Keeping hunting gear clean and in good working condition is critical for the extended life of said gear. For the final suggestions on this two-part series, I reached out to a Vista Outdoor representative, a freelance turkey-hunting writer and combed through hunter tips to find out how to clean and store the final pieces of my hunting gear.
For as many camo items as you can find at the local store, there are that many (maybe more) ways hunters clean and store their camo during the offseason. Depending on the game they hunt, hunters use various methods of keeping their camo clean and, in some cases, human- and synthetic-scent free. This is less important for your turkey camo, but if your camo serves double duty during early bow season for whitetails or other nose-led species, it is critical.
Washing camo in scent-free, non-UV brightening detergent and allowing it to air dry outside seems to be the most popular way to get camo clean and keep it scent free. Storing it with elements from the outdoors, such as a pine branch or oak leaves, also is popular.
For scent mitigation, take advantage of the various detergents and storage bags/containers on the market specifically designed for hunters looking to keep scents out of their gear.
“I am a big believer in scent control so my clothes are only washed in scent free/preventative soaps that have no UV enhancers and stored in scent free bags or totes,” said Mossy Oak Pro-Staffer and Big Game Regional Manager D. J. Randolph.
Randolph also said to keep a keen eye out for moisture.
“Sealing moist clothing in scent free containers can cause a musty odor and sometimes mold growth,” he said.
For turkey hunters, giving your camo a thorough washing in a non-UV brightening detergent and storing it in a dry place with other turkey hunting gear is usually all that is required. Washing it inside out in cold water will help prevent fading.
Most decoys come with a storage bag, and as long as they are kept dry, usually store well in a cool, dry place. Shane Simpson, NWTF freelance contributor and host of “Calling All Turkeys” Web series said, “I use AvianX decoys and inflate them and hang them on hooks in my basement, always placing the decoy tail first in the carry bag so as not to bend the head/neck during storage.”
One of the most important pieces of gear, our turkey guns, certainly deserve some after-season love, as well. For the best advice on keeping these guns in tip-top shape, I reached out to JJ Reich, Communications Manager for Firearms and Ammunition with Vista Outdoor, parent company of Savage Arms, Stevens Arms, Hoppes, Primos, Camp Chef and Federal Premium, among many others.
“The only golden rule to storing guns … safety,” Reich said.
Most modern turkey guns feature synthetic or polymer stocks and are easy to store, he said. Some general guidelines include:
- Make sure the gun is clean. Moisture, dirt or grime can be damaging to your guns.
- Properly oil your guns before storing and periodically during storage. Use a good-quality CLP (clean, lube, protect) product, such as those from Hoppes, Outers or Gunslick.
- In general, do not store guns in heavily padded gun cases or foam hard cases. These cases could hold moisture, which can cause rust. It is better to let the guns breathe in a safe.
- Consider using lightweight, breathable gun socks designed for long-term storage to add another layer of protection. These will prevent scratching the camo or finish of your guns.
After cleaning, Reich recommended storing your wooden-stock guns upside-down, with the barrels down on a padded surface, to keep excess oil from seeping into the wood via gravity and weakening it.
Reich said it was not necessary to remove the choke before storage, “But do keep chokes clean and double-check to ensure you keep a small amount of choke tube grease on threads so it does not get stuck in the gun,” he said.
Turkey vest storage may not seem like it should be complicated, but they are an investment and there are a few tips to keep it in turkey ready shape during the off-season.
First order of business for me was to make sure all my hunting snacks were removed. Sitting still for long periods in the turkey woods calls for having snacks on hand, but I think one season is enough, and I do not want encourage any critters.
For the best storage and cleaning techniques, we talked to Colby Smith with ALPS Brands.
Smith said, “If the vest needs to be washed because of blood, mud, etc. we suggest a mild soap like Dawn and warm water.” Hang the vest to dry.
Once clean and dry, Smith says either hanging your vest or laying it flat are the best options for storage. “I personally hang my vest so I will not have to worry about a damp basement floor.
Smith’s note about a damp basement floor is a good tip not only for our vests but for all our hunting gear; keep it clean and dry to prolong its life.
Cleaning items from Hoppe’s to keep guns cleaned and ready for next season
JJ Reich and his team at Vista Outdoor suggest several Hoppe’s items to clean and keep our turkey guns in top condition:
The new Hoppe’s Black is an excellent product and works on any firearm.
The Hoppe’s 1.2.3. Done! Kit is a fantastic all-in-one cleaning kit. It offers cleaner, lube and BoreSnakes of varying size. Perfect for a quick clean anywhere
Hoppe’s Lead-B-Gone Skin Cleansing Wipes. After a day of shooting, these are helpful when you can’t wash your hands.