Are Turkey Hunts Actually all about the Gear?

Longtime friend and neighbor Darrin Scott is quite the outdoorsman, with 13 turkey-feather mounts on his pole barn walls with another waiting to be finished at the taxidermist along with his dad’s 2016 harvest. In addition, Scott has been successful with 20 bucks harvested with a bow and arrow and an additional 10 taken by shotgun.

I’ve hunted turkeys on our property a few times, but have not encountered success. This year, Scott told me he’d call one in for me. That’s when my turkey lessons would start, as I was still a beginner with much to learn.

Morning came early as I joined Scott in his pole barn. The appropriate gear for the hunt included camo clothing, lightweight Renegade GTX Gore-Tex LOWA boots and a coffee drink vessel, JavaPress, from GSI Outdoors. I took my Remington 12-gauge shotgun and turkey shells I won at the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) Conference years ago.

“That gun won’t work for turkeys, Bob,” Scott said. “You need a turkey gun that shoots a small pattern the size of a pie plate at 50 yards—you can use my 12-gauge Browning.”

Scott uses 3-inch magnum Remington 12-gauge shells; the shot size is 4 by 6. We would hunt on the grounds at the edge of a small woodlot and had a single turkey decoy strategically placed that moved with the wind. A box turkey call was used as the birds began calling in the distance from the trees. Scott allows the turkeys to call for about 20 minutes before he starts calling to them.

“They begin calling from the trees before they fly to the ground,” Scott informed me. “Back in 1996 or 1997, the Michigan DNR began placing turkeys in mid-Michigan. I began seeing turkeys and they grew in numbers each year.”

At the AGLOW Annual Conference a few years ago, a shooting competition was held where the best shot would win a turkey gun. I looked at the competing outdoorsmen and decided my chances of winning the shotgun were slim to none. However, a box of turkey shells and targets would be awarded for last place. Of course, I won the box of shells and targets.

Field-test hunting

For years I’ve owned a variety of hunting boots, however, they became heavy as the years accumulated. This year I was asked to field-test a pair of lightweight European Renegade GTX Gore-Tex LOWA Boots. I agreed, providing I could make an honest assessment of the product. The press materials informed me the company has been in business for 90 years and that the boots have been acclaimed as “the finest outdoor boots in the world” by climbers, mountaineers, certified testers, etc.

These lightweight boots were much lighter than previous hunting boots I’ve owned; I noticed the comfort and perfect fit. They “drive” like a Cadillac and I feel like I’m walking on a cloud. I was sold on the Renegade GTX LOWA.

Scott continued to share his experiences over the years hunting turkeys while we waited for the 20-minute timeline to pass. It was time to enjoy that coffee. I guessed that most containers are similar, although as the morning passes, hot coffee cools and doesn’t always take that morning chill away. I was ready to try the vessel holding my coffee, and the accompanying press information was composed in such a manner that I was curious if the claims would hold up:

“It all started a very long time ago with some crazy, French-Canadian trappers and a considerable amount of homemade alcohol. To make a long story short, in the morning there were a few glowing embers left over from the campfire and a coffee- soaked patch of ground. That pioneering spirit led to the formation in 1985 of GSI Outdoors. …”

Not only was the JavaPress stainless steel coffee container sent, but also a French coffee press. I had to remind myself that I was in fact on a turkey hunt.

Or was it all about the gear?

The calls to the turkey began and they responded. But these birds were not enticed enough to come out of the woodlot, however, the mosquitoes were. (A friend informed me following the hunt that if Vicks Vapor Rub is put behind the ears and on the ankles, that will keep the mosquitoes away—another product to field-test.)

The hunt eventually came to a close. And as for my turkeys, valuable strategies were learned. But I wasn’t sure if it was all about the gear or the hunt that made the experience enjoyable. I suppose I should put a 12-gauge, camo turkey gun on my Christmas wish list.