What's in Your Vest?

During the off season turkey hunters can keep themselves busy by reading up on the subject, participating in NWTF events and talking constant turkey to friends and family.

I enjoy rummaging through my hunting vest to make sure all the stuff I need is intact and in place. I empty the pockets, clean out the seams and the hideaway seat pad. Then I reload the vest with everything I think I will need, depending on when and where I expect to hunt. As the season progresses, I adjust to circumstances by adding or subtracting items to fit a particular situation.

Based on my experience, here are some things you might want to have in your vest when you’re heading for the turkey woods.

1. A variety of calls
Sometimes gobblers respond more readily to one call-produced sound than another. It may be helpful to carry several diaphragm calls, a box call and a pot and peg call with two or three strikers to vary pitch. Also consider carrying a few locator calls including a raspy crow call, a coyote howler and an owl hooter. Lastly, add a gobble call to your stash to use sparingly as a locator or to challenge a standoffish tom to a face-off when a hen call doesn’t work.

2. Extra shells

3. Gloves

4. Facemask

5. After-the-kill essentials
Some hunters like to measure beards and spurts and weigh turkeys on the spot. In that case, it’s necessary to tote a short measuring tape, a small scale and a small folding knife in an inside vest pocket for later on.

6. Caller helpers
A call conditioning kit consisting of sandpaper, scouring pad, chalk and rubber bands may come in handy for a number of things such as restraining a box call paddle so it won’t make noise at an inopportune moment.

7. O-dark-thirty aids
Pack a LED headlamp and a small LED squeeze light to save yourself from stumbling in the dark.

8. Extra coverage
Carry an extra layer of camo clothing in your back pouch. If the weatherman predicts rain, a suit of lightweight camo rain gear may be necessary. Sometimes packing a decoy or two in the back pouch (fold up or inflatable) and an ultra-light, sit behind rollout blind is worthwhile.

9. A bottle of water

10. A snack

11. Toilet tissue (don’t leave home without it)

12. Insect repellant (this either)

13. A few Band-Aids

Make a list of things you want in your vest and check items off as you put them in it. Put the same stuff in the same pocket every time, and you'll know exactly where to reach for something when you need it. 

Not all turkey hunters wear a vest, but wearing one may help you become a more organized and efficient hunter. 

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