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Field Tested: Turkey Hunting Gear You Can Depend On

The author has tested lots of great turkey gear over the last couple of years. Here are some of his favorite products.

Field Tested: Turkey Hunting Gear You Can Depend On

Photo by Drew Warden

Hunting is a gear-intensive sport, and chasing longbeards in the spring is no exception to this. A minimalist hunter can get by with fairly little, but he or she will still need some basics—a shotgun, ammunition, clothing, boots, calls, etc. Those of us who pack a little heavier, meanwhile, may carry an array of gear into the field with us.

Whatever type of hunter you are, today’s manufacturers create a host of products to fit your unique needs. Over the past few years on hunts in several different states across the country, I’ve had the chance to use a number of these products first-hand in the field.

Below, I’ll highlight some of my favorites from several different categories ranging from guns and ammo to optics and clothing, and more. Hopefully, some of these products can fill a need in your own turkey hunting and can serve you as well as they have me.

SHOTGUNS

Franchi Affinity 3.5 Turkey

Franchi Affinity 3.5 Turkey shotgun
Franchi Affinity 3.5 Turkey shotgun. (Photo courtesy of Franchi)

The standard Affinity, with its Inertia-Driven operating system and slick ergonomics, is itself an excellent semi-auto shotgun. However, the 3.5 Turkey model takes it to the next level for diehard longbeard chasers. Its larger chamber allows for the use of longer shells some hunters prefer, like the 3 1/2-inch Federal Premium Grand Slam 2-ounce No. 4s I used to harvest an Eastern bird a couple years back in Illinois. It also has a relatively short 24-inch barrel, which is incredibly handy in the turkey woods or when getting in and out of popup blinds. While the gun has an excellent shrouded dual-color Truglo fiber-optic front sight, it’s drilled and tapped for easily installing optics, too.

Like many new dedicated turkey guns, the Affinity 3.5 Turkey has a pistol grip. I’m a fan of these for turkey hunting, as I think they feel a bit more comfortable when holding for a shot for extended periods, but this ultimately comes down to user preference. Many hunting shotguns are now coming with oversized controls and beveled loading ports to make operation easier, and this gun is no exception. It also comes with extended Turkey and Extra-Full Turkey chokes and sports a TSA recoil pad in the stock to help mitigate the effects of potent turkey loads.

At around 7.5 pounds, it’s certainly light enough to run-and-gun with, but it’s also not so light as to become unbearable to shoot with heavy turkey loads. Its listed MSRP is around $1,200, but you can probably find it for a little bit less. $1,229 | franchiusa.com

CZ Reaper Magnum

CZ Reaper Magnum shotgun
CZ Reaper Magnum shotgun. (Photo by Drew Warden)

This is without question one of the most intriguing turkey guns I’ve ever tested, and the longer I used it on a Merriam’s turkey hunt in Montana, the more I came to like it. With all the semi-auto and pump-action turkey guns on the market, it’s easy to brush aside the idea of a double-barreled scattergun as antiquated. However, it offers at least one key benefit.

Because it has multiple barrels, you can run different choke tubes for each barrel. The ideal setup, in my mind, is a full or extra-full turkey choke on one barrel and a more open choke on the second barrel. This way, you’re prepared for toms that hang up at a distance or that inevitably surprise you up close. All you have to do is flip the barrel selector switch, and you’re ready for either scenario.

The CZ Reaper Magnum offers this capability and more. The gun is optics-ready, featuring a top Picatinny rail, and it comes with five extended chokes, including an extra-full option. At around 7 pounds in weight and utilizing front and back QD swivels for a sling, it’s tailor made for running and gunning. The 26-inch barrel is also short enough for the gun to feel at home in a blind, too. Other turkey hunting niceties include 3 1/2-inch chambers and a spring-appropriate camo-clad polymer stock. $1,099 | cz-usa.com

Retay Gordion Turkey

Retay Gordion Turkey shotgun
Retay Gordion Turkey shotgun. (Photo courtesy of Justin Brouillard)

Many hunters have historically viewed Turkish-made shotguns in a very poor light, as, at one time, a number of these exported shotguns were lacking in quality or reliability. Thankfully, this is no longer inherently the case. While some bad eggs still do exist, many Turkish shotguns are as good, if not better, than their counterparts produced in Europe or even the U.S. Retay is one such Turkish manufacturer producing quality shotguns that rival the capabilities, quality and looks of well-known and well-respected scatterguns, and the Gordion Turkey is a great example of this.

Like most of Retay’s shotguns, the Gordion Turkey is built heavily upon their version of Benelli’s classic Inertia system. The patents for this operating system expired in 2006, coincidentally right around the time Retay was founded. However, the Gordion Turkey isn’t just a Benelli knockoff. As with some of Retay’s other recoil-operated shotguns, it actually offers some improvements to the proven Inertia system—namely by virtually eliminating out-of-battery misfires and bolt rattle and allowing hunters to empty the magazine without cycling the bolt.

Most hunters are familiar with the so-called “Benelli click,” wherein the bolt was either knocked out of battery or a hunter tried to quietly close the action and didn’t use enough force to lock it in. When the hunter next went to shoot, he or she was met with an audible click but no bang. More recent Benelli designs have eliminated this problem, and so too has Retay with its design.

Recommended


Beyond a proven Inertia operating system, the Gordion Turkey offers lots of great features. It has a shorter 24-inch barrel, a 3-inch chamber (with today’s excellent loads, you can do pretty much everything with a 3-inch chamber that you can do with a 3 1/2) and a nice recoil pad. Although it comes equipped with a nice TruGlo fiber-optic front sight, it’s also optics-ready with a single-piece aluminum dovetail optic mount. Depending on your preference, you can choose a version with or without a pistol grip.

With an overall length around 45 inches and a weight of a little less than 7 pounds, the Gordion Turkey is a handy gun for the turkey woods. It certainly worked great for me this spring on an early Osceola hunt in Florida. $949 | retayusa.com

AMMO

Boss Shotshells Boss Tom 18 12 ga. 3-in. 2 1/2-oz. No. 9

Boss Tom shotshells
Boss Tom shotshells. (Photo courtesy of Oliver Rogers)

There’s no question that incorporating denser-than-lead non-toxic shot, like tungsten, has made many of us more lethal turkey hunters. Because tungsten is denser (18 g/cc for TSS) than lead (11.3 g/cc), it hits harder on target than comparably sized standard lead shot. Essentially, you can use smaller-sized tungsten shot while retaining the same level of lethality, and, because you’re using smaller shot, you can also fit more of it into each shell. The result, as in the case of Boss’ Boss Tom 12-gauge 3-inch No. 9 loads, can be a wall of even more lethal pellets traveling at a gobbler. This particular load, which I used this spring to bag a Florida Osceola inside of 30 yards, weighs 2 1/2 ounces, travels at 1,050 fps and contains 905 pellets per shell. This might’ve been overkill at such distances, but I’m all for anything that quickly dispatches game, and this shell certainly delivered.

The load uses a full-length hand-assembled wad, and Boss recommends using a choke with a constriction between .665 and .675. The only downside to this load might be its cost, which breaks down to about $13 per shot. However, depending on how many tags you can get in your state or how many states you hunt, it may be the only box of shells you need in a season. $65/box of 5 shells | bossshotshells.com

Federal Premium Heavyweight TSS 12 ga. 3-in. 2 oz No. 7 and 9

Federal Premium Heavyweight TSS
Federal Premium Heavyweight TSS shotshells. (Photo by Drew Warden)

Another great high-density load is Federal Premium’s Heavyweight TSS. While all offerings in this line are solid, I’ve had the most experience with the 3-inch 12-gauge load offering a 2-ounce mixed payload of No. 7 and No. 9 TSS shot. With a density 22 percent higher than standard tungsten and 56 percent higher than lead, TSS reliably anchors gobblers, even as distances stretch.

I dropped an eastern Montana Merriam’s turkey at a little over 40 yards with this load a couple seasons back, but its effective range certainly extends beyond that. And, because of its increased pellet count (roughly double what a similar-weight payload of lead No. 5s would have), it offers better odds for more lethal hits. The full-length rear braking Flitecontrol Flex wads, meanwhile, provide very tight and consistent patterns through both standard and ported turkey choke tubes and prevent extra-hard pellets from contacting the bore.

As with all loads primarily featuring TSS, however, these will set you back a bit. Expect to pay around $70 to $80 for a box of five. $88.99/box of 5 shells | federalpremium.com

Winchester Long Beard XR

Winchester Long Beard XR shotshells
Winchester Long Beard XR shotshells. (Photo courtesy of Winchester)

There’s no denying the effectiveness of high-density TSS loads. However, traditional turkey loads can be quite effective as well, and at a significantly reduced cost. One excellent option in this category is Winchester’s Long Beard XR. I first got an opportunity to use Long Beard XR back in 2015 when they expanded the line to include heavier magnum offerings. That spring, I harvested a nice Rio Grande turkey in southern Oklahoma with one of the (new at the time) 12-gauge 3-inch No. 5 Magnum loads. Long Beard XR loads have, of course, been performing well on turkeys ever since their introduction a decade ago.

The Shot-Lok resin that these loads utilize produces exceptionally tight patterns for a traditional turkey load. According to Winchester, they place twice as many pellets in a 10-inch circle out to 60 yards when compared with other traditional lead turkey loads, and 10 percent greater penetration than standard loads beyond 50 yards.

The Magnum loads don’t move quite as fast as the standard Long Beard XR loads (1,050 fps versus 1,200 fps for 12-gauge offerings), but that’s to be expected with a heavier payload. Overall, any of the Long Beard XR loads represent a great, reasonably priced option for hunters taking ethical shots on gobblers. $24.99 | winchester.com

Federal Premium Grand Slam 12 ga. 3 ½ in. 2 oz No. 4

Federal Premium Grand Slam
Federal Premium Grand Slam. (Photo courtesy of Federal Premium)

This one is another solid traditional turkey load option available in a variety of payload and shot size options. Like Federal’s Heavyweight TSS loads, this one uses the Flitecontrol Flex wad. This rear-opening wad helps produce highly consistent downrange patterns, whether you’re using ported or standard choke tubes.

Lead pellets are also copper-plated and buffered to reduce shot deformation and retain more energy as distances stretch. I’ve used the 12-gauge 3 1/2-inch 2-ounce No. 4s to harvest Easterns out to 40 yards, and it’s a great load if you’ve got a gun that accepts 3 1/2-inch shells. That particular load pushes roughly 270 pellets at 1,200 fps, but any Grand Slam load will work on turkeys at reasonable distances. Here again, with this load you’re getting a lot of performance at a strong price point. $31.99 | federalpremium.com

VESTS

Primos Will Primos Turkey Vest

Primos Will Primos Turkey Vest
Primos Will Primos Turkey Vest. (Photo by Drew Warden)

I’ve worn this vest everywhere from the hills of Nebraska’s Pine Ridge region and eastern Montana to southern Missouri, and it has performed very well. The number of pockets on this thing is astounding. You’ve got outer zippered pockets, inner zippered pockets, exterior call pockets for pots and box calls, pockets designed to hold your strikers, a pouch for a water bladder and more. It’s actually crazy how much gear you can stow in this vest.

The vest has adjustable shoulder straps and buckles to ensure a custom, comfortable fit. There is also a removable 3-inch-thick seat pad with a magnetic snap to easily lock it in place on the vest’s back or flip it down for sitting.

Bottom line, it’s a great vest for any turkey hunter. However, it’s an especially great choice if you’re the kind of person who likes to pack in a lot of calls, snacks and other gear. $199.99 | primos.com

Sitka Equinox Turkey Vest

Sitka Equinox Turkey Vest
Sitka Equinox Turkey Vest. (Photo courtesy of Oliver Rogers)

This is an exceptional turkey vest for a minimalist-type run-and-gun hunter who likes to move a lot without being encumbered. It has a very ergonomic fit and weighs less than three pounds on its own. Still, despite its slim and slender appearance, it has quite a bit of storage for all your turkey-hunting essentials.

The vest has a molded clamshell pocket with a magnetic closure that keeps two pot calls dry in divided sleeves and holds three diaphragm calls in easy-access slots. It also has a separate water-resistant pocket that snugly holds a box call to prevent unwanted noise. Meanwhile, right- and left-side pockets safely store four different strikers. There are three internal mesh zippered pockets, a larger zippered back pocket compatible with hydration bladders and an open-top outside pocket that can store rain gear.

While the well-designed pockets are great, I also really like the removable dual-density foam seat, which easily deploys and cinches tightly back up in a single movement courtesy of straps on the vest’s back. It’s the ultimate run-and-gun design, holding firmly in place when you need it to while you’re on the move yet flipping down quickly when necessary. The vest also has an adjustable strap system that lets it fit hunters in sizes ranging from XS to XXL. This has been a great vest for me on a hunt down in Florida and in my own turkey hunting in Missouri. $249 | sitkagear.com

BOOTS

Danner Recurve (Mossy Oak Bottomland)

Danner Recurve hunting boots
Danner Recurve in Mossy Oak Bottomland. (Photo courtesy of Justin Brouillard)

I’ve worn the Danner Recurve boots on hunts across the foothills of Wyoming and Montana, the Pine Ridge area of Nebraska, the plains of South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas and in the Ozarks of my home state of Missouri. They’re one of my favorite pairs of non-insulated boots for any type of hunting where you’re unlikely to encounter snakes or thick brush or have to wade through a significant amount of water or marsh.

The 7-inch boot has a durable full-grain leather and nylon upper and a waterproof barrier that lets moisture escape but prevents water from coming into the boot. It has a Vibram rubberized EVA midsole that is cushioned but features a resilient design that won’t break down as easily as standard EVA materials. The boot also utilizes a removable Ortholite foot bed that offers cushioning and support and better heat dissipation and airflow due to its open-cell polyurethane construction. A nice bonus for turkey hunters is that in comes in Mossy Oak’s Original Bottomland camo. $230 | danner.com

LaCrosse Alpha Agility Snake Boots (NWTF Mossy Oak Obsession)

LaCrosse Alpha Agility Snake Boots
LaCrosse Alpha Agility Snake Boots. (Photo courtesy of Justin Brouillard)

As its name suggests, this boot is tailor-made for the fanged serpents many of us encounter in the warming spring turkey woods. To that end, they feature a flexible snake protection fabric (Snake Guard) between the liner (jersey knit) and the exterior (natural rubber over neoprene) of the boot. The liner is quick drying and moisture wicking, while the exterior offers a completely waterproof barrier.

While I’ve worn these boots down in Florida and back home in Missouri, I’ve been lucky enough not to need to test out their snake-protection capabilities. However, I can speak to their fit, comfort and use.

The 17-inch-tall waterproof boots are quite comfortable for large rubber boots. Perhaps this is due to LaCrosse’s Active Fit design and pairing the Agility outsole with a midsole constructed from a lightweight LXA compound that provides excellent rebound and cushion. The boot also has a handy kick-off heel plate to help with removal.

Turkey hunters should consider buying them in Mossy Oak Obsession camo, as a portion of every Alpha Agility Snake Boot purchased in that pattern will go to NWTF to support conservation. $220 | lacrossefootwear.com

Dryshod Destroyer Boot

Dryshod Destroyer Boot
Dryshod Destroyer Boot. (Photo courtesy of Dryshod)

This is a great pair of boots if you’re a turkey hunter who frequently ventures into areas of thick brush or brambles, or snake-infested areas. The fabric-backed 1.8 mil rubber exterior offer ample puncture protection from top to bottom, including being rated for snakes. The boots have an adjustable gusset to accommodate larger calves and those who like tucking their pants into their boots and, at 17 inches, are two inches taller than other Dryshod models for added protection.

A wicking airmesh lining with micro-dot perforations inside permits additional airflow to keep feet cool in hot temperatures. Meanwhile, an EVA cold-blocking midsole defends against cooler spring temperatures in the early season. Waterproof, insulated, grippy and comfortable, this boot offers a lot for the price. I’ve worn it in Louisiana and Missouri, and I’ve found it to be a solid choice. $204.95 | dryshodusa.com

CLOTHING

Sitka Gear Equinox Guard Collection

Sitka Gear Equinox Guard apparel
Sitka Gear Equinox Guard Collection. (Photo courtesy of Oliver Rogers)

Technically, this includes three separate pieces—a hoody, a pair of pants and gloves—but it all kind of functions as a unit. Sitka’s Equinox Guard line constitutes a unique system that prevents contact with insects such as ticks, mosquitos, flies, ants, chiggers and even midges. Dealing with these sorts of bugs in an inherent part of most turkey hunting adventures. And with tick-borne diseases growing in frequency and range—as well as the ever-present annoyance of dealing with chiggers, tiny no-see-ums and mosquito bites—an effective means of dealing with insects is a crucial piece of turkey gear.

The new Equinox Guard products from Sitka accomplish this through both physical and chemical means. On the physical front, the clothing is designed firstly to limit skin exposure—i.e., covering as much of your skin as possible—and secondly to prevent insect bites from penetrating the fabric. In the pants, internal leg gaiters tucked into your socks prevent insects (especially ticks and chiggers) from accessing your skin. The long tail of the hoody, meanwhile, helps ensure it can be effectively tucked into the pants, preventing access there as well. On the other hand, the tightly knit stretch fabric of the clothing (Sitka tested many types during the development process) greatly reduces the ability of mosquitos to penetrate to the skin.

On the chemical side, garments feature Sitka’s built-in Insect Shield technology. A permethrin layer is applied to the clothing at an extremely high temperature, and it remains for the life of the garment (at least 70 washes). It’s also completely scent-free for those folks who intend to use them during early season fall hunts as well.

I first hunted with the Equinox Guard line in insect-rich central Florida, and every piece of clothing performed great there and on hunts since then. The lightweight material on all garments is comfortable, breathable and, best of all, offers protection from annoying insect bites and more concerning tick- and mosquito-borne diseases. $149/hoody, $249/pant and $50/gloves | sitkagear.com

Nomad Stretch Lite Pant and 1/4 Zip Pursuit

Nomad 1/4 Zip Pursuit and Stretch Lite Pant
Nomad 1/4 Zip Pursuit top and Stretch Lite Pant. (Photos courtesy of Nomad)

This combination is a solid warm-weather setup on spring turkey hunts. With its lightweight (100 percent polyester), quick-drying 4-way stretch construction, the Stretch Lite Pant is always super comfortable, even in the strange off-the-cuff sitting positions you may encounter in the field. It also has a gusseted crotch area to give you a bit more room and comfort and articulated knees give you more range of motion where needed.

The 1/4 Zip Pursuit is a breathable lightweight crew neck long-sleeved shirt that is great as a layer on cooler mornings or perfect as a standalone top on hot days. The garment offers UVA and UVB protection, is stain resistant and has anti-microbial treatments to require less frequent washing. $100/pant and $50/top | nomadoutdoor.com

First Lite Catalyst Soft Shell Jacket, Origin Hoody and Corrugate Foundry Pant

First Lite Catalyst turkey gear
First Lite Catalyst turkey gear. (Photo by Drew Warden)

If most of your turkey hunts take place in the Great Plains or points west of there, give First Lite’s Catalyst Soft Shell Jacket, Origin Hoody and Corrugate Foundry Pant a look. Apart from the solid colors, most of the camo patterns for these three garments lean decidedly Western. That said, both are quality pieces of gear that hold up well to sun and wind and anything else you might throw at them over the course of a turkey hunt.

The jacket features an interior fleece lining, while the exterior is a durable water-resistant (DWR) material. It’s got a great fit that flexes with your movement, and it is exceptionally quiet in the field. The hoody is fleece-lined, temperature regulating and odor-resistant, and it has a discreetly built-in facemask. It’s a versatile layer or stand-alone piece perfect for spring turkey hunting.

Meanwhile, the pants are super rugged, even featuring low-profile removable closed-cell foam knee pads, which I greatly appreciated when crawling on all fours to peer over a ridgetop while moving on a bird in Nebraska’s Pine Ridge region. Both the seat and the knees on the pants have been designed with a two-layer waterproof membrane to boost comfort and keep dry in wet conditions. Overall, it’s a great pant perfect for a wide variety of uses, including turkey hunting. $240/jacket and $205/pant | firstlite.com

MAPPING APPS

OnX Hunt

OnX Hunt App
OnX Hunt App. (Photo by Drew Warden)

I’ve used the onX Hunt app on a variety of hunts across the country, and it’s been a powerful and useful tool on every one of them, including several turkey hunts. The app does an especially great job of delineating property lines and public land boundaries, which is critical if you want to hunt public land effectively (and legally). Through the onX Hunt app, you can also see ownership information on private parcels, a key concern if you’re a freelancer seeking to gain hunting permission on a piece of property.

However, the app’s versatility goes far beyond this. For starters, it offers three different basemap options—satellite, topographical and hybrid maps—as well as a variety of map tools, such as the ability to create waypoints, line-drawing tools to measure distances and area, and a tracking function that ensures you never get lost. In addition to the 2D basemaps, onX is now also offering 3D maps, which allow you to more clearly see the lay of the land and understand how animals might navigate terrain features. The line tool is great for measuring distance to a landmark or a key area (like a potential roosting site). Meanwhile the area shape feature shines for calculating the size of a planned (or existing) food plot or parts of public lands you plan to hunt.

There are host of different map layers on the app, too. I won’t cover them all, but some key ones include various public lands layers (state walk-in areas, national forests, etc.), a private land layer, layers that show timber cuts, layers document known trails and even some that highlight certain types of acorn producing trees. Add in the ability to download maps to work offline and you soon realize that the onX Hunt app puts a lot of power in the palm of your hand. $29.99 per year/Premium Membership (single state land ownership maps) or $99.99 per year/Elite Membership (nationwide land ownership maps and Canada hunting maps) | onxmaps.com

HuntStand Pro

HuntStand Pro App
HuntStand Pro App. (Photo courtesy of HuntStand)

Another great mapping app to consider is HuntStand Pro. It too does an excellent job of showcasing public and private land boundaries and ownership information nationwide. You can actually even search for a specific property based on owner name, address, county, acreage and more. It also has loads of different basemaps (like a 3D map) and map layer options, including some unique choices like the "Monthly Satellite" and "Crop History" layers. The former offers more current satellite imagery than what is often provided (sometimes years old), while the latter showcases what types of crops have historically been planted in an area.

This app similarly has mapping aids, such as a line tool to measure distance and a shape feature to measure areas. These are great for measuring shot windows for an existing or potential stand and for planning seed and fertilizer amounts for food plots.

One of the main differences, in my opinion, between this app and similar ones is that you can create specific hunt areas. Instead of scrolling across a map, you can just click the dropdown, select the hunt area you want, and you’ll jump to that area where you have, ideally, already created waypoints for access and parking areas, pre-scouted roost tree sites, food plots, sign, etc. It’s especially great if you’re hunting with another person or a group that also has the HuntStand app, as you’re able to share entire hunt areas with other users rather than just individual waypoints.

Other unique capabilities include being able to integrate your maps with trail cameras that you have placed and coordinate hunting hours (if you’re on a shared lease or property) via a stand reservation system. And, of course, like other apps, you can download your maps to work offline in areas where cell signal is poor. $29.99 per year | huntstand.com

OPTICS

Bushnell RXS-250

Bushnell RXS-250
Bushnell RXS-250. (Photo by Drew Warden)

If I’m going to use an optic on a turkey gun, my choice would be a simple reflex sight. Bushnell’s RXS-250 is one of my favorites. It’s simple to use, with easily adjustable brightness settings (10 of them), and has an incredible 50,000-hour battery life. In the rare case where you do have to swap out a battery (a common CR2032), replacing it from the top is easy, and you won’t lose your zero. It also has a user-selectable auto-off timer, so it’ll automatically turn off after a period of inactivity.

With an aluminum housing that is dustproof and waterproof, the 4 MOA dot sight is a tough little optic that can stand up to plenty of abuse. I used one on a Merriam’s hunt out West, and after lugging it over hills and through dirt and dust, it worked just fine when I settled the dot just beneath the head of a mature gobbler at 40 yards. $249.99 | bushnell.com

Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10x42mm Binocular

Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide Binocular
Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10x42mm Binocular. (Photo courtesy of Leupold)

These may seem like overkill if you hunt in big timber country or vegetation-covered swamps, but they offer a nice mix of both a good field of view for tight areas and solid magnification for more wide-open spaces. Featuring Leupold’s Elite Optical System, these binos provide exceptional dawn-to-dusk light transmission for a bright, clear image no matter the time of day. The open-bridge roof-prism design is ergonomic and feels great in the hands, and the exterior has a nice textured grip.

Inside the binocular, you get a fully multi-coated lens system, including a hydrophobic lens coating and phase coating. The exterior coating, meanwhile, is Leupold’s Diamond Coat 2, which helps provide higher light transmission and excellent abrasion resistance.

I’ve taken a pair of these everywhere from the rolling foothills of Wyoming to the Hill Country of Texas and the forests of Kentucky. They’re durable and perform very well in varying levels of light and at an array of distances. $599.99 | leupold.com

Bushnell Bone Collector 850 LRF Rangefinder

Bushnell Bone Collector 850 Rangefinder
Bushnell Bone Collector 850 LRF Rangefinder. (Photo courtesy of Bushnell)

This is a handy, affordable rangefinder that is perfect for the turkey woods or just about any big game applications. It ranges out to 850 yards on a reflective target and has angle range compensation (ARC) technology to account for terrain angle and feed you the true horizontal distance.

It also has a 50 percent larger objective lens and an all-glass optical system to bring more light to your eye and, thus, a brighter image, even at dawn and dusk. Add in fully multi-coated optics with ultra-wide band coatings for bright, true-to-life colors a scan mode that updates range four times per second, and you have a potent scouting and rangefinding tool. $149.99 | bushnell.com

OTHER GEAR

Butler Creek Featherlight Sling

Butler Creek Featherlight Sling
Butler Creek Featherlight Sling. (Photo courtesy of Burtler Creek)

I used this sling to tote a turkey gun across the foothills of eastern Montana and never once felt fatigued or uncomfortable in my shoulder. This super-light sling is made from an industry-first lightweight foam, designed to make it about 45 percent lighter than a standard padded sling. Slots cut into the foam almost make it very breathable so it’s not as hot, especially on warmer hunts in late spring.

At the top of the sling, a large thumbhole helps you secure the sling on your shoulder while you’re traversing tough terrain. It's also adjustable from 22 to more than 36 inches long and is 3 inches wide. Overall, it’s a great sling if you’re a serious run-and-gun turkey hunter. $34.95 | butlercreek.com

Primos Rare Breed Call

Primos Rare Breed Pot Call. (Photo by Drew Warden)
Primos Rare Breed Pot Call. (Photo by Drew Warden)

This pot, offered with slate, glass or anodized aluminum surfaces, is a sweet-sounding call that lets you deliver a full range of turkey sounds. Use the outer edges to send out higher-pitched yelps, cuts and clucks, or scratch the middle of the call for lower, deeper tones.

The call fits easily in your hand in the woods and tucks away neatly into turkey vests when you’re ready to move. It comes with a solid one-piece striker and an abrasive pad. $32.99-$49.99 | primos.com

Buck Knives Buck 110 Hunter Sport

Buck Knives Buck 110 Hunter Sport knife
Buck Knives Buck 110 Hunter Sport. (Photo courtesy of Buck Knives)

The Buck 110 Hunter Sport possesses many of the classic 110 Folding Hunter but with a slimmer more lightweight design. It has a solid deep-carry pocket clip that keeps it retained well in a pants pocket when not in use and has a closed length of 4 7/8 inches.

To keep its weight down, the knife utilizes an anodized aluminum frame and olive drab green canvas Micarta handle scales. It has a 3 3/4-inch clip point S30V stainless steel blade that makes quick work of breasting out birds, and the knife’s dual thumb studs allow for easy one-handed opening. This folder is also a Lockback design, so it won’t close unless you truly mean for it to do so. It weighs just 4.6 ounces.$149.99 | buckknives.com

QuietKat Apex Pro E-Bike

QuietKat Apex Pro E-Bike
QuietKat Apex Pro E-Bike. (Photo courtesy of QuietKat)

Before I tried an e-bike specifically designed for hunting, I was skeptical of their relevancy for hunters. The e-bikes I was familiar with were commuter models tailored for paved roads and featuring rather dainty components ill-equipped to handle the terrain that hunters often encounter. When I got the opportunity to test out QuietKat’s 2021 model Apex e-bike on a spring turkey hunt in Illinois, I saw and experienced first-hand what a dedicated hunting e-bike could do.

The more recent Apex Pro model builds on the success of the earlier Apex e-bike. Billed as QuietKat’s most capable hunting and hauling e-bike, the Apex Pro utilizes a powerful 1000w motor and long-lasting 16Ah/48v battery that provides a range of between 24 and 48 miles, depending on how you’re using it. With the potent motor, all-terrain tires, premium 140mm inverted front suspension fork, heavy-duty Tektro 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes and 9-speed SRAM drivetrain, this bike can tackle steep inclines, muddy trails, rugged terrain, rocks and more. The bike also has a hauling capacity of 100 pounds, and you can buy accessory trailers for hauling out game or gear, whether it be a turkey or quartered meat from a larger animal.

Above all, a well-made hunting e-bike lets you cover more ground than you could on foot. You can scout a lot of ground more quietly than you could on an ATV or UTV. You can get to your blind or hunting area quicker than by foot, and in many cases, e-bikes can be used in areas where larger gas-powered vehicles cannot. They’re also a real benefit to hunters with mobility issues who still want to cover ground more quietly than they could with larger, louder vehicles. And, if you’re going to invest in an e-bike for hunting, you might as well start with a really good one in the Apex Pro. $5,499-$5,599 | quietkat.com

Tetra Hearing Turkey AmpPods

Tetra Hearing Turkey AmpPods
Tetra Hearing Turkey AmpPods. (Photo courtesy of Tetra)

Of all the pieces of gear I’ve mentioned so far, this is the only one I haven’t specifically tested myself. I have, however, hunted with Tetra’s AlphaShields for years, and they’ve become a piece of gear I take on every hunt, no matter the quarry.

Like the AlphaShields, Tetra’s Turkey AmpPods uses the company’s Specialized Target Optimization (STO) technology to isolate and enhance exact frequencies to improve your ability to hear specific sounds.

For the Turkey AmpPods, it will accentuate gobbles, clucks, purrs, etc., while keeping other sounds at normal levels. This way, you can hear turkey sounds from farther away and be better able to pinpoint the distance and direction from which they are coming.

To reduce the potential for hearing loss, the Turkey AmpPods also incorporate the same AlphaShield Compression technology found in the AlphaShields. The AmpPods will shut off instantly with a gunshot or other loud sound, suppressing the volume of a shot significantly compared to an open ear.

There are two levels of the Turkey AmpPods available—75 and 90. The more expensive 90-level AmpPods have a few more bells and whistles, like voice prompts when modes/volume settings, wind noise cancellation and a ClearComm program that accentuates human speech while minimizing other noises and distractions. However, either can benefit your turkey hunting greatly, and both run on common size 10 batteries. $849/75-level or $1,099/90-level | tetrahearing.com

MEAT! Butcher Knives

MEAT! Butcher Knives
MEAT! Butcher Knives

There’s perhaps no greater satisfaction for a hunter than breaking down a harvested animal and later cooking that meat to perfection. This is just as true for turkeys as it is for deer and other big game. This knife set from MEAT! certainly helps with the task.

Featuring a couple 6-inch boning knives, an 8-inch breaking knife, a sharpening tool and two larger 10-inch knives, you have everything you need to butcher a wide variety of game animals. All knives are made with high-grade stainless steel, feature full-tang construction and have slip-resistant handles. MEAT! also offers a handy waxed canvas and leather rollup for the knives (sold separately) for travel and storage for around $70.

I’ve used these knives to break down deer and birds, and they are great tools that any hunter would be proud to own. $109.99 | meatyourmaker.com




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