Checking Your Turkey Hunting Gear List
- Shotgun for turkey hunting
- Turkey hunting camo patterns
- Shotgun sling for turkey hunting
- Turkey hunting boots
- Digital mapping
- Turkey calls
- Turkey vest
With turkey hunting season just around the corner it’s time to get your turkey hunting gear list refined and packed. Each turkey season brings with it new ideas, techniques, gadgets and technology. Last season I used the onX Hunt App to stay legal when hunting the fringes of a small parcel of public land. I would have killed my second great public land gobbler if I was a better caller. Practicing my quiet call when gobblers get close is something I’ve added to my turkey hunting gear list. I want to go over things that I use and have on my list for turkey season. With so many things that can go on a turkey hunting gear list, I think I keep it fairly simple. So here is a list of the gear I use for turkey hunting.
Choosing A Shotgun For Turkey Hunting
Choosing a shotgun for turkey hunting has become a big topic of discussion in the past few years. While it always has been since those big fancy turkey guns hit the market it had tapered off a little as people settled into their shogun of choice for turkey hunting. There are those that have the tricked out camoed up shotguns with pistol grips, red dot scopes and turkey calls attached to picatinny rails. Then there are those, like myself, that have an old beat up Mossberg 500 and love it. Oh we might kick around the idea of a red dot or optic, I know I do every year, but always ask myself why.
An optic could be in the cards for me in the near future as my eyes get a little older. I think it might help me pick a hole a little better in the underbrush to make the shot. I actually just went shopping this morning. Like I do every year as the season approaches. I was looking for a pistol grip and a scope for my Mossberg. I finally dropped it all and decided to write this article instead.
As mentioned, the thing that has the talk back to a feverish pitch among turkey hunters is the TSS loads. TSS stands for (Tungsten Super Shot). It has the turkey hunting shotgun manufacturers building new shotguns strictly because of the TSS load. While the 20 gauge has been a popular turkey gun for many years the 12 gauge 3.5 inch shotgun was more popular. Now with this heavier TSS ammo that sends more pellets downrange with less drag for greater range, the 20 gauge is creeping into at least a more stable place among turkey hunters that are looking for lightweight that still has plenty of killing power beyond the range of their old 12 gauge turkey gun.
The .410 Shotgun For Turkey Hunting
Now enter the .410 shotgun for turkey hunting. Still a bit of controversy among many turkey hunters but for the guy that loves a challenge and the look and feel of a .410 shotgun there is a market for it for sure. Heck I have started using a henry lever action .410 with 2.5 inch shells to squirrel hunt and I love it. As long as turkey hunters keep the range in reason with the smaller shotgun they will kill turkeys. It has been proven and as I always say. “To each his own.”
So if you want me to pick a shotgun for turkey hunting I won’t. I shot my grandad’s old Winchester model 1400 for many years and loved it. In fact I have thought about going back to it just for nostalgic reasons. To say that a shotgun for turkey hunting is a personal choice would not only be a cliche’, but also an understatement. There are so many options out there for shotguns and now with the TSS loads for turkey hunting the .410 shotgun has entered the picture as a viable offering. These new .410 turkey shotguns are shooting turkeys at good distances with the TSS ammo. Check out Gobbler by the Creek.
The .410 shotgun is a option for those turkey hunters that want a lightweight turkey hunting shotgun, but I think that some of it just might be a “just because I want to” kind of thing. I know I love hunting with my lever action .410 and it is by far not the optimum choice for squirrel hunting. The choice has got to be for the hunter to decide based on their way of hunting and personal choice. There are just too many great options out there for me to pick the best shotgun for turkey hunting. Have fun and enjoy the hunt.
Camouflage For Turkey Hunting
It is no secret that turkeys can see very well. I have read that a turkey can see 10 times better than humans. As a hunter I would argue that turkeys can see 100 times better than humans. This is why one of the most important items on any hunter’s turkey gear list is the camouflage they use for turkey hunting. Many turkey hunters go with the bright green patterns to match the early spring foliage so often encountered in the springtime turkey woods. This is a great option if you hunt field edges or places void of big trees.
I think that for turkey hunters that hunt big woods 9 times out of 10, when given the time to do so, a hunter will set up at the base of a tree. My turkey hunting takes me through big woods and I usually find myself set up with a giant oak or hickory tree to lean against. I noticed one spring that with my spring green foliage camouflage I stuck out like a turkey hunter against the grey bark of the tree. This is when I went to my go to camouflage for my turkey hunting and that’s the Mossy Oak Bottomland pattern.
- Choose your turkey hunting camouflage based on your hunting areas.
- If you hunt field edges and cutovers then a little bright green will do well.
- If you turkey hunt the big woods, where big trees often become a part of your set up, then grey and brown become a very important pattern.
- The Mossy Oak Bottomland camo is perfect for this.
Shotgun Sling For Turkey Hunting
Many turkey hunter are using a shotgun sling for hunting turkeys. A shotgun sling becomes a great addition when running through the woods to intercept a gobbler a couple ridges over. With ditches and creeks to cross, hills to climb and the need to call while on the move makes the ability to sling your turkey hunting shotgun invaluable to the serious turkey hunting. I have tried many slings over the years and even made a few with rope trying to get what I wanted, but they all fell short. I finally constructed a shotgun sling out of a thin but durable leather strap keeping the hardware minimum, weight down. These features required a single length.
Of all of the slings I have ever owned I never adjusted the length. All that extra leather and hardware only added weight. It made it much too bulky to remove and stow when ready for the ultimate showdown with the gobbler coming down the ridge or through the swamp bottom. One of the featured I wanted in the sling was the ability to remove the sling and stow it in a shirt or vest pocket.
This Run & Gun Sling is easily moved from one gun to another. By installing swivel studs on your shotguns and rifles you can remove the sling from one weapon and put it on another. The Run & Gun sling is also light and slim to make it possible to roll it up and quickly tuck it into a pocket and get ready for the hunt without worrying with a sling dangling from the shotgun swinging in the wind. We all know how well a turkey can see by removing the sling the turkey hunter is able to remove a possibly boogered hunt. When the bird is down or took a different route requiring a move just attach the quick disconnect swivels to the studs and make your move.
The Run & Gun Sling is narrow by design. Unlike the wider slings with padding that always slide off your shoulder while walking. This narrow and thin sling fits nicely over backpack straps and vest accessories like a reed call box attached to the turkey vest shoulder for convenience. By being thin and pliable and narrow the run & gun sling finds a comfortable spot on the hunter’s shoulder and remains. It is exactly what I was wanting in my turkey hunting shotgun sling. It just works great even on my other rifles when deer hunting as well as my favorite squirrel hunting gun the .410 Henry lever action. Check out the following video I made during a heated gobbler heading my way.
The gobbles you hear are real. I did not dub them in. It was the perfect time to film the removal of the Run & Gun Sling under the heat of the hunt.
Turkey Hunting Boots
What is the best hunting boots for turkey hunting. Hunting boot should be comfortable above all else. I’d say to be sure they are waterproof. You could forego this feature, but that early morning dew seems to find its way inside hunting boots, so keep that in mind. I would love to wear lightweight hiking boots to hunt turkeys but I hunt swamp bottoms that are infested with cottonmouth so I require snake boots to hunt turkeys and would add that it is probably a good idea for any turkey hunter to have snake boots.
I wear the Danner Pronghorn Snake Boots and they are very comfortable. In fact I have hung up my rubber boots for most of deer season and replaced them with these boots. They are just so comfortable it made sense to make them my primary boot. Also, there’s still cottonmouths, rattlesnakes and copperheads out and about during bow season.
Snake Boots For Hunting Turkeys
Snake boots are not the only option. The Danners might not be in the price range for a lot of turkey hunters so shop around and ask around to find a comfortable boot for the hunting you do. I have hunted farms where I could wear tennis shoes if I wanted to but now I hunt some really gnarly stuff and would not go 10 steps without boots on and my wife requires snake boots and I’m good with that. Irish setter boots is a good boot with a lower price point. They offer many designs and are quality boots for turkey hunting.
Mid High Turkey Hunting Boots
If you like a good solid boot that offers a good foot bed, gripping soles and ankle support for jumping across ditches and wading creeks then a mid high turkey hunting boots will work fine. With a mid high boot there is less material that’s needed for construction. This can keep the cost down considerably. My suggestion is to stay with as good a boot as you can afford. The old saying goes well with turkey hunting boots, “you get what you pay for.” With a mid high boot costing less you might can get a quality boot like the Danner Pronghorn hunting boot.
Rubber Turkey Hunting Boots
I’m including this in my turkey gear list because a lot of turkey hunters love their rubber boots. I have some friends and all they wear is rubber boots. Personally I hunted with my deer hunting rubber boots just a couple times before I knew they would not work for me. They are just not comfortable enough for me. Your turkey hunting boots should fit well and give great support. I’m sure there are some great rubber boots for turkey hunting out there. The thing I’ll never like about rubber boots during active hunts is its inability to breathe. I learned in the Army to always keep your feet dry. Your feet will thank you.
I go with other materials when turkey hunting. There are some great rubber turkey hunting boots on the market that fit much better than the older rubber boots we used to wear but again while they are 100% waterproof it does no good when your feet are soaked from inside because the sweat can’t escape. I have some Lacrosse Rubber boots that I use for deer hunting and I love them. They also have a liner inside that I am sure would help absorb the sweat a little but I have just got used to my leather boots and so that’s what I am going to use when turkey hunting in the spring.
Digital Mapping In The Turkey Woods
Digital devices have made their way on the hunting gear list for years now. Some have fought it relying on old school woodcraft to locate and kill turkeys each season. I embraced the GPS early on as a way to find my way back to the truck in the dark. I was slow to accept trail cameras and other digital technologies in my hunting. Not so much out of rebellion but more for the inconvenience of it all. Digital technology is always progressing and changing.
As soon as I figured out how to work a particular piece of digital hunting device it all changed and I found myself learning something new. I preferred relying on my knowledge of terrain and sign to do my hunting. Today though technology has improved and maybe I have adapted to it better. I’m beginning to accept it in my hunting. One of those is digital mapping for your cell phone.
There are several apps available today that can help in your turkey hunting, especially if you hunt unfamiliar properties. Some apps can even tell you where the boundaries are. This feature helps you stay within the boundaries. Oftentimes the turkeys are on private land. Knowing where that line is you can call them into your setup on public land. Or the property that you have permission to hunt. I have been able to not only use it for this application, but it has also helped me find new areas to hunt that I never knew existed before using digital mapping in the turkey woods. You can also use these apps to mark a roost. Then you can sneak in the next morning to set up.
The app that I use is the onX App is a great way to locate new hunting areas by searching for small chunks of public land that most people don’t know exists. You can view the map and find access points to the public land you want to hunt. Also on private land a land owner can point out all the boundaries and any access points or cautions about the property.
I’ve been fortunate to gain access to some pretty big farms out west and the landowner was good enough to drive me around. He pointed out all of the boundaries and places to park. It seemed there was always questions about a fence or a road that he didn’t mention. With the onX hunt App you can mark all of these concerns. With the ariel view the landowner tends to remember and point out even more valuable tidbits about his or her land.
Of all the things on your turkey hunting gear list a turkey call is right up there with the most important. If you can’t get the turkey into range then you can’t kill it. The call market has been growing and growing over the years. There are so many calls on the market. It becomes hard to choose from mouth calls to box calls and all the other calls that strap to your leg or shotgun barrel. Turkey hunters have plenty to choose from when it comes to turkey calls. I find it hard to get away from my box calls. There are two reasons I like a good box call. First I know how to use a box call to some degree of success and second is because it keeps me from calling when the turkey gets in close and can see me if I move.
The hardest thing for turkey hunters to do is to stop calling when they have the bird close. I boogered a great public land tom last season. That turkey would have given me two great public land gobblers for the season. I tried to call him in just a few more steps when it looked like he was hung up. I didn’t use my box call because the tom was too close. My attempt to make a subtle yelp with my mouth call failed. I haven’t mastered the mouth call and should have known better. I decided to give it a go and let out the loudest nastiest yelp you have ever heard. Needless to say the gig was up. The gobbler turned tail and I knew I would probably not get another chance at that turkey, but it was fun while it lasted.
A slate call is a call that I do like to use when I know the turkey is in close but not too close. I can make subtle calls with the slate call and get the turkey moving in my direction. These light subtle yelps are crucial when the turkey gets close and is a call that should be mastered. Push pull calls can work too. I’ve used one strapped to my shotgun barrel to some success over the years. My personal observation has been that these calls can be inconsistent. Not because the call is flawed, but the caller must keep the same pressure throughout for a consistent call. This is not a problem with low pressured turkeys. However, when it comes to high pressured public land gobblers I prefer the box call and slate.
I do use the mouth call to search for gobblers. When I’m within setup range I switch to the slate and the box call. These are the calls I’m confident using. I am working on the mouth call every year and you should too. Calling turkeys hands free is great and will allow you that one last subtle yelp or cluck to move the bird into range.
Choosing a turkey vest can be tough today. There are so many turkey vests on the market today that it can be hard to choose just one. So why not have two. A great way to cover all turkey hunting conditions is to have two different turkey vest to grab depending on the turkey hunting conditions. Some turkey seasons begins with frost on the ground and the temps stay low throughout the day. This is a good time to grab your heavy turkey vest. When the season opens and it’s 72 degrees at daybreak then grab the lightweight mesh turkey vest.
I hunt public land and tend to be on the move chasing gobblers most of the time. I do love my fancy turkey vest with all the pockets and cushioned back and a nice thick seat. There are times though when I prefer a simple mesh vest. These turkey vests don’t have cushions, fancy pockets and is mostly mesh or open for air flow. I’ve found that the nice heavy turkey vest will slow you down in warm weather. Luckily the lightweight vest are at a low price point and is easy to add to your turkey hunting gear list so that your ready for whatever mother nature throws at you. Here is a few turkey vest options for this spring.