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!

An outdoorsy playlist

I’ve heard hunting is the great equalizer.

It doesn’t matter how fast you are, how much you can bench press or even your gender; with the right equipment and mental fortitude you can successfully take game. Hunting brings people together.

And so does music.

I love talking music in hunt camp. You learn so much about folks while discussing first concerts, chance meetings with musicians and favorite albums.

Which ones were hippies in a past life? Who will openly admit they don’t like the Beatles? (For shame…) Who might still be suppressing a little bit of teen angst?

I knew the group of outdoor media and hunting manufacturers at this week’s camp at Croton Creek Ranch in Cheyenne, Okla., was up for a little Karen music questionnaire. As soon as I plopped my rear in the rental car at the airport in Oklahoma City, Realtree’s Dodd Clifton and I toggled between 70s and 80s rock during our two-hour drive to the ranch.

And the first night in camp, Gary Sefton, one of the hunt hosts, gave us a mini concert of original songs he’s written about hunting dogs, armadillos and catfishing outlaws.

Gary Sefton’s smooth singing on a Knight & Hale pot call brought in my first Oklahoma Rio.

So after dinner one evening, I forced several of the guys to give me their quintessential outdoors song — one that gets them in the mood to hunt or fish, a tune that brings back a favorite outdoor memory.

It’s only fair to volunteer your answer first when asking such a personal question. The one song that gets me pumped to put a hurtin’ on a turkey: The Warrior by Scandal featuring Patty Smyth.

Oh yeah, I’m shooting down the walls of heartache when I pull the trigger of my shotgun.

Check out the turkey I killed at Croton Creek Ranch in Cheyenne, OK. Bang! Bang! I am a warrior!

Here’s what some of the other guys listen to:

Dave Maas, managing editor of North American Hunter, claims “Fishin’ in the Dark” by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It’s not only his all-time favorite song; it actually makes him want to fish. Want to know a little secret about Dave? He likes fishing more than hunting. (Let’s just keep that between us, OK?)

Steve Hickoff, Realtree.com Turkey Hunting Editor, loves some Travis Tritt, especially the song, “It’s Great Day to Be Alive.” It gives him the same vibe as hunting does, makes him feel good, upbeat, content.

Brian Lovett, editor of Turkey & Turkey Hunting, is a bit more hardcore. He has a fond memory of “No Breaks” by The Offspring. He remembers playing it early one morning as he drove three hours to hunt with a friend. It represents how he can’t “put the breaks” on his turkey addiction. Brian actually wrote a magazine story about it.

Back to my boy, Dodd Clifton, public relations director for Realtree: He threw down the Grand Funk Railroad’s “I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home” as his top feel good song. He says it puts him in his place, centers him. When he hears it, he feels like fishing. Good pick, matey!

PRADCO Public Relations Manager Mike Mattly identifies with “A Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams Jr. That song needs no further explanation.

Mike Lambeth, freelance outdoor communicator, rocks out to “Radar Love” by Golden Earring when he’s driving to a hunting spot. It gets him pumped (and also takes him back to the groovy ‘70s. Righteous!

What song would you pick? Send a comment back to me, and let’s build the ultimate outdoorsy playlist. Then we can groove, head bang and line dance our way through spring.