You Will Never Forget Your First Turkey
The first animal I ever harvested while hunting was a turkey. I remember it like it was yesterday. May 1st, 2001. I decided to pack up early after an evening hunt and when I started unloading my gun, I heard leaves rustling. A group of birds had snuck in behind me and as they started to spook, one Jake ran across the small food plot I was sitting in. I had one shell left in my gun, and I made it count!
Turkey hunting is a one of THE best ways to get started in hunting. It’s interactive, the weather is usually pleasant and access to land (both public and private) is often plentiful. If you’re hitting the turkey woods for the first time this season, here’s some affordable gear to make your hunt an absolute blast!
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links I may receive compensation, however all opinions are my own.*
When it comes to turkey hunting gear, camo is first on the list. Turkeys have some of the best eyes in the woods. If you’re not covered head-to-toe in camo, you’re in trouble. Unlike deer, however, turkeys don’t rely on their nose to detect predators. Great! You don’t need scent free camo to hunt turkeys…you just need camo.
One cheap option: Camo pants and a camo long sleeve shirt from Walmart. Pick something comfy and buy a size or two bigger than what you’d normally wear (in case you need to add a few layers underneath).
My personal favorite for turkey hunting is 3D leafy camo. It’s cheap, it’s easy to layer underneath and it does a great job of breaking up your outline in areas where a good backdrop is lacking:
Check out how well my buddy Chris blends in to the base of this tree with 3D leafy camo.
A camo face mask is also a must-have.
There are a million different turkey calls. They all work, some better than others. And depending on who you talk to, you’ll get a million different answers. Personally, the two calls that are always in my gear pack are a crow call and a slate friction call.
Crow calls are great locator calls post-sunrise. Turkeys often “shock gobble” or simply react to the sound of a crow, giving up their location for you to start your pursuit. The best part about crow calls is they are super easy…just blow in ’em and you’ll sound like a crow.
I like to think I’m a good turkey HUNTER, but I know I’m not a great turkey CALLER. I’ve killed a lot of turkeys and almost all of them have fallen to a slate friction call. In my opinion, slate calls are the most versatile, easiest-to-play calls on the market. Get one slate call with a couple of different strikers and you’re in business.
I’ve bought and played with a lot of different friction calls, and my good friend Tom at Tom’s Custom Turkey Calls makes the easiest-to-play calls I’ve ever used. Again, I’m not a great turkey caller, but when I play calls made by Tom I feel like I’m WAY better than I really am. They are awesome, plain and simple. If you have some extra money and want to get a beautiful, hand-made slate call these are without a doubt the way to go.
Right at $40
If a custom call isn’t quite in the budget this season, no worries. This slate call from Primos is a great call for the money (I’ve personally used this call to kill A LOT of birds).
Primos Ol’ Betsy Slate Call
Decoys aren’t a “must-have” but man they sure help. Giving a weary ol’ Tom something visual to associate your calls with can be (and often is) the difference between a filled tag and another close encounter. I typically use 2 Hen decoys and 1 Jake decoy, but a Jake/Hen pair is a great starter set. The Hen decoys will associate the gobbler with the calls you’re making and the Jake decoy will add a “competition” factor to the mix. Decoys will also help draw a turkey’s attention away from you (the hunter) as he starts coming into shooting range.
Right at $50
If you can only afford or carry one decoy, carry a Hen. You’re making Hen sounds when you call, it only makes sense to visually simulate the sounds you’re making.
Aside from the obvious (camo, calls, decoys, etc) there are a few pieces of gear that are essential to a comfortable, enjoyable hunt.
A turkey hunting vest is so, SO nice. Most have a bunch of pockets for calls, ammo, snacks or whatever it is you need for a day in the woods. And, many come with a built in seat cushion which is a must for long sits.
$40 and up
If a vest is too expensive, a cushion and/or fanny pack (don’t worry, fanny packs are cool in the woods) is a perfect substitute.
Right at $11
Hot Seat Heat-a-seat™
Finally, the worst part about spring turkey hunting is bugs. We all hate bugs and nothing can ruin a hunt faster than the season’s first group of mosquitoes. The best money you can spend on bug repellent for ANY SEASON is buying a Thermacell (this is a hunt saver, trust me).
Right at $20
Thermacell MR-LJ Portable Mosquito Repeller, Black
Get After ‘Em
Turkey hunting is so freakin’ fun. When you hear a turkey gobble for the first time I promise you’ll be hooked. Once you buy (or borrow) a decent shotgun, find a place to hunt and pick up some of the gear in this post YOU will be ready for a fun, memorable and hopefully successful spring in the turkey woods! Good luck and GET AFTER ‘EM!