OUTFITTING YOUR TURKEY CAMP
Warm spring weather brings gobblers out in full force, and that means it’s time for turkey camp. Here is a list of essential items to bring with you this year so you can bag your bird
When the grass turns green and the weather warms, most hunters are thinking about birds. Specifically, turkeys. The resurgence of wild turkey populations is a conservation success story unlike any other, and for hunters that means a chance to extend your season, spend more time in the woods, and fill your freezer with some excellent wild game.
But before you start clearing space on your wall for a full-body turkey mount, you’ll need to be sure that you have the right equipment when you head out to turkey camp. Before you head out in search of a big gobbler, take the time to review this checklist and be sure that you have all the gear you need to make your hunt comfortable and successful
Calls: Since turkeys may respond better to one type of call than another, it’s important to have a number of different options available. A locator call—usually one that mimics a crow, barred owl or pileated woodpecker—will help locate the birds. When you’re set up, having a number of calls in your vest offers plenty of choices. Slate calls, box calls, and diaphragms are all good options, and if you can use two calls simultaneously, you’ll draw the attention of even the wariest old bird.
Decoys: Decoys will improve your success in most situations, but you’ll need to be certain that your dekes are lifelike and light enough to carry to and from the field. Having a good mix of decoys in camp is a real asset because you can adjust the decoy pattern to what the birds are drawn to at a particular time of year. Sometimes a single hen does the trick, but having a few hens and a jake or gobbler decoy allows you to create a different look if the birds aren’t responding to a solo.
Clothing: Light, breathable camo clothing is important since you’ll need to be comfortable in the woods. Under Armour’s UA Ridge Reaper Turkey Ninja Hoodie is lightweight and has a special lining that pulls heat away from the body, helping you stay cool when the actions heats up. Also, don’t forget to pack your rain gear and a pair of high-quality boots.
Masking Scents: Yes, turkeys have a very poor sense of smell, but deer don’t, and more than one hunter has been busted and lost a big bird when deer caught their scent and alerted the whole woods to a hunter’s presence. Hiding from gobblers means you must hide from all the animals in the woods, so pack a bottle of Wildlife Research Center’s Scent Killer Gold Spray to block your odor.
Shotgun or Bow: This should be one of the first things that you pack, but be sure that you bring not only your weapon of choice but also the important accessories that go along with it. HIVIZ sights make it easier to place a shot accurately in low light conditions, Birchwood Casey’s new Barricade Dauber Pen helps rust-proof your weapon and fits in a pocket, and don’t forget hearing and eye protection, something like Birchwood Casey’s Crest 24 Muffs and Vector Shooting Glasses, which are available as a package. Be sure your gun or bow and all your gear are stored in a durable, hard-sided case.
Ammo and Arrows: When a bird finally presents itself, you’ll want to make a quick, clean kill, so be sure that you have plenty of arrows and ammo. Federal’s excellent 3rd Degree turkey load, which is available in 12 and 20 gauge, is a unique blend of 20% FLITESTOPPER, 40% copper-plated lead and 40% HEAVYWEIGHT shot, and that combination is lethal on big birds.
Targets: It’s always a good idea to have some targets on-hand to help verify your zero before you set out to hunt, especially if you’re using a shotgun with an optic. For that reason, you need to pack several light and easy-to-assemble targets for the field. Birchwood Casey offers their PREGAME Tablock Turkey Kit, which includes a wire frame with corrugated backing and three PREGAME turkey targets, for less than $13.
Vest: Most turkey hunters—myself included—would be lost in the woods without their turkey vest. This essential garment allows you to keep all of your important items—licenses, tags, calls, gloves, ammo, and more—close at hand when you need it. The Grand Slam Turkey Vest from Alps OutdoorZ is a great option because it offers a convenient way to store all your gear when traveling to and from camp and the pocket design keeps all your gear accessible in the field.
Knives and Cleaning Supplies: When the bird is down, you’ll need the right tools for the job. A lightweight, compact system like Outdoor Edge’s Razor Lite knife system fits comfortably on your belt and offers the simplicity of changeable blades so you’ll always have a sharp edge.
Accessories: Turkey season brings out the bugs, and there are few things that can ruin a hunt faster than a swarm of blood-sucking mosquitoes following you through the woods. That’s why ThermaCELL portable mosquito repellents are a must for any turkey camp. They are an affordable and convenient way to keep from getting bugged this spring.