John’s Note: I’ve hunted turkeys for more than 30 years. I consider myself something of an expert, not because I know all about turkey hunting, but because I’ve made every mistake a hunter can make at least twice. While turkey hunting, I’ve learned first-hand what won’t work, and what equipment you must have for success afield. On this checklist, I include the equipment I’ve learned to take with me to make my hunt much-more successful and comfortable. I keep all my equipment packed in my turkey vest and my hunting pack throughout the season, adding and subtracting items as I use them. Then I know I’m ready to attack the day when I hear that first gobbler talk to the tall timbers at the christening of a new day. Here are some items turkey hunters have told me everyone needs to take afield (see Days 1 and 2).
A tube of black grease paint. If for some reason you have any exposed skin or bright-colored clothing not covered or hidden by camouflage, you can use black grease paint to hide that exposed area. When I’m hunting an ole, bad longbeard, I’ll put black grease paint under and over my eyelids, so the turkey can’t see me through the holes of my headnet. I’ll keep the grease paint in my right front pocket. Then if I know I have a turkey coming in and can’t find a glove quickly, I simply can smear the grease paint on that exposed hand and be ready to take the shot in an instant.
Extra shells. You probably think that no one needs more than six shells when he or she hunts turkeys. However, once I did miss two turkeys and had to shoot six times in one day. If I hadn’t had the two extra shells, I couldn’t have taken the third bird we called in that morning before 12:00 noon.
Lightweight, wicking underwear. I wear long underwear during turkey season, regardless of the weather conditions. Most mornings, before daylight, the underwear feels good in the somewhat cool or cold weather we often have during turkey season. But even later in the day when the temperature may climb higher, because that long underwear wicks moisture away from my skin, I can stay cool in the warm weather. Besides if I get too warm, I always can take the underwear off.
Lightweight waders. I always carry a pair of inexpensive, lightweight waders and a cheap pair of tennis shoes in the back of my hunting vest or day pack. I’ve often had to wade streams and cross creeks to get to within calling distance of a gobbler without waders in the spring, and then I’ve had to hunt all day while wet. I prefer to carry the small amount of extra weight that the waders and tennis shoes add to my pack. Then I know I can cross most streams and hunt dry throughout the day.
A stuff sack. I carry a one-gallon Ziploc bag to put my extra stuff in – little essentials that can make my turkey-hunting trip much-more productive and comfortable. I’ll include items like toilet paper, extra sandpaper for my friction calls, a small bottle of extra insect repellant, chalk for my box calls, extra strikers, extra batteries for my GPS receiver, a small compass to use if for some reason my GPS receiver breaks down, Band-Aids, a couple of candy bars, waterproof matches, a space blanket and other emergency gear. I’ve never deliberately intended to spend the night in the woods when I’ve hunted wily toms, but it can and does happen to hunters each year.
To get “PhD Gobblers,” “Turkey Hunting Tactics” and “The Turkey Hunter’s Bible,” ebooks by John E. Phillips click here.
About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.