by Chris Larsen
How many times have you heard the phrase “this isn’t my first turkey hunt”? Well, for some people it is their first turkey hunt. A successful first turkey hunt hinges on several factors. One of those factors is having the right gear. My best piece of advice would be to hunt with an experienced turkey hunter or guide. This person will have the necessary equipment and the knowledge to utilize it. If this isn’t possible, read on. Getting started in turkey hunting can be intimidating but it’s not impossible.
The first thing to focus on is gear. You’ll need camouflage clothing to suit the conditions you’ll be hunting in. A camo rain suit is also a worthwhile investment. Scent blocking clothing isn’t necessary because turkeys don’t possess the sense of smell that deer have. A padded seat will also come in handy while sitting in the woods. Many of them can be attached to a vest or jacket. Don’t forget a hat, facemask, and gloves. Exposed human skin is easy to spot for a turkey.
An aspiring turkey hunter will also need a call or two. A box call may be the easiest “real” call to learn and it’s incredibly loud so even if you’re not right on the birds, a box call can reel in distant turkeys. The push button style calls are frowned upon by polished turkey callers but they are very easy to use and are perfect for new turkey hunters, especially youth hunters. Listen to the sounds turkeys make and try to mimic them with the call. This link features an example of many of the common calls a turkey makes.
Decoys are becoming increasingly popular with turkey hunters. There is a wide range of prices and features but if you can only afford one decoy, buy a hen decoy. A jake or tom decoy may spook a subordinate gobbler. When it comes to hen decoys, I prefer a decoy in a feeding posture. A motionless bird with it’s head up is a nervous bird. As hunters, we want our decoys to say “everything is great here, come on over.”
When it comes to guns, the twelve gauge is by far the most popular turkey gun although some purists like to hunt with 20 gauges. I prefer my turkeys very dead compared to mostly dead. There are several guns on the market specifically for turkey hunting but just about any shotgun will do. An extra full choke is recommended for maximum pattern density. Extra full turkey chokes are widely available at sporting goods stores and online retailers. Be sure to buy the appropriate choke for your gun. If your shotgun can chamber a 3.5” shell, use them. Otherwise a 3” shell with #5 shot is the standard. To test ballistic performance, it’s vital to pattern your gun before hunting.
Depending on your area, a GPS, insect protection, or even snake boots may be required equipment. Ask someone who hunts in your area or call the local warden for more information. Now that you are all geared up, the real work begins. It’s time to find the turkeys. Check out other great articles on foremosthunting.com for tips on locating and hunting birds.