Turkey Calls

I have been hunting turkey for many years now. During this time I have spent more money than I care to remember (or admit to my wife) on gear and equipment in pursuit of gobbling turkeys. I can’t tell you how many turkey calls I have purchased that have gone by the way side, never to again grace my turkey hunting vest. The worst part was, a great deal of them never even made it into the vest! I guess it was easy to justify a few bucks each spring for something that held the promise of being a grunt better than what I was using at the time. After all, with all the other money we spend to be able to participate in this sport, what’s another $10-$20 bucks for a hot new call or other gadget that could give you an edge against a wary adversary. I guess there is nothing wrong with this if you don’t get to carried away.

Turkey Calls

Turkey Calls!

However, after a few years you will eventually come to the same realization that I did…most new gear is much like fishing lures, They are designed to hook more fishermen than fish. So it is with turkey hunting equipment. This is not to say that there are not some great new calls or other turkey hunting paraphernalia brought to market each year.

Here‘s the deal, you can only use one or two turkey calls at a time and you can only carry a limited amount of equipment afield. More importantly, with time and experience you will “cull the head” when it come to your gear, until you have developed the essentials that work for you and your style of hunting turkeys. At this point, you should have in your arsenal, 2-3 key turkey calls, several locator calls and misc. gear that hold a permanent position in your tool box. This setup will cover 90% of your hunting. Here is the key point in all this; it will be battle proven gear that you have confidence in. This cannot be understated! There is no sense in changing what works!

Now, if you find you have a weak link in your tools, by all means, seek out a new piece of gear that will be an upgrade to that key item. I would recommend taking the advice for that new acquisition from someone you know has experience with it. Most new gear such as calls, cannot be tested before you buy them! In the middle of a battle is no place to discover your new hot call has a flaw and fails under pressure!

-What Gear Do You Really Need, To be an Effective Turkey Hunter?

This list would be much shorter than you would expect. If you have been following my articles, you have heard me make the statement that a “master turkey hunter” does not even need a turkey call to be effective at harvesting turkeys. The only gear you cannot live without is your gun, camo and a locator call. With a little practice, hopefully you can get to the point where you can use your natural voice for “owling” and cull one more item from your vest. My best advice here, in general, is to keep your gear limited to the essentials. In up coming articles I will give you some in depth and highly detailed information on exactly what gear I pack around and more importantly….why!

I am not telling you my way is the only way but rather, I am providing you with a proven, successful template that you can use as a base to develop your own “essential gear list.”

Unfortunately, I find much of the information I read about turkey hunting is very general in nature and the author is either not experienced enough to explain in detail why he uses certain items or he just may not be the kind of purpose driven person that scrutinizes every detail of each piece of his equipment. That kind of information will not serve you well. Nor can such an author be taken as an authority. I will show you the where, when, why and my reasoning behind any advise I offer. This way, you can benefit from my experience and make your own intelligent, informed decisions. “Blind followers are easily led astray!” (from the book of Larry)

Picture of my primary turkey hunting gear

My Primary Turkey Hunting Gear!

The following is a general list of items that I consider necessary to ensure a successful hunt.

-The Turkey Hunters Essential Gear List:


-Camo Clothing appropriate for the spring season

-Head net and gloves (fingerless preferred)

-Turkey Hunting Vest with a fold up, waterproof seat cushion

-Binoculars with bino system

-Turkey Calls (diaphragm and box call with chalk)

-Turkey locator calls, Crow & Owl

– Pruning Shears, Small light weight

-Knife, (not to large), a 3″ blade is perfect.

-Flashlight, light weight, the smaller the better!

-Good pair of light weight waterproof boots!

-Tick & chigger repellant (preferably with permethrin )

-Camera with remote or self timer

In up coming articles I will take an in depth look at each item, tell you what I use and why. Some may consider it TMI, (too much information) but it is what makes the difference between a guy that kills a turkey once in a while and a turkeys worst nightmare!

-Tailor Your Gear Around Your Turkey Hunting Style!

This is another key point. One box of tools is not enough to handle all repair jobs! If it was it would be so large you couldn’t move it. However, you can cover most situations with a box that you can carry in one hand. Such is the case when it comes to turkey hunting. You may go on a hunt where conditions dictate a different type of call, maybe a high pitch box for windy hunts or a diaphragm or waterproof slate for wet weather, at times maybe a blind for setting up in the middle of a field.

If you tried to include enough gear to cover all situations you might encounter while hunting turkeys, you would need three men and a boy just to haul it all around. Forget about mobility, which is where the most exciting hunting adventures take place, in my opinion. Rather, your strategy should be to have a base set of gear that will cover most hunts, then add or substitute other items as conditions dictate. Remember, if you can get by without it, leave it in the truck! Don’t sacrifice stealth and mobility for extra gear.

-Why it is Important to Keep Your Turkey Hunting Gear to a Minimum!

If your style of turkey hunting is to sit in a blind for hours on end in one location, then the amount of gear you have to pack in is not as great an issue as for a “run and gun” type hunter. You would not think that a small knife or metal pruning shears, etc. would make much of an impact in your vest but when you combine all the basic gear you really need, It is significant and the weight really adds up quickly.

However, though the overall weight of your gear is important, the real issue is the bulk! When you fold up several collapsible turkey decoys in your vest back, maybe a fly down wing, camera gear, etc, plus a fold up seat cushion, before you know it you feel like the pills berry dough boy.

The problem with this is that you trade away all your stealth in favor of gear. This is a serious mistake for a highly mobile turkey hunter. If you doubt me on this, grab your gun and light camo’s and go slip around in some relatively brushy woods for a little bit, then gear up with all the accessories you would like, (don’t forget the decoys) and try it again! You’ll be hung up on every little bush you pass by. You have just made the two greatest errors a turkey hunter can make, noise and movement! This has educated and saved more turkey’s lives than all other mistakes combined.

If you will gear down and keep it to just the essentials, you will be a far more effective turkey hunter and I guarantee you your success rate will go up. Just select the gear that best compliments your hunting style, tweak it a little as experience dictates and stick with that. Don’t get caught up in trying every trendy gadget that comes on the market. Remember, you were born with the greatest advantage that tops all others …… ….your superior intelligence. First learn to rely on this, it will kill you more turkeys than gadgets ever will!

Best of hunts,

Larry Stephens

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