Gearing Up for Spring Turkey Season

Turkey hunting isn’t as complicated as it may appear. To a newcomer, you may feel overwhelmed, but it really comes down to concealment, calling and shot placement. Having the right equipment can also make or break a turkey season.

Camouflage clothing is important when turkey hunting. These birds have excellent eyesight and see in color. They’re also very keen at detecting motion. Being covered from head to toe in a camouflage pattern that blends into your surroundings helps you remain undetected. This includes wearing a facemask and gloves.

Spring weather is unpredictable, so be sure to have a collection of clothes adequate for a wide range of temperatures and conditions. Rain is common in March, so a rain jacket or poncho is a wise investment. The grass is usually wet with dew in the morning and the smallest of creeks can quickly fill with rushing water, so knee-high rubber boots are also the way to go.

You can carry a backpack or fanny pack, but the most convenient way of storing, organizing and accessing your turkey hunting equipment in the field is with a turkey hunting vest. There are many available, from the basic with a few pockets to technologically advanced systems with built-in hydration packs or back support poles. The right vest for you should have enough pockets to keep all your gear secure without being too bulky when moving through the woods.

With so many different calls on the market, choosing one style over another can be overwhelming to a beginner. Mouth calls, slate calls, box calls, push-button calls, wing bone calls and locator calls all have their place in the grand scheme of turkey calling. But when you’re first learning, box calls and push-button calls are the easiest to use.

Practice is important before hitting the woods too. Even with the simplest call in hand, you still need to produce a realistic sound. Many training DVDs and CDs are available, or you can search calling tips online. Nothing compares to learning from the real thing. Spend time in the woods just listening for turkeys. Eventually, you’ll hear clucks, putts, cackles, cutts, purrs, yelps, kee-kees, gobbles, etc. Don’t worry about knowing the difference in the beginning. Work on producing clucks and yelps. These two calls have led to the demise of more gobblers than all the rest combined.

Shotgun and ammo
You can kill a turkey with just about any shotgun made, but 12- and 20-gauge pumps are most common. Single shots, double-barrels and semi-automatics will also do the job. What is most important is being accurate with the gun you carry.

A special turkey choke helps significantly and tightens your load of pellets for an extended range, meaning more pellets hit the target downrange. When shooting a turkey, aim for its head. A tighter group allows you to shoot turkeys farther away too. A 40-yard shot is a long one; I caution you not to try shots any longer than that.

There are many different specialized turkey loads on the market in different load sizes and shell lengths. A longer shell usually holds more powder and pellets than the shorter ones. Shot sizes of 4, 5 and 6 are all adequate and commonly used.

There are many more pieces of equipment you can carry with you to the turkey woods that will help you find success, but these basics are important for the beginner. A good pair of binoculars, insect repellent and a good cushion to sit on too are a few more items I never leave behind.