Dampen wintertime doldrums by prepping your vest for spring turkey hunting season. While many people’s yards are buried in snow, others are looking at uber warm temps. Then there are those who are simply dreaming of a strutting, drumming tom.
If you’re among those who either pursue turkeys in the springtime or who would like to, then you’d better get your gear ready. While a turkey hunting vest isn’t mandatory, it’s highly recommended.
Also See: 6 Things That Can Spoil Your Turkey Hunt
What makes a good turkey vest?
For starters, a vest that fits is grand. There are many makes and models of hunting vests. Since you're not me, you need to go try some on and see how they fit. I like one with adjustable shoulder straps, to reduce the length. This keeps the vest from hitting my legs as I walk, which also reduces the amount of noise I make in the field during a spot and stalk hunt.
Speaking of noise, some vests have velcro closures for their pockets. If you’re going to be serious about turkey hunting, opt for folding, magnetic or snap closures. Pockets are important because you need to stow a multitude of gear.
What to put in your turkey hunting vest
Calls, strikers and gobblers, OH MY! When it comes to turkey calls, you’re going to see a variety. There are pot calls, mouth reeds, box calls, wingbone calls and more. Each call serves a hunter well on different occasions. Not only that, some hunters are better at a slate than a mouth reed, and others find the tone of a cluck from a box call to be precise. Whichever becomes your forte, assign a pocket in your vest, so you always have it at hand. The last thing you want to do as a strutter is coming in is start fumbling through pockets to find the proper striker for your pot.
Call maintenance is a must. Regardless of which call you choose, most have required care for keep them tuned for enticing bearded birds. Find, and select a pocket in your vest for, chalk, sandpaper, conditioning stones and scratch pads.
Decoys to fool the wary will entice gobblers within shooting range. Collapsible ones fit nicely in the rear pocket of the best turkey hunting vests. Don’t forget the stakes, strings and other items necessary for setting up a lifelike scenario.
Camo netting comes in handy for spot and stalk hunts. It can be stowed back there with those feathered imposters. You can drape it atop bushes for a quick makeshift blind.
Gloves, masks and face paint aid in concealment from keen-eyed rumbling drummers. Keep them in your vest, so you don’t find yourself in the field saying, “Dang it. My mask is in the truck!” as a Tom spies your pale mug staring at him.
Shotgun shells are imperative for shooting a big bearded bird with your A400 Xtreme 12-gauge shotgun. When you stow them in your vest, remember to keep them separate from any other shells. You may have packed 20 gauge for your mentee, and that would cause trouble if it wound up in the wrong gun.
Other items that come in handy on a hunt are those that I try never to forget. First and foremost on the list is water and snacks. Whether I’m co-hunting or alone, cottonmouth or a rumbly belly are big distractions.
Rain gear is essential when hunting those areas where Mother Nature tends to have hot and cold flashes, followed by droplets of water spewing from the sky. It's also useful in layering up on chilly mornings to keep dew from soaking your legs socks and boots. Hand warmers can be added to a vest pouch. They’re good to have available in the event of a cold snap.
After being indoors all winter, our skin isn’t accustomed to blazing UV rays; Remember your sunscreen and lip balm. Allergy meds are necessary when those springtime blooms cause noses to run, or maybe sprint. There’s nothing worse than a snotty face mask, which leads me to the last, but of course not least important item, mountain money (aka tissue paper). Put it in a secret pouch in the best turkey hunting vest ever because you never know when you’ll need it.
Of course, there are other items I always take on a turkey hunt. However, I wear them on my person, so I’m not listing these in the vest. You may want to add binoculars, rangefinder, knives, multi-tools and your hunting license.
Get that vest geared up, fitted and ready to go! It’s almost time to chase those thunder chickens, gobblers, rumbling drummers, or whatever name you choose to label those bearded turkeys. Good luck. Be safe. Have fun.