It In --
Your Turkey Vests, Backpacks, Fanny Packs
-- by Rob Ramsdale
to the expanding popularity of turkey hunting and
the ever-increasing numbers of turkey hunters, there
is a huge variety of hunting equipment available nowadays.
In the past, turkey hunting was a much simpler activity.
The hunter picked up his every-day, double-barrelled
shotgun, put a few shells in his pocket and walked
out the door. He usually dressed in his drab colored
work clothes and hat and slipped his favorite box
call, slate call, wingbone or scratch box into his
jacket on the way out of the house.
No camouflaged clothing.
No fancy camo, extreme full-choked turkey gun. No
vest with 20 gazilllion pockets. No high-tech, high-frequency
calls. It was him, his shotgun and his homemade turkey
call -- all ready to do battle with a wary old gobbler.
Today's modern turkey
hunter has more choices than he knows what do with.
Having lots of choices can be a very good thing but
it sometimes becomes overwhelming to a beginner. First,
you have to decide what you are going to use to haul
all of your equipment. This choice will also help
determine the amount and type of gear you can carry
with you into the woods.
are 3 basic choices for packing turkey hunting gear
into the woods: 1) Turkey Vest, 2) Back Pack and 3)
Turkey vests come in
many different styles including the full vest/jacket
style shown above and less expensive shoulder strap
models. I prefer vests myself because of the many
separate pockets and the game bag on the back that
lets me carry decoys easily plus a gobbler if I am
successful that day.
Back packs are used by
many hunters also since they allow you to carry as
much or more gear than the vests. They can also be
removed and even used as a backrest if necessary.
packs are the least expensive option (most are under
$10) and are popular amongst many hunters since you
can carry some gear but you're not weighted down nearly
as much as with a backpack or vest. They also can
be spun around to the front, providing quick access
to anything inside.
you decide to pack your gear into the turkey woods,
the question still remains, "What do I take with
There are as many answers
to this question as there are turkey hunters in the
woods. When I first started turkey hunting, I had
a Lynch box call and my old Winchester pump. Now,
I own more turkey hunting gear than any sane person
probably should. I can spend hours going over my shelves
of turkey calls the night before a hunt, just trying
to pick out the perfect one to call in that gobbler
in the morning. Watching me pick out turkey calls
is probably about as bad as watching Imelda Marcos
trying to pick out a pair of shoes. I realize I do
not need to carry 22 different turkey calls with me
but you never know what call the gobbler will respond
to. I've sat down and gone through 10 different sounding
calls before finding the one the gobbler likes.
Do you need to carry
that many calls with you? No, absolutely not but if
you want to there are now vests available that allow
you to carry them and much more.
I have also hunted many
times with the bare essentials both by choice and
sometimes by chance. Like most turkey hunters, I have
at various times forgotten my vest, my calls, and
even my shotgun on more than one occasion. All of
those trips came out okay and even when I forget my
shotgun I usually have a camera with me to take pictures
so all is not lost. On one very sleepy morning towards
the end of the season several years ago, I arrived
at my hunting location without my shotgun or any turkey
calls. I had been chasing an old gobbler that continued
to elude me after several weeks of hunting him. Without
my gun or my calls, I ended up setting up that day
and calling in that old gobbler to within 10 yards
of me just by making clucks and purrs with my mouth.
Such is the life of a turkey hunter.
My bare bones hunting
package consists of my shotgun, camo coveralls, turkey
tag & license, shells and a mouth call. Usually,
though, I have a vest with me and below are two lists
of gear you can put in your vest or back pack. The
"Basic Necessities" are items that
are permanently in my vest. "Optional"
items are items I sometimes carry or wish I had with
me at some point and time in my hunting career.
- 5 shotgun shells
- Full camo outfit including
- Turkey tag
- Pencil or pen to sign tag
- Turkey Calls ( Box call,
Long box, friction calls, diaphragm call,
wingbone call or tube call)
- Crow Call
- Sandpaper - scouring pad
- Headnet or Facemask
- Bugspray (Mosquitoes &
- Water or Drinks
- Toilet Paper
- Turkey Tote
- Extra set of gloves and facemask
- Extra strikers for slate
- Other Locater Calls - (owl,
gobble tube, hawk, goose, coyote, peacock,
- Leatherman type multi-purpose
- Walkie Talkie / 2 way radio
- Topo map of hunting area
- Aerial photos of hunting
- Rain gear
- Laser Rangefinder
- Ratcheting Pruners
- Folding Saw
- Ground Blind (or square piece
of camo cloth)
- Snacks / Food / MRE's
- Moistened Hand Wipes
- Seat or pad
- Snake bite kit
I am sure there are many
other items being carried around out there by some
turkey hunter that I would have never thought of packing
in my vest. In a way, that's the beauty of being a
turkey hunter. You can approach turkey hunting in
as simple a manner or as complex as you would like.
Ultimately, it doesn't
really matter since it's the turkey who's in charge.