When turkey hunting began to reestablish itself as a popular sport, the hunting gear manufacturers rose to the occasion with all sorts of unique and fancy things to entice hunters. But while many of these items would be nice to own and use, the vast majority of them simply aren’t necessary to have a successful day afield.
The basics for any turkey hunter would be:
1) a shotgun, preferably a 12 gauge, possessing a tightly constricted choke
2) some form of camo clothing
3) a call or two and
4) a decoy or two. Outside of these basic items, nothing else is mandatory.
The gun is a crucial part of any hunter’s gear. Any 12 gauge shotgun, or in a pinch even a 3” 20 gauge or 16 gauge, will suffice as long as the choke constriction is full, or close to it, and you give careful thought to your ammunition.
While it might take only a few pellets impacting the body of most game birds in order to add them to your game pouch, that certainly isn’t the case with turkeys. To be assured of success, you should always attempt to center the turkey’s head within the shot pattern. In most cases multiple shot impacts directly to the head of the bird, possessing an adequate amount of energy for them to reach the brain of the bird, will be necessary to produce a clean and humane kill. And to achieve that it is strongly recommended that your shells be limited to only those possessing a maximum shot charge weight…and you should reframe from shooting any farther than 35 or 40 yards when using a 12 gauge. For the smaller gauge shotguns that recommended range would drop back to about 30 to 35 yards.
Because the turkey’s eyesight is so acute, camo clothing is an absolute necessity. To provide a bit more cover, you should use camo face paint or some form of camo head netting in order to hide that bright shiny face of yours. A few hunters will erect a very simple small blind. These are almost always very simple affairs sometimes consisting of nothing more than a single piece of camo netting strung between a couple of sticks.
The most common method of hunting, particularly in the spring season, involves calling the birds in. The calls used for this purpose come in a wide variety of different styles, types and difficulties of use. There are various mouth calls including reed-style and more conventional wind activated types, slate calls, box calls and various combinations of each of these.
A decoy spread—another necessity—could be as simple as a single hen, or as complex as a small group of turkeys including both hens and possibly a potential rival gobbler. The use of decoys is particularly beneficial because they provide something for the gobbler to stay focused on other than the hunter. There is a wide variety of decoy styles to select from. There are blowup models, silhouettes, solid 3-dimensional styles, taxidermy mounted birds and even some motorized models.
Outside of locating birds to hunt – the above listed items are about all any turkey hunter really needs to be proficient at bringing home a big old gobbler.
CREDIT: Tom Tabor