Is All Of This Gear Really Necessary?

By Cole Daniels

Turkey hunting is a gear intensive sport. There are fancy vests with seats attached, a laundry list of calls, all kinds of crazy decoys, specialized turkey guns, and super-duper camouflage. That doesn’t include all of the add on accessories to make all of those things better. In our pursuit of ghostly gobblers, many hunters forget about the leading factors in filling a turkey tag, knowledge of the animal and skillful hunting.

Turkey hunting gear can be overwhelming

You can have all the fancy gear you can buy, but if you don’t know about turkey behavior and how to hunt them, you are probably going home empty handed. “Today’s turkey hunter has about as many choices for gear as we all do when we want to buy a candy bar at the local convenience store,” said Tim Lawhern, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conservation warden. “Ultimately it’s a hunter’s knowledge, skill and well-practiced abilities that make or break the hunt.” In other words, there is no magic pill for turkey hunting success. It takes hard work and determination.

You can find a nearly limitless amount of turkey hunting information here at State agencies and even sporting good stores offer turkey hunting clinics to help you become a better hunter. The best way to learn about turkey hunting is to hunt turkeys. Do you know how the household cleaner Formula 409 got it’s name? It was the 409th formula it’s makers tried. That means they failed to make their perfect cleaner 408 times. The same goes for turkey hunting. Yes, there are hunters who make kills on their first hunt. Most of them are probably being helped by a more experienced hunter. The vast majority of turkey hunters are going to fail before they succeed… no matter how much gear they have.

But is all of this new gear dangerous? Decoys look more realistic than ever. Many hunters carry several calls that sound more like turkeys than calls of yesteryear. Warden Lawhern says he has seen plenty of cases where the strong desire to see a turkey produces a momentary image that isn’t real. “That moment, while short, lasts long enough for some to pull the trigger.” In fact, Lawhern suggests one of the best pieces of equipment a turkey hunter can bring into the woods is a pair of binoculars. “The only legal turkey in the spring is a male or bearded turkey,” Lawhern said. “If you don’t see a beard on that bird, don’t shoot.” Those extra seconds to positively identify a bird can be enough to avoid a potentially tragic mistake.

One positive aspect of the turkey gear boom is the recruitment of new hunters. People like gadgets. Don’t believe me? The next time you’re having lunch in a restaurant look around. Just about everybody will have some sort of smart phone they are fiddling with. Turkey hunting gadgets are usually interactive. They give people something to do when there are no turkeys in sight. They give hunters hope that maybe this piece of equipment will end their streak of fruitless hunts. The great thing about turkey hunting gadgets is you don’t need them to be successful. But they sure build confidence.

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Posted in: Gear