Preparing for the Turkey Woods
Here are a few must-haves for trailing toms:
Find a pattern that matches the terrain or time of season you'll be hunting -- browns and grays for early season, greens for late spring. Required accessories:
a hat to keep the sun out of your eyes and cover light-colored hair
a face mask, preferable a mesh 3/4 mask that can be pulled down around your neck
lightweight gloves and green or camo socks to keep your lower legs or long underwear concealed when you sit.
Today's typical turkey gun is a semiauto or pump, usually a 12-gauge, camo-coated and short barreled with an extra-full screw-in choke tube and fiber optic sights. Semi-autos offer less kick, while pumps are less likely to hang up. Though it may limit your maximum range, a 20-gauge is effective up to 30 yards, and offers less recoil and is lighter to tote. Pack the chamber with magnum turkey loads in No. 4, 5 or 6 shot.
A turkey vest is a must-have item for many hunters. Key features include:
multiple pockets tailored to hold every type of call and other items needed in the woods
a large game pouch for toting decoys of your turkey at the end of the hunt
a fold-out seat for dry, comfortable sitting
A box call and slate call are effective and easy to use. A box call offers bigger volume on windy days. A slate call is great for cutting and purring. Slate calls don't work well in the rain, though, unless they are made of a water-resistant material. Other call choices include mouth calls, tube calls, push-pins, scratch boxes and peg boxes.
Not all calls are for talking turkey. Some are merely used to pull a shock gobble from a tom. In the early morning or late evening, go for an owl hooter or coyote howler. Later in the day, use a crow call. Goose and peacock calls are useful, too. It's also well known that turkeys will gobble at the sound of a train whistle, thunder or even the slamming of a car door.
You'll want boots that are waterproof, camoflauged, lightly insulated and that offer substantial ankle support. The taller snakeboots protect against not only snakes but also briars and sticks. Lower cut, lighter boots provide the comfort of running shoes without sacrificing water repellency or ankle support.
To add to your comfort and success, include these other items among your turkey gear:
Lo-Boy Lite Seat — This short, sturdy stool keeps you off the ground and is as comfortable as lounging at a cookout.
Ratchet Cutters — Use these to quickly and quietly cut small limbs and clear shooting lanes around your setup.
Rain Gear — A lightweight, packable rain suit can be put on quickly for total protection if you're caught in a sudden downpour.
Compact Binoculars — These are great for scanning fields, distant wood edges and even the woods around you before you make a move.
Gun Rest — The small V-shaped cushion that straps to your leg is ideal when you're waiting on a slow-to-approach gobbler.
Decoys — Collapsible or inflatable are the most commonly used. Lightweight, easy to pack and quick to set up, decoys add a dose of realism to your setup. For optimal results, mix a jake with a pair of hens. Be sure to check state laws concerning decoy use.
Blind — A short, fence-style, fold-out camo blind is ideal. It can be set up quickly and provides about 2 feet of added concealment, which makes it easy to work calls or shift your legs.