10 Products You Need To Bag Your Spring Gobbler
While chasing spring gobblers is one of the most exciting kinds of hunting around, it is also a very gear-intensive sport.
There are few things more exciting in the hunting world than making a couple of yelps on your favorite box call and hearing a thunderous gobble erupt in the woods right behind you. Springtime is turkey hunting time in many states, and chasing wily gobblers is an addiction for many hunters. Since spring turkey season is a largely a game of sitting down on the ground and calling birds to your location, there are a lot of different types of gear and gadgets needed to get the job done. Here are 10 products that can help you have more turkey hunting success this spring.
While the white-tailed deer is famous for its incredible sense of smell, the wild turkey’s claim to fame is its outstanding eyesight. It is that eyesight that can make bagging a wary tom one of the hardest things to do. That’s where a complete set of camouflage clothing comes into play. Camouflage is the most effective thing for breaking up your human outline when you set up to start calling. Since there are many different styles and patterns available, look for one that matches the foliage in the area you will be hunting. And be sure you are camouflaged right down to your socks and boots. There’s no telling how many gobblers have been spooked off over the years by white socks peeking out of the bottom of camo pants.
If you’re new to turkey hunting, you likely can’t imagine how wary an adult gobbler truly is. When he’s coming to a call, he is constantly looking for the hen that is making that call. Since that hen he is looking for is you, he’s likely to be looking right at you while approaching. The thing he’s most likely to see is your face, shining in the sun like a warning beacon. It’s likely more gobblers have been scared away by uncovered faces than by any other hunting mistake. That’s why a good camo facemask is important. Not only will it help break up your outline, it will also keep light from reflecting off your skin and spooking a bird. Once you find a facemask you like, always take it with you while hunting and use it every time you set up to call.
If you think game cameras are just useful for deer hunters, you better think again. Sure, they’re great for placing around your deer woods to get an idea of what bucks are in your area, but they are equally effective for keeping tabs on your turkey population. Place a handful of cameras around your hunting area and they can give you an idea of how many gobblers are using that area, how big they are, where they are roosting and even where they are strutting. One great advantage of game cameras is they allow you to do you scouting without spending a lot of time tromping over your hunting area. Too much scouting pressure can make gobblers move to a completely different area—sometimes to property where you aren’t allowed to hunt. Game cams can help you avoid that.
The classic way to hunt spring gobblers is to find an area you believe a gobbler is living, sit down against a tree and start calling. Of course, to do that, you need to have a turkey call. And more likely, you need several turkey calls. There are many different types of turkey calls. The four most common types are box calls, push-button calls, slate (pot) calls and mouth (diaphragm) calls. Push-button calls are the easiest to use and can help a beginner have quick success. Box calls are also fairly easy to use and can make more different sounds than a push-button call. When used correctly, slate calls sound just like a hen turkey, but they take practice to perfect. Diaphragm calls are the most difficult to learn, but once you can use them correctly, they will greatly boost your turkey hunting success.
Back in the old days, hunters set up and called in turkeys with just their calls and hunting skill. Then decoys came on the market and revolutionized the sport. Sure, you can kill a spring gobbler without a decoy if you must, but decoys make success much more attainable. Hearing a hen yelp while also seeing a hen decoy generally makes a gobbler much less wary than he would be otherwise. Hen decoys come in lots of different forms, from full-body ones that look extremely realistic to collapsible/foldable ones that look a little rough when staked out but often still get the job done. A hen decoy paired with a jake (immature tom) decoy will sometimes bring a big tom running into your setup, since he thinks an upstart youngster is getting too cozy with one of “his” hens.
With all the stuff you need for turkey hunting—calls, shells, gloves, decoys and various other items—having something to carry your gear in is an absolute necessity. While a backpack will do the job, many companies make turkey vests just for this purpose, and boy are they handy. A good vest will have several zippered internal and external pockets, along with shell loops for storing your shotgun ammunition. Many have customized pockets for box calls, slate calls and even small pockets just the right size for the little containers used to store mouth calls. Most turkey vests also have a cushioned seat attached for more comfort when setting up in an area to call, and many have very thick materials on back so leaning against a tree to call a gobbler won’t be painful for your back.
Many turkey vests have a large back pocket made specifically for carrying the collapsible decoys discussed earlier. Most will even hold two or three. But full-bodied hen decoys and even larger gobbler decoys won’t fit into those pockets, and they’re not easy to carry by hand for a long distance. Consequently, a decoy bag is necessary for carrying those decoys. A good decoy bag will be large enough to carry the decoys you need to haul, but not so big it becomes inconvenient to carry. Look for a bag with a secure closure at top and comfortable, sturdy backpack straps so you can just strap it on your back and head for your next hunting spot, rather than having to carry it in your hand. Get a decoy bag that doesn’t have comfortable straps, and you’ll never be happy with it.
A good ground blind can keep you hidden from an incoming gobbler while also masking your movement as you get ready to take a shot. Experienced hunters know that when a gobbler is getting close, even the slightest movement can be a deal breaker. Since turkeys seldom seem to notice ground blinds—one of the few things they seem dumb about—you can set them up in the middle of a field and hunt from them successfully. In fact, a big, extravagant ground blind isn’t a necessity for turkey hunting. Since you’ll likely be moving often, a small, simple blind that is easy to carry will serve you best. In lieu of a ground blind, a roll of camouflaged material is a good addition to your turkey hunting vest, as it can be used to help camouflage your setup, then easily moved to your next hunting location.
For hunters who have killed their share of gobblers with a shotgun and seek an extra challenge, hunting turkeys with archery gear can be just the adrenaline rush they are seeking. Whether hunting with a traditional bow, compound bow or crossbow, archery hunting yields a whole new set of challenges. And figuring out how to overcome those challenges is all part of the fun. One of the main challenges is drawing your bow without a nearby turkey seeing you do it. That’s where a good ground blind with shoot-through mesh over the windows can really come in handy. While many archery hunters use large-diameter, expandable broadheads for turkey hunting, some broadhead manufacturers make special heads just for turkey hunting that are much larger and designed for lethal head and neck shots.
The two main byproducts of a successful turkey hunt are delicious, lean meat to feed your family and the satisfaction of a job well done. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a trophy involved. Of course, hunters don’t have a turkey head mounted like they do a trophy buck, but the beard and beautiful fan make an outstanding display for hanging in your office, trophy room or man cave. A long, thick turkey beard can bring back memories of your successful hunt when you admire it years later. And few things are as majestic as a gobbler strutting with his tail in full fan. While hunters can take their bird to a taxidermist, many outdoor gear companies sell turkey mounting kits that neatly display your big gobbler’s fan and tail together, yielding a lasting memory of your hunt.
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