With that being said, let’s break down a complete turkey vest pack-list designed to keep you one step ahead of any stubborn longbeard or hunting situation you might encounter in any given spring season.
- Mouth Diaphragm Calls: Always pack a full-range of diaphragm mouth calls with a variety of cuts to produce multiple hen vocalizations, different tones and cadences. Sometimes a particular gobbler might be a sucker for a hen that’s raspy sounding, while other longbeards in the area might prefer a high-pitched or clear-noted version of sweet talk from the ladies.
- Friction Calls: A natural-sounding box call along with your go-to slate, crystal or glass calls should also be packed. Don’t forget to take a variety of strikers and make sure at least one has a waterproof tip for rainy or damp hunting conditions.
- Shock Calls: Throw in at least one crow, owl, woodpecker, hawk or gobbling shock call to locate longbeards. Gobblers in areas that receive intense outside hunting pressure may respond better to a woodpecker or hawk call, because they’ve been beat to death with the more popular owl and crow locater calls.
- Call Conditioner Tools: Every turkey hunting vest should have call-conditioning tools such as sandpaper, chalk and a grinding stone to keep all of your friction calls clean and sounding good. Dirt, mud, rain, perspiration and general use or wear can potentially make your favorite turkey call sound more like a wounded goose than a sexy hen.
- Rangefinder: Never leave home without a compact laser rangefinder. This handy device will help take the guesswork out of judging distance to target and reduce those gut-wrenching misses. Knowing the exact distance of a gobbler and the effective shooting range of your bow, crossbow or shotgun will dramatically increase your overall harvest ratios.
- Compact Optics: A small set of binoculars is a great tool for locating turkeys and to determine their line of travel, especially when hunting open areas with high-visibility. You don’t want to waste your time and a lot of steps getting closer to a flock of jakes or lonely hens with no gobbler.
- Packable Rain Suit: Spring weather can be extremely fickle and may throw rain or even snow at you on any given hunt. In order to stay warm and dry, bring along a small packable rain suit or poncho for when Mother Nature throws you a curve.
- Turkey Decoy: A collapsible decoy might give gobblers visual confirmation they sometimes need, and can help attract turkeys from long distances. Packing a single Jake or hen decoy can payoff big time in tough hunting situations.
- Thermacell and Spray Insect Repellent: Feeling like an “all you can eat” buffet for mosquitoes, ticks and other blood-sucking insects is the fastest way to kill the joy of any hunt. Packing a Thermacell and can/bottle of insect repellent spray is the best way to keep mosquitoes and other biting insects from ruining your hunt.
- Facemask and Gloves: Pack an extra set of gloves and facemask for complete concealment of hands and face. It’s really easy to accidentally lose or leave these items at home, or behind after a sit, so bringing an extra set is always a good policy.
- Water and Snack: Cold water and granola or energy bar will help you make it through an extended all-day hunt, especially when you’re running and gunning long distances from one gobbler to the next.
- Small Flashlight: Packing a small LED flashlight can come in handy when entering and exiting hunting areas. It’s also nice to have when organizing gear inside of a dark blind before it breaks daylight.
- Extra Ammo: Always store a few extra turkey shotshells in case of a possible miss, bad shot, misfire or unplanned shooting spree on coyotes or snakes with fangs.
- Pruners: Carrying a small set of sharp pruners in your vest can be a big help when trimming shooting lanes in thick areas, stalking through noisy briar patches, or cutting sapling limbs to brush-in a setup to provide much needed concealment in areas with limited cover.
- TP and Plastic Bags: Toilet paper stored in a small plastic bag is a must-have for those situations when nature unexpectedly calls. Throwing in a small thick-walled garbage bag also is a great thing to have to keep your turkey vest and calls bone dry during a surprise rain or snow shower.
Editor’s Note: A small first-aid kit and/or a snake-bite kit also are good safety standby items to pack, especially when taking a youngster. You probably won’t need them on any given outing, but if/when that moment comes, you’ll never hunt without those items again.