Brenda Valentine’s Outdoor Legends Tour: Day 5

Everyone at Camp Manas was packing and dragging firepower, except us hunters. We felt pretty under-dressed for the occasion.

Welcome to Camp Manas near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan!

Thousands of troops pass through here each month. We arrived a little before dawn. After a short briefing, we settled into our bunks. Since I had only the clothes I was wearing, there wasn’t much unpacking to do.

Thank goodness my toothbrush, passport, American flags and cell phone were in my backpack. I figured I could simply borrow Jim Shockey’s hairdryer and Bill Miller’s lip-gloss.

Soon we were issued protective gear. The vest had thick bulletproof plates surrounding our vitals and felt as if they weighed a ton. No kidding. The vest alone was like wearing two concrete blocks over my shoulders (and I am a very strong woman). I can’t imagine how some of the small-frame girls handle this piece of gear all day in the triple-digit heat. My helmet is certainly off to them.

Now I feel a bit overdressed…

That evening we had a formal meet and greet with the troops at Pete’s Place, the main gathering point at camp. We met servicemen from everywhere, but a group of former Florida cowboys from the Red Horse Unit and some guys from Guam hung with us till quitting time.  I met a couple of young female enlistees from the St. Louis area who wanted to get into turkey hunting.

The common thread we shared was a love of country and hunting.

— Brenda

 

The stuff of turkey hunting success

My first turkey hunt of the 2012 spring season is what’s known in the industry as a “media hunt.” It’s kind of poor grammar and slightly misleading, since it’s not as if a bunch of writers are let loose in the woods all Hunger Games-like, with the last one standing is the victor.

In reality, hunting product representatives take a group of us media types on hunt and let us use their stuff in the field in hopes we write about it in magazines, blogs, on websites and such. And, darn it, the formula works, because I’m about to tell you what gear helped me kill a turkey in Oklahoma.

Knight & Hale
www.knightandhale.com
If you’ve read at lest a handful of my posts, you know I’m a music buff. And that’s why it was love at first sight with this year’s line of Knight & Hale turkey calls. With names like Witchy Woman (The Eagles!), Bad Medicine (Bon Jovi!) and Metal Yell (sort of like Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”) I knew these calls had to rock.

Since I haven’t yet mastered the mouth call, the mint-flavored Bad Medicine series serves as not much more than a breath freshener for me. But the other two made their way to my turkey vest. I found the push-pull Witchy Woman easy to use and great for soft calling, but not much of a match for Oklahoma’s gusty afternoons. The Metal Yell, however, with its aluminum face, screamed out yelps and clucks that had the turkeys crying more…more…more…

Knight & Hale’s Witchy Woman and Metal Yell are music to a wild turkey’s ear holes.

Under Armour
www.underarmour.com/hunting
This one’s for all you women who can’t find camo that fits and is functional. I say dress like a dude (or at least give the men’s line from Under Armour a try). I was decked out in head to ankle UA — Evolution Heatgear Longsleeve T-shirt, Utility Field Pants and Hurlock Fleece Pullover — and the best compliment I could give it is that once I put it on I never thought about it again. I wore men’s smalls and didn’t even have to have the pants altered for length. For reference, I’m just shy of 5’2” and got a booty (if you know what I mean), and the fit was spot on, even with a base layer underneath. And I stayed out of sight in Realtree AP (www.realtree.com) — a great mix of browns and greens, perfect for a wet Oklahoma spring.

If the fit of the men’s line doesn’t suit your curves, Under Armour Senior Product Line Manager Mark Estrada says they are launching a women’s line of turkey hunting wear in 2013.

Remington
www.remington.com
Remington’s Versa Max was the gun of the week. Its claim to fame is that with its Versaport system it’s as close to a self-cleaning shotgun as you can get. Well, the beauty of a media hunt is that you shoot it for a week, then hand it back for someone else to deal with. The Versa Max’s shortest length of pull is 14.25 inches, about 2 inches too long for my Tyrannosaurs Rex arms, but it got the job done. Paired with Remington’s 3-inch Nitro Turkey load, it blasted the silhouette target on the range at 20 yards and took down an Oklahoma longbeard at just under 40.

Trijicon
www.trijicon.com
I’m all about stuff that makes me as accurate as possible. I feel I owe that to my quarry. Trijicon’s RMR series of sights goes beyond accuracy and could even be considered dummy proof. Simply aim the red dot at where you want to hit and pull the trigger. A lithium battery keeps it lit for 17,000 hours, so there’s no forgetting to turn it on or off. It’s the point-and-shoot of gun sites!

ATSKO
www.atsko.com
One product I didn’t use but wish I had: WATER-GUARD by ATSKO. It drizzled the last day of the hunt, and I ended my morning hunt with waterlogged boots. Have you ever replaced your boot inserts with soggy pancakes? Me neither, but I think I knew what it would feel like that day. Had I not been lazy and treated my boots before I left, my feel would’ve been dry, warm and not spit water as I walked. FYI, three days after the hunt, they’re still drying out in my garage, cursing my name.

So gear up and get out there, my hunting people! Here’s to the folks that make us look good, sound good, as well as stay warm and accurate while chasing turkeys. Cheers!