A lot of expensive equipment isn’t necessarily essential for turkey hunting, however, having good turkey hunting gear can make an experience more enjoyable. For many, open turkey season is a time of joy, tradition, and good sport. Turkey hunters across the United States get an opportunity to test their skill and experience against the wild gobblers and perhaps even pass on tradition to the next generation.

Whether new to the sport or a seasoned veteran of hunting, having good gear options and being familiar with their proper use can ensure a positive and safe hunt for all participants.

Essential Turkey Hunting Gear: What Every Hunter Needs

Essential gear for spring turkey season can be broken down into a short list of items. A simplified breakdown would be firearms and ammunition, camouflage and apparel, accessories, and personal protection. One of the biggest differences between hunting big game and wild turkey is the amount of meat on each bird.

Because of this, having an understanding of the particulars of firearms and ammunition is an important element of executing a successful hunt. However, even if a hunt is not successful, maximizing learning ensures that hunters, whether new or experienced, walk away with something gained.

Firearms and Ammunition: Selecting the Best for Turkey

Being conscious of damaging game versus hunting for fur is always a concern for skilled turkey hunters. This plays directly into firearms and ammo and choosing appropriately based on the goals of the hunt. A quality turkey shotgun is absolutely essential and ideally is lightweight and relatively low recoil. Ghost ring sights or even an enhanced optic can assist beginners and help build confidence, and many shotguns come equipped with these as stock features.

Ammo is another big concern, when turkey hunting, thankfully, despite the many shortages over the last ten-plus years in the industry, turkey ammo has remained relatively plentiful and available. Choose a shell designated for turkey, with clean burning powder, high velocity, and FPS (feet per second), and is affordable by putting holes in the turkey and not your wallet.

Chokes and Calls: Precision and Communication

Chokes are essential for controlling shot spread, that is the more or less the pattern and spread of the projectile pellets that are shot out of a shotgun. This can help ensure desired results for shooting at different distances, especially accuracy.Turkey hunting requires specific chokes and the gun and ammo must be considered as well for how they combine to work together.

Turkey Calls are another important aspect of turkey hunting and consist of making sounds that attract turkeys to a hunter. A traditional box call which usually consists of a wooden box with a strike paddle and can make a variety of turkey-attracting sounds including clucks, cackles, and gobbles remains popular despite more advanced options being available such as the mouth call. A Mouth call has become very popular because it doesn’t require hands to make sounds and uses thin latex. Hunters can stalk and even engage with firearms while keeping a mouth call in, making them far less clumsy than a box call.

Camouflage and Apparel: Blending In with the Environment

Camo gear and turkey hunting clothes are a well-known essential component of a successful hunt largely due to the very adept eyesight turkeys have developed over thousands of years. Mossy Oak developed an optimal pattern of camouflage that proved effective in the field called Bottomland, which resembled dirt, sticks, leaves, and mud rendering a hunter mostly invisible in areas prone to standing water. Realtree is another reputable company that has developed some of the most popular patterns for hunting apparel. Both companies have also successfully put their patterns on firearms as well as clothes and gear.

A good kit should consist of a turkey vest which helps to carry ammo and supplies, hunting pants (durable, water resistant, with extra pockets), and a sleeve shirt or hoodie with a base layer to provide moisture wicking. Staying as dry as possible even from sweat cannot be overstated.

Hunting Accessories: Enhancing the Hunt

Hunting accessories can be very effective in enhancing a hunt and provide an array of benefits and advantages. Staying dry is also critical when it comes to caring for a hunter's feet, with quality hunting boots being an essential component of hunting apparel. Optimally, quality hunting footwear should be water resistant, durable, and versatile not only maintaining dryness but also keeping feet warm and concealed from the keen eyes of a gobbler. A quality facemask combined with headwear can also provide excellent camouflage while protecting a hunter's face and head from the elements.

Camo bibs and a neck gaiter are especially useful in cold, wet environments and allow a hunter the ability to stay dry and comfortable when stalking. An excellent accessory for modern-day turkey hunters is a bino harness which not only holds and protects binoculars but can also be used to store other items such as a tactical light or compass. It’s easy to get carried away when stocking up on accessories, however, the longer a hunter spends in the field, the more areas of opportunity for new equipment will make themselves present.

Innovative Hearing Protection: AXIL Cutting-Edge Solutions

Hearing protection by itself is utterly important to anyone using firearms, whether for sport, hunting, or training. However, AXIL provides multiple options with added benefits that can enhance a hunting experience and make a hunter more effective and aware. From simple inexpensive plugs to advanced ear muffs that provide accessibility to Bluetooth devices and increased spatial awareness. AXIL has developed cutting-edge technology that can provide hunters with a tactical edge even in the rugged outdoors, providing comfortable, intuitive earbuds designed to function in harsh environments. Being able to hear Turkey from farther away and knowing what direction they are coming from well in advance while providing your ears with the best protection available, should be an essential objective for any hunter.

Advanced Tactics for Turkey Hunting

Patience is imperative for a skilled hunter. It seems like a simple tip, however, a hunter doesn’t always have a perfect call or perfect location, but being able to wait it out has helped many hunters bag prime game.

Using decoys is another advanced technique for hunting turkey. Especially using them to draw in hens which tend to be more inquisitive and can be drawn in by decoys. Also, looking for roosting trees, tracks and upturned leaves, essentially tracking.

Mastering mouth calls is essential as well, mostly because they require virtually no movement. However, simply making mouth calls isn’t enough, learning to time calls less often and with longer periods of silence. These are all advanced techniques perfected over time by experienced turkey hunters. The most advanced tactic is trial and error honed over more time spent in the field.

Scouting and Setup: Laying the Groundwork

As mentioned above, scouting is an essential aspect of Turkey hunting, and using hunting decoys as well as learning their habitats will contribute to successful hunts. Setting up a tom (male turkey) decoy can draw in hens, but needs to be placed strategically, meaning within relatively close shooting range, or in clear view of treestands or other concealed structures. Many hunters experiment and customize different layouts after identifying feeding areas and hone their setups over time, even considering how they shoot and which side they like to aim from. A Successful hunter can customize their layout to optimize their vision, awareness, and shooting.

Hunting Strategy: Engaging the Gobbler

Detailed well thought-out hunting strategy will take time to develop. However, once mastered, scouting and layout will exponentially improve results. Turkey calls can attract a gobbler and many hunters have specific methods. If patience is a priority, developing effective calls with box or mouth calls will bear fruit and bring in the birds. A hunter needs to keep in mind the effect that the elements can have on calls and decoys, with wind and rain affecting both.

Turkey Hunting Gear FAQ: Expert Advice

What is the best…is a common sentiment applied to equipment and accessories. However, the adage applies, if there was a “best” everyone would have it. Ultimately the best gear and strategies are the gear and strategies that best suit the individual hunter. A Remington 870 is possibly the most well-known and respected turkey-hunting shotgun around. However, several offerings by other manufacturers can be considered more suitable for beginner hunters. The best way to choose the “best” gear is to consult the experts. Experts are not always available, so talking to friends and family who hunt is also the best option. Examine their equipment and ask questions.

The internet is a profound source of info, so much so that it can be overwhelming, however, best sellers can be researched and great deals and special offers can be found, allowing financial flexibility to experiment with different equipment. Reading FAQs on different hunting sites is also a great way to learn about gear, equipment, and techniques. It’s a learning process, regardless of experience level. Even hunters who have been at it for decades will usually admit that they are still learning. The hunting community is generally friendly supportive and welcoming to new members. This can be a great environment for continued learning.

Wrapping up: Essential Tips for Turkey Hunting Success

Turkey hunting is an American tradition that has persevered for generations. That being said, there are always changes in technology, regulations, and techniques. By understanding turkey hunting essentials, a new hunter can embark on a hunt with a solid foundation of confidence and knowledge. Equipment and tools are various and the scale of cost and value is tremendous. Turkey shotguns can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. It’s been said that a true expert never blames their equipment, this applies aptly to hunting and skill at arms.

Don’t focus on price points as quality equipment isn’t reserved just for high-price tagged items. The checkout page can be a great place to search for special deals and help a new hunter acquire gear and accessories for lower prices. Most hunters use a friend or family member's or friend's shotgun on their first trip out. This applies to other equipment as well. A good friend who acts as a guide is probably the best way to transition into the world of turkey hunting and can also help with choosing equipment and learning strategy and technique.

Turkey Hunting FAQs

What type of shotgun is recommended for turkey hunting?

A reliable shotgun is crucial for turkey hunting, with 12-gauge shotguns preferred for their power. However, 20-gauge shotguns provide a lighter alternative while still being capable of downing a turkey effectively.

Why is a turkey-specific choke important in turkey hunting?

A turkey-specific choke is important because it tightens the shot pattern, which increases the hit probability at longer ranges. This enhancement is critical in improving the lethality of your shots.

What are some effective types of turkey calls?

Effective types of turkey calls include box calls, slate calls, and diaphragm calls. These calls are used to mimic turkey sounds like yelps, clucks, and gobbles, which are essential for attracting turkeys.

What should I look for in camouflage for turkey hunting?

Effective camouflage for turkey hunting should match your hunting environment to blend in well, as turkeys have sharp eyesight. It is also recommended to use face paint or masks to cover any exposed skin.

What are some strategic tips for setting up a turkey hunting spot?

When setting up for turkey hunting, position yourself strategically near roosts but not too close to avoid spooking the birds. Utilize a mix of decoys and consider your calling strategy based on turkey responses, adjusting the intensity as necessary.

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