Well, let’s take a look inside the nooks and crannies of my turkey vest and discuss the gear I take afield when I really, and I mean really, want wild turkey for dinner.
Mine is a simple vest, the Deluxe Turkey Vest from Cabela’s in size XL. The Deluxe has everything I’m looking for in a vest. It has wide, comfortable shoulder straps, back padding, a large game pouch, and plenty of zippered and buttoned pockets.
Pot-style Calls, Two
I carry two. My first choice is a treasured crystal-over-slate call in a purpleheart pot made by the boys at Backwoods Calls. The second is a tried-and-true Super Crystal from MAD Calls.
Diaphragm Call Caddy
At the end of the day, I take the caddy from around my neck and put it, calls and all, into the freezer, where my diaphragms stay fresh until the next trip.
Why three headnets? I’m going to lose one, if not two. My nets consist of one lightweight half-mask, a slightly heavier three-quarter mask, and a full over-the-head reversible (Obsession to black) cover from Game Hide.
Fingerless gloves, two
Again, I’m going to lose one set. I like fingerless gloves because (a) I believe I have better control of a striker if I can touch it with my bare flesh, and (b), I feel more comfortable pushing a safety off and pulling a trigger with bare skin.
Selection of strikers
I carry four: two Plain Jane purplehearts from MAD Calls, a Primos Double Down, and a laminate Kee-kee Striker, also from Primos. In another pocket, I have a clunky all-acrylic piece from Hunter’s Specialties. It is not much to look at, but fantastic when it rains or snows.
Coyote Howlers, Two
For distance or under windy conditions, I have a cherry wood megaphone-style howler from MAD Calls. When it’s quiet, I’ll use a short, black unit from Lohman that produces excellent barks and yips.
Barred Owl Hooter
I can’t roll my tongue, so I don’t sound like the boys south of the Mason-Dixon Line when it comes to owl hoot’n. Still, my wooden Palmer Hoot Tube is always with me, and has done a fine job of loosening many an old gobbler’s lips. Turkey lips?
I’m a howler while other guys are big on elk bugles, goose honks, peacock screams, even toy train whistles. Still, my Lohman Gold Series crow call has a place in a pocket.
An old set of Fiskers ride in the inside right pocket, and are often called to action when I need to cut a shooting lane through the puckerbrush or simply when I don’t want to sit in the multi-flora rose bushes.
20-gauge Shotshells, Three
I shoot a Remington Model 870 Youth Model, 20-gauge with a 21-inch barrel, 13-inch stock, sling, and a knock-off red dot illuminated sight, hence, the three 20-gauge shotshells, which, by the way, are 3-inch Winchester Xtended Range No. 5 shot. Why only threeIf I miss three times in one morning, I’m going home and I’m not coming out for a while.
The Gerber Recon-X is five inches long and weighs 4.1 ounces, plus features quick-swivel lenses that offer red, green and white lights with just a twist. It’s handy, and I use it for both turkeys and big game. Gerber also makes a small yet very bright LED lamp that clips onto your hat brim, leaving your hands free to set a decoy, scratch a call, or find your toilet paper. You did remember paper, right?
Zip-lock Bag Containing the Following
This bag will keep you alive. It holds ALEVE tablets, toilet paper, flat duct tape, Q-tips, bandages, emery board, safety pins of various size, spare red dot battery, pen, 36 inches of strong rawhide cord, Visine and Chapstik.
Pacific Pearl Smoked Oysters, One Can
Kill a turkey, and everyone eats smoked oysters in the field. It’s that simple. Oh, and a U.S. Military P-38 can opener.
Anymore, I spend a lot of time sitting and blind-calling over a decoy. That’s when this 6 foot by 27 inch blind from Hunter’s Specialties comes in handy. It’s up, I’m down, and I can call, fidget, read, eat a PB&J, or snooze, all while staying completely hidden.
Decoys, Two; Decoy Stakes, Three
Call me a traditionalist, but I’m a one jake and one hen kind of turkey hunter. As for the stakes, you do the math. I have two decoys, but I carry three stakes. Sad, but true—I lose a lot of stuff. Allow me to end on this note. In turkey hunting, as is the case in all types of hunting, it’s not what you take into the field that matters most. It’s what you do with what you have in the field.