Hunters are gear people. We have a bit of a gadget addiction, and no piece of hunting gear enables our problem as much as the turkey vest.
Festooned with pockets and pouches, the turkey vest can hold almost any piece of gear you can imagine, with the possible exception of a 1954 Oldsmobile.
With the spring season upon us, we were cleaning out our vests and were stunned by all the additional stuff we found. Multiple calls, bundles of paracord, three gloves, and a small nest of river otters once thought extinct.
The short version is, we had way too much gear for a turkey hunt. So today, we’re gonna break down the absolute essentials you need in your turkey vest.
The must-have gear you need to pack in your vest is pretty basic.
- Calls (mouth, pot call, box)
- Licenses, tags and documentation
- First aid kit
These are pretty self-explanatory, but critical gear. After a shotgun, decoy and camo, these are the absolute minimums.
This is where the list gets interesting. Nothing on this list is critical, and you can survive and succeed without them. But these items may make the hunt a bit more successful, and therefore a bit more enjoyable.
- Seat pad – Sitting on the ground sucks. Sitting on the cold, wet springtime-chilled ground really sucks. Stuff a seat pad into your vest and your buns will thank you.
- Binoculars – While you can wait until the birds get within visual range, it’s a better strategy to find them before they find you. Whether sitting in the blind, or scouting for a good set-up spot, binos are a great item to add.
- Cleaning gear – Many prefer to process their birds in the field. If you are into breasting out your tom and packing home the good stuff, make sure you have your shears and knife on hand.
- Bug spray – Turkeys have amazing vision. And pretty much zero sense of smell. So feel free to drench yourself in your bug repellant of choice. The warmer it gets, the more creepy crawlies will be out and about, and they like to hang out underneath trees, too.
- Snacks – It can be a long day sitting in the blind listening to your stomach growl. And if that one candy bar ad has taught us anything, it’s that Steve Buscemi is spooky as a kid and you’re not yourself when you are hungry. Just avoid crinkly wrappers and shiny foil and you’ll be fine. We just stuff half a dozen hard-boiled eggs into our pockets.
- Badlands Spur Gauge – It ain’t bragging if you can back it up. Show your buddies definitively what kind of spurs your tom is packing.
Finally, the items that just make a day in the woods a bit more enjoyable. Yeah, we’re hardscrabble, self-reliant, American outdoorsmen and women… But we like to be pampered from time to time, too.
- Hydration bladder – In the later weeks, as spring gets closer to summer, this will move from the luxury to the good-to-have gear category.
- Toilet paper – Look, if y’all need this one explained, you may need more help than we can provide.
- Lip balm – Mock us all you want, we hate chapped lips.
- Cleaning kit – A small Boresnake-type cleaning kit can save the day should you (ahem) accidentally drop your shotgun in the muck. Not that we’ve done it… more than once. OK, twice.
- Handwarmers – Spring can be chilly, and your hands are frequently out of your pockets working the calls. A little extra toastiness in the first few weeks of the season are allowed.
OK, that’s our (not) patented three-tier loadout for turkey hunting. What did we miss? What specific items are always in your vest no matter what? Hop over to our Facebook page and let us know!