6 Hunting Gear Items You Will Need to Get Started in Turkey Hunting
Like most any kind of outdoor pursuit, turkey hunting can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. If you’re just getting started, you’re best off keeping your gear simple and concentrating on learning the terrain and the birds. After all, the old saying is undeniably true – “You don’t have to be a great turkey caller if you know where the birds will go and you’re waiting for them when they get there!”
If this will be your first turkey season, we are jealous! You have so much excitement and adventure ahead of you! It really doesn’t take a lot of gear to get started and have a good chance at taking that first gobbler. We’re going to assume you own or can borrow a shotgun, but beyond that here are 9 basic items that will boost your odds of success without making turkey hunting complicated or costly:
1. Turkey Friction Calls - The Easiest-to-Learn
The simplest, most realistic, easiest-to-learn style of call is a turkey box call. With it, you make the sounds of a hen turkey by sliding the wooden paddle across the wooden wall of the box to which it’s attached. With some personal or video instruction (search YouTube; it’s loaded with box calling instructional videos) you’ll learn to make realistic calls in just a few minutes.
You don’t need to break the bank with a “collectible” or “competition” grade box call. Something in the $20.00 - $40.00 range is perfect for the beginner and young hunters like the RedHead Ozark Bottoms Custom Cherry, Cedar and Purple Hear Waterproof Box Turkey Call - about $34.99 or the popular Quaker Boy Hurricane Waterproof Box Turkey Call about $24.99.
Learn the basic hen turkey calls like yelps, clucks, purrs and more quickly on this fantastic call. Special waterproof treatments help keep cranking out the calls even if the weather turns rainy or humid.
The next step up in calling is the slate or pot call. With this style of call you hold the “pot” flat in one hand and a “striker” in the other. When the striker is pulled across the surface whether that’s slate, ceramic, or whatever, the call produces turkey sounds. The great thing about pot calls is you can produce a wide range of volumes to reach out to distant birds or “whisper” to those approaching close. This type of friction call takes a little longer to master because you need to learn just how to hold the striker and what kind of stroke makes which sound. It’s not difficult, it just takes a little more time and practice.
A good starter slate call will fall into that same price range of $20.00 - $40.00. The H.S. Strut Raspy Old Hen Slate Pan Friction Call at about $19.99 is a real all-around beginner's turkey pot call. This call incorporates a forgiving carbon striker that will have you making realistic hen talk in no time. Special offer even includes a free diaphragm call to practice for your move to hands-free calling.
2. Something to Sit On to Sit Absolutely Still
How could something to sit on be so important to rank just below calls in this buying guide? Actually, it could be Number One!
More important than calling, more important than camouflage, is the ability to sit absolutely still. Turkeys have extremely sharp eyes for detecting motion, and they have ZERO curiosity. If they detect something out of place … they are gone.
You can’t sit still if you’re not comfortable. That’s why a lot of specialty turkey hunting vests have built-in seat cushions like the RedHead Bucklick Creek Turkey Lounger Vest - about $99.99 which has a self-supporting lounger seat system and many other cool features. But even more comfortable is a seat that suspends your behind above the forest floor like the RedHead Gobbler Seat. This portable seat features strong aluminum legs that fold out to keep your posterior comfortable suspended above the cold, damp, uneven ground. You can tote it in the big pocket on your turkey vest or with the included shoulder strap. Designed for comfort on any slope or any terrain. Retail price for the gobbler seat is about $19.99 at Bass Pro Shops. This will be the best $20.00 you ever spend.
3. Hide Your Face and Hands From Turkeys
If you sit still enough, you could almost get away not wearing camouflage. However, the most important features to hide are the bright spots and the extremities that may have to move to take a shot. That means your face and hands.
Camo face masks are super-inexpensive insurance that the shine off your face won’t spook an incoming turkey. Remember, just because you can’t see him yet, doesn’t mean he can’t see you. The best advice is to buy several and keep one in your vest and extras in your truck and at camp. Somebody will always forget their face mask.
A good camo face mask choice is the RedHead Wire Frame Full Camo Face Mask - about $8.99 which features an adjustable wire frame around the opening for the eyes. This is more comfortable and ensures full peripheral vision which is really important when that gobbler’s coming in from behind and flanking you!
Watch video: Hide Your Face From Wary Gobblers
If anything has to move for you to take a shot at a turkey, it will be your hands, especially if you’re using a friction call. Camo gloves will help hide that movement, at least long enough for you to get the shot. In most turkey hunting scenarios, you won’t need gloves to keep you warm, so look for fabric that’s thin, even mesh. Thin gloves like the RedHead Camoskinz Liner Gloves - about $14.99 will provide the feel you need to work a friction call. Not only will these form fitting camo gloves provide the stealth you need to work your call and take your shot, they also shed light surface moisture like dewey woods and a silicone-printed palm enhances grip for your hands. Touchscreen-compatible index fingertips and thumbs
4. The Ultimate Turkey Hunting Camouflage
If you already own camouflage clothing, chances are it will work fine to get you started in turkey hunting. If you sit still enough and hide your face and hands, you can even get away with just earth tone colors.
However, if you need some camouflage clothing anyway, consider getting a ghillie suit like the Hot Shot 3-D Ghille Suit - about $99.99. It’s the ultimate in camouflage. What’s a ghillie suit? It’s a camouflage top and bottom set you pull on over your regular clothing that incorporates not only camouflage patterns, but 3-D leaf and grass-like elements to offer maximum concealment. Ghillie suits originated with military snipers who make their own as part of their training.
When you compare ghillie suits to a set of quality hunting camouflage coveralls, you’ll see that the ghillie suit costs about the same or perhaps even a bit less. But in the field, 2-D camo just cannot stack up against the ghillie suit’s 3-D effectiveness similar the Hot Shot 3-D Ghillie which is meant to fit over your regular clothing. Built on a cool mesh camo lining that’s perfect in all weather conditions. The top features a drawstring hood and built in face mask. Pants feature elastic and drawstring waist.
5. Hen Turkey Decoy Advantages
Many, many turkeys have been taken over the years without the aid of a decoy, and you can certainly do it, too. However, the advantage of a decoy is that it draws the tom’s attention away from the hunter. If you make a move at the wrong time or excitement makes you call a bit too loudly, the decoy just might let you get by with the mistake because the gobbler’s looking at it, not you.
Turkey decoys have gotten very complicated and very expensive. You can find hens, jakes, and gobblers and pairs in about any position you can imagine. Realism is off the charts! However, to start out, we recommend just getting one mid-priced hen decoy like the Avian-X LCD Breeder Hen Turkey Decoy - about $79.99 and learning how to deploy it and work with it properly.
The Avian Breeder Hen Turkey Decoy is in a receptive pose that should really attract and hold a gobbler’s attention. Completely collapsible for easy transport. Comes with a carry bag and a folding motion stake to create lifelike movement even in the lightest breeze.
It’s important to note that when moving in your hunting area, you should conceal the decoy completely in the carry bag.
6. Pick the Right Shotshells & Turkey Target
A responsible hunter doesn’t just grab shells from last season’s upland bird hunts to go turkey hunting. You owe it to the magnificent birds to hunt with shells that maximize the opportunity for a clean, one-shot, on the spot kill. That means heading to the range and patterning a variety of loads to see which shoots best from your shotgun and choke combination.
Individual shotguns and chokes will work best with different loads, so there’s no shortcut to making a decision. You need to do the testing and make the choice for yourself. Turkey loads can be pricey – really pricey – but once you’ve determined which works best, you won’t have to shoot that many – probably just one for each turkey you harvest!
A good turkey shotshell to consider is the Federal 3rd Degree Turkey Shotshells - 12 Gauge - 3" - about $17.99 for 5 rounds. These shells are specially designed to work well at all ranges. They may be the right choice for your shotgun, but you won’t know what’s best until you test the patterns from at least a few different loads.
Load testing is best done on life-sized paper targets of a turkey’s kill zone which is the head and neck such as the RangeMaxx Turkey Target - about $14.99. This is the only way to really tell how many killing hits your shot pattern delivers.
With the RangeMaxx Turkey Target, each target in this 10-pack features a peel-and-stick adhesive back to easily attach to a cardboard or plywood patterning board. The surface around the pellet holes flakes off to be seen and counted easily. Kill shot hits show florescent green behind turkey image.