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Wouldn’t it be cool if you got a bunch of buds together and hunted turkeys out of a wall-tent camp? Actually, let me answer that for you. Yes, it would be very cool, and I know because I’ve done it a bunch, and it’s always a blast.
Of course, you could just set up individual pup tents and do things that way. I’ve done that too, and it’s fun. But it’s a lot more fun when you have a big, comfortable communal area, where you can cook and eat and play cards and hang out and b.s. together all in one spot.
So, let’s assume you want to go all out and make this the ultimate wall-tent turkey camp for your crew. You can split the costs between you, or you can buy only the essentials for this spring, and fancy it up a little each year. Either way, here’s the gear you want.
Cabela’s Outfitter Wall Tent by Montana Canvas
Buying a quality wall tent is an investment that’s going to set you back anywhere from a grand or so to two or three times that. If that seems steep, think of it as your mobile hunting cabin. That’s peanuts for a cabin, after all, and a wall tent will last about as long and provide nearly as much comfort if you get a good one, like this Cabela’s model made by Montana Canvas.
The Outfitter comes in four sizes from 10×12 to 16×20 and is made of 10.9-oz. white cotton duck that’s treated to be fire-retardant and water- and mildew-resistant. It has a stove jack with weather flap that safely withstands super-high temperatures, plus it has a window in the back with bug screen. A metal frame is sold separately if you don’t want to build your own, as is an extra rain fly, floor, and other add-ons. No matter how you set it up, once you do, you’ll have a super-stable home base out in the wilderness that’ll keep you and your crew out of whatever weather comes. —Dave Hurteau
Riley Stove Company Pellet and Wood Stoves
Your fancy new wall tent has a stove jack, and you’re going to want to stay warm, right? So, you might as well get a nice stove for heating while you’re at it. You don’t need one, necessarily. I’ve hunted out of an unheated wall tent deep into November and survived. But a stove sure is nice, and these packable models from Riley Stove Company are especially so. Available in wood-only, pellet-only, and pellet-or-wood models, Riley stoves are constructed of galvanized steel and feature patented no-warp tops and air-cooled bottoms (no sand required). The pellet stoves are gravity fed (no electricity needed) and the burner unit generates its own airflow. Riley stoves come in a wide range of sizes and prices, so you can get the one that just right for your setup. —D.H.
Camp Chef Pro 14 Two-Burner Cooking System
Now that you’re sitting in the lap of wilderness luxury, in a heated cabin made of canvas, it’s not enough to just eat. You ought to eat well, and that will be a lot easier with Camp Chef’s portable Pro 14 propane stove. The two 30,000 BTU burners, with matchless ignition, have you covered for everything from brewing coffee and frying bacon to making smash burgers, soups, stews, chili, and more. But the Pro 14 isn’t just a stove; it’s a cooking system designed to work with a bunch of accessories, including a reversible griddle, bbq grill box, and even a pizza oven. Pair the Pro 14 with some good cast-iron cookware, and the menu at hunting camp can include just about anything you want. —D.H.
White Duck Regatta Bell Tents
If it’s just you and a buddy, you can probably set up cots at opposite ends of the big wall tent and sleep in relative peace. But if you’ve got a bigger group and don’t want to listen to everyone’s snoring all night, you’ll want some satellite sleeping tents. White Duck’s Regatta Bell Tents are perfect for this. Made of tough 8.5-ounce army duck cotton canvas with a water-repellent and mold- and UV-resistant finish, they are made to last a lifetime, stand up to rough weather, and they offer lots of space and head room so you’re not bent over the whole time you’re inside. White Duck has also just expanded their line of Regatta tents with the new Regatta 360. It features mesh walls all the way around the base of the tent, making it ideal for cooking or just hanging out. Available in a range of sizes, these tents come with a galvanized-steel frame, a stove jack, and a sewn-in 7.5-ounce groundsheet. Put a cot or two in each and snooze in comfort. —D.H.
ALPS Mountaineering Camp Cot
I used to think that I couldn’t sleep while camping. But then I got a good cot and realized that I just can’t sleep on the ground. With a powdered-aluminum frame, 325-pound capacity, and a 600D polyester sleeping fabric, the ALPS Camp Cot gets you up off the floor and offers plenty of room for you to stretch out and get comfy. Speaking of which, you might as well go all out and get a nice self-inflating pad and cozy sleeping bag too. The cot sets up quickly with solid steel connectors and breaks down in a snap when the hunt is over and fits neatly into an included carry bag. —D.H.
ALPS Mountaineering Campside Chairs
You can’t have too many camp chairs, and this Campside model from ALPS comes with a 14×10-inch side table with cupholder, perfect for the fireside. Fold the table down at the dinner table in the wall tent, then bring out to the fireside to hold your coffee in the morning or your beer at night. It has a 600D polyester-fabric seat and powder-coated steel frame that holds up to 300 pounds, and the chair folds to a compact size for easy transport and storage. —D.H.
ALPS Vanish Chair
If you’d like a chair that does double duty, the ALPS Vanish chair is the deal. It’s low to the ground, very sturdy, and incredibly comfortable whether you’re sitting in the woods waiting on a tom (which I did successfully at home prior to camp) or reading a book in the shade of your tent’s rain fly (which I did successfully at camp). —Phil Bourjaily
You don’t need me to tell you that you need some Thermacell units at turkey camp. So think of this as just a friendly reminder that you probably don’t want to get eaten alive. —D.H.
Maven C.4 15×56 Binocular
The last wall-tent turkey camp I went to was set up in a small grove of trees surrounded by Nebraska’s sandhills. At any point, you could peer out the front door of the main wall tent and spot a far-off dark blob out on the prairie that might be a strutter. And that’s is why it’s nice to a have a camp binocular—so that when someone says, “What’s that out there?” you can find out. You won’t need to carry it far, so you might as well get a big, powerful model like Maven’s C.4 15×56. Odds are you don’t want to spend really big bucks on a camp binocular, and the C.4 gives you all the power and image quality you need around the campsite for a mid-range price. It also makes a great truck binocular for turkey hunting when everyone else is in the field and you don’t need it to be at camp. —D.H.
Maven B7 Folding Binocular
If, on the other hand, you want a compact binocular to take with you on a good, old-fashioned turkey death march, consider the folding Maven B7. The B7 packs Maven’s top-of-the-line glass into a binocular that fits into your shirt pocket and weighs just 12.4 ounces. It will be introduced in late June, but I was lucky enough to try an early sample that saved me many wasted steps by helping me distinguish the turkeys from the yucca plants and the jakes from the toms at a distance. —P.B.
Benelli SBE3 Turkey Performance Shop
At that same Nebraska camp, I was lucky enough that the hosts provided shotguns. None of your guests are going to expect that, of course, but maybe while you’re investing in a killer turkey camp, it’s time to seriously upgrade your turkey gun, too. At our camp, we all toted Benelli SBE3 Turkey Performance Shop 12 gauges, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better gobbler gun. Benelli worked with Arkansas gunsmith and choke-tube specialist Rob Roberts to squeeze the best performance possible from the SBE3 Turkey. Roberts combined a custom .655 choke with longer forcing cones to optimize pattern density. The 3½-inch 12-gauge weighs 6.8 pounds, has a 24-inch barrel, a pistol-grip stock, and comes with a Burris FastFire II red-dot. It ain’t cheap, but if you’re going all-out on your turkey gear, this is probably the gun to have. —D.H.
Federal and Remington TSS Turkey Ammo
Our hosts also provided ammo for those shotguns—and not just any ammo. We had our choice of Federal Premium Heavyweight TSS and Remington’s new Premium TSS Turkey Loads. Both gave us patterns bordering on ridiculous out to 50 yards and beyond—farther than I want to shoot a turkey. Federal TSS comes in a wide range of options, including 3- and 3-1/2-inch 12-gauge loads in shot sizes 7, 9, and a mix of 7 and 9; 3-inch 20-gauge loads in 7, 9, 7 and 9, and 8 and 10; and 3-inch .410 loads in 9 shot. Remington TSS comes in 3-inch 12-gauge and 20-gauge loads of 7 or 9 shot, and 3-inch .410 loads in 9 shot. TSS ain’t cheap either, but when you’ve set you yourself and your buddies up in the ultimate turkey camp, you might as well shoot the good stuff. —D.H.
HEVI 18 Low Recoil TSS
If you want all the punch of TSS at the muzzle end with a lot less pain at your end, Federal has you covered with its new Low Recoil TSS. Loaded to 1090 fps., the 1 1/4-ounce 2 ¾-inch 12 gauge 9s patterned impressively at 40 yards at the range, and one of the hunters in camp killed a bird at 60 with it. —P.B.
Ticks are frequent, uninvited, unwelcome guests at any turkey camp. In Nebraska, we kept them at bay by treating our clothes and boots with Sawyer permethrin the night before the hunt started. In the morning we used Picaridin repellant on our skin. Permetherin-treated clothes remain effective over several washings, and the Permetherin kills ticks that crawl across it. Meanwhile, Picaridin is very effective yet contains no DEET, so it will not attack synthetic gunstocks and is safe for people with DEET allergies. —D.H.
Alps Ambush Sling Pack
Designed for the run and gun hunter, the Ambush pack holds everything you need if you like to cover ground and you don’t want the bulk of a regular vest on a hot day. I used it any time we were walking a lot and loved it. It can be set up for left or right shoulder wear; and has a box call pocket, a pocket for two pot calls,a main compartment for snacks and water, and a binocular plus mesh zippered accessory pocket on the back. There is a detachable Thermacell pouch plus two shell loops and a mouth-call holder on the shoulder strap. —P.B.
Pelican Dayventure Sling Cooler
This sturdy, semi-rigid, Pelican soft-sided cooler is a handy shape for slinging over your shoulder, and you can stand it up on its compression-molded base, too. It features a waterproof zipper, and it holds ice and either 12 cans of beer or, or, if you’re turkey glamping, four bottles of wine. I can also verify that this highly useful cooler is perfectly sized to hold the breast, legs, thighs, beard, fan, and feet of a Merriam’s/eastern hybrid on the trip home. —P.B.