Are you ready to make your next turkey hunt the most successful one yet? Investing in the right turkey hunting gear can make all the difference when it comes to bagging your prized bird. Surprisingly, turkey hunting seems to have to lowest barrier of entry, meaning it’s easier to start than waterfowl, deer, bear, moose and so on.
In this article, you’ll learn about essential turkey hunting gear, tips for picking the right gear, and what accessories you shouldn’t leave home without. Don’t let another hunting season pass you by without the right gear for success – let’s get started and find the tools that will help you bag your turkey!
Discloure: Posts may contain affiliate links. Purchases made through our links result in a small commission to us at no charge to you. We only recommend products that meet our brand standards based on testing and first hand use by our authors.
- Shotgun Shells
- What is the Best Weapon for Wild Turkey Hunting?
- Turkey Calls
- Decoys and Blinds
- Camo Clothing
- Something to Sit On
- What Does A Beginner Turkey Hunter Need?
- Safety Gear and Tips
- Post Video
- Turkey Hunting Gear
- Purchase the Items in this Post
Hopefully you didn’t forget that turkey is a a bird… That means it’s time to dust off the shotgun and secure the right shells. Unlike waterfowl, we can get away with good old lead for this hunt . Ideally you’ll want a minimum 3″ shell. 3.5″ is even better, but be warned, it kicks both ways! You’ll want some power as they are a hearty bird. You’ll also want a full choke or even an extra full (turkey choke) if you want to add a little range.
The rule of thumb with turkey is if you are in some brush, go with a number 4 shot size. It’s more likely to get through. If in a field, use number 6, and you’ll have some more pellets to play with. A happy medium is #5 and what I use personally.
What is the Best Weapon for Wild Turkey Hunting?
Hands down, a shotgun is the most common, easy and most deadly weapon for the turkey hunter. It’s also why we start the post with shells – if you intend to harvest a bird, it’s the most important thing other than perhaps calling them in.
It should be noted that bows are legal for turkey hunting! That technically gives the turkey hunter two viable options. For anyone that doesn’t have a shotgun, or better yet, wants one but is waiting to get licensed for firearms, there is nothing stopping you from hunting turkey. I would say just use a bow and call them in closer. But then again, some bows are so good nowadays it helps bridge the gap between a bow and a gun!
The first time I hunted turkey was downright amazing – if you are a noobie, it’s highly suggested you hunt with someone who knows what they are doing, at least in the beginning!!! On my first hunt, we went out early morning, all camouflaged out, dropped a couple of decoys and sat by the tree line and brush cover. Right where the forest meets an open field.
As a noobie, you would think nothing is out there. But as my friend started calling, the responses started coming back within minutes. It’s amazing as the bird comes in and gets closer, the intensity and excitement get louder and bigger. It also directly relates to your adrenaline levels as it’s an experience like no other. The moral of the story is you don’t just sit there, you call your birds in! Knowing how to do that is pivotal to turkey hunting success. So let’s look at the different calls out there.
If you are a beginner, I would highly suggest starting with a box call. You can imitate a lot of clucks and purrs with these. The skills required are on the low side. Put bluntly, if you can’t figure this one out, then maybe turkey hunting is not for you. I use the Primos Shot Caller and Primos has an awesome video on how to use it.
Besides being the easiest to learn, the box call is the most likely to always work. I never go out without one.
A second call to get is a plate call. These will be either glass or slate. You’ll have the plate in one hand and a stick in the other, which you’ll use to make the sounds. This call is quite a bit harder and requires some practice. If you go this route, I highly suggest practicing long before you ever go out with it.
Anytime you are sitting around or watching tv, keep working away at it until your calling is on its A-game. Better yet, watch YouTube videos specifically on how to use these calls and try to replicate the techniques and sounds you see in the video. Quite often, the call manufacturers have their own channel with videos to teach you, as with the box call above – and there’s probably no better source to trust than the call maker.
The only thing to note is the weather. Sometimes you’ll go out in the bush and your call isn’t quite working the way it should. In other words, keep it dry and carry a backup call of some form if the plate becomes your go-to. Lastly, don’t forget to carry the sandpaper with you! These calls need to be scuffed to work and require periodic re-scuffing.
Mouth calls are amazing. Not only are the sounds incredible, but they also keep your hands free. A hunting buddy of mine is incredible at it and between the mouth and the plate calls, he can chat up a storm with the gobblers.
Just be warned, it’s the hardest call to learn. I gag easily and these calls are just not in the cards for me. If that sounds like you, don’t worry about it. While the mouth call is superior, you can still get away with the other calls. Some hunters even fashion together a small box call and a method of strapping it to their gun. This allows your hands to softly work the call for a purr as the turkey gets closer while having your gun at the ready. A case and point is the Quaker Boy Easy Yelper.
“Friend” or Guide Call
So you run out and buy some calls but you find yourself really struggling. And you really want to get out there to hunt!!! Now what? Find a friend or hire a guide.
I know many a successful turkey hunter that can’t call worth squat. They either don’t like it, can’t learn it or can’t be bothered because they hunt with a friend or family member who is great at it. And that’s perfectly fine as well. Hunting with a good partner is way better than being in the bush alone, at least in my mind.
If you are serious about turkey hunting and a friend is not an option, consider getting a guide! They will know the right location and proper techniques for your entire hunt, including calling! The odds of you harvesting a bird will skyrocket, and it’s a good investment in general. You won’t always need a guide either – guides are great if hunting in a location new to you or if you are new to hunting a specific animal and you could use the help.
Decoys and Blinds
After mastering the art of turkey calls, you need to create a realistic hunting environment to attract turkeys. Decoys are a hunter’s best friend in this regard. These life-like plastic or foam birds draw in turkeys while you conceal yourself in a blind (or brush with the extensive use of camo).
I use the Primos Lil’ Gobbstopper as the go-to. It’s the better of my decoys and I may toss a foam one into the mix as well.
Setting up a decoy rig involves strategically placing your decoys in a realistic turkey hen position to convince the bird that it’s safe to move in on your location. Your decoy birds should mimic the stance and appearance of a real turkey, including feathers, colours and height off the ground.
Similarly, a blind serves as a go-to hiding place to help you remain concealed while making the necessary adjustments for a shot. A well-placed blind helps you, the turkey hunter, to blend in with your surroundings and stay hidden from sight.
One crucial aspect of turkey hunting is blending in with your surroundings, and that’s where camo clothing comes in. The right camo pattern can help you disappear into the trees and brush, making turkeys less likely to spot you. With deer, you’ll hear hunters talk about smell. Turkey is mainly sight!
When choosing camo clothing, make sure to consider the terrain you’ll be hunting in. In the photo above, the pants and jacket are woodland camo which is ideal for a forest. It’s also military surplus and very affordable. The neck gaiter is from the waterfowl days but works well with the spring leaves, and I couldn’t tell you what pattern of Realtree the hat is. And it does not matter! You can mix and match camo, it’s sole purpose is to provide breakup and help you hide, which is apparent in the photo on the right. That photo was taken fairly close, but the camo patterns are already working.
Also, don’t forget to be mindful of the weather conditions. You don’t want to be sweating buckets in heavy camo when the weather is warm, nor should you freeze in light camo during a cold snap. It’s a challenging time of year, and temperature can fluctuate wildly throughout the day. Layers can be your best friend here, adding or shedding as needed.
A final consideration when it comes to camo or, better yet, let’s say, hunting clothing is noise. You don’t want to spook an animal because your clothing rustles too loudly. Look for camo clothing made from quiet materials that won’t give you away.
You’ll also notice turkey hunters may wear face coverings or neck gaiters, hats, gloves and so on. While camo provides breakup and helps you disappear, it’s doubly useful when hiding anything shiny – even if that’s your face or skin. If you look ready to engage in gorilla warfare, you’re probably ready to hide from this elusive bird!
What Not to Wear When Turkey Hunting?
Anything with shine! This is generally not an issue with camo clothes but do make sure nothing on you is shiny. Perhaps leave your watch at home or in your pocket and be careful with your accessories and gear. Ie. Don’t sip on your coffee from a shiny thermos as the birds come in closer.
Something to Sit On
Don’t forget to bring something to sit on! The forest floor can get quite wet or cold and you won’t be comfy for long. Most often I will just use the Heat-A-Seat by ThermaSeat. It’s small, light and can clip to a pack for a journey into the woods. Throw this on a log or stump and you should be good to go in a nice low position. Often, the simplest and budget friendly pieces of gear makes the most sense.
If you can get away with a chair, the go to hunting chair in our house is the Primos Double Bull. I LOVE this chair, in fact my family calls me the armchair hunter! I don’t now why, my chair has no arms:) But it is comfy and if using a blind, a chair is a must. It’s a portable outdoors chair so it doubles for camping and even finds a winter home in the garage by the woodstove. It’s an awesome chair if you can get one.
For turkey I think the ThermaSeat is better and some hunters may even balk at the idea of a chair. But some people out there may be older, not well or have physical impairments that prevents them from sitting on the ground. While you have to work harder to conceal it, if having that chair gets you out there than go for it.
Let’s not mention a weapon, that’s obvious. But do get the right shells and choke as it makes a wordly difference. You need a decoy or two (but can start with 1) and a couple of calls.
While it may be better or “standard procedure”, you certainly don’t NEED a blind! I’ve hunted waterfowl and turkey with seasoned pros and even a guide for that matter, NONE of which used a blind! Just make the best effort you can to camo yourself from head to toe and just get out there.
While this post is about getting the right gear for that next turkey hunt, the more you look at it you begin to realize that there really isn’t that much to get into turkey hunting.
Safety Gear and Tips
A hunter’s safety is of utmost importance when out in the field. We won’t get into firearms safety, that’s an entire post of its own and doubly, we’ll assume you already know these things considering you are licensed.
Do carry some earplugs! The standard tiny little earplugs are great and they don’t get in the way. Let’s be honest, no one likes PPE but the alternative is permanent hearing damage. Most of my hunting or shooting friends can’t hear well so please don’t skip this step! There are also the standard earmuffs, but nowadays many have a mic and speakers that can help you hear BETTER and cut the sound during shooting! For that I use the Walker’s Razor. So if you’re already getting deaf because you don’t like like PPE, there’s some fancy PPE to the rescue:)
Do remember NOT to wear red, white or blue which we covered but will cover again. And while that may seem silly to some considering the size difference between a human and a bird, remember that you don’t look so big from a distance! Also remember NEVER to follow or pursue a turkey call. It could be another hunter calling. The best thing for you to do is stay put where you are and try to sit so you have a big tree covering your back.
Finally, it’s recommended that hunters carry a first-aid kit with them at all times amongst other gear items for your pack. The further you head out, the more survival type items you may want to carry. Back to first aid, accidents can happen. That means a basic first-aid kit should include items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers. Emergency medical gear can get pretty cumbersome but it’s nice to at least carry a tourniquet anytime guns are involved.
We put a video out there covering much of this post on YouTube. It also elaborates on a some of the items covered in the post.
Turkey Hunting Gear
Whether you’re seasoned or new hunter, having the right turkey hunting gear is crucial to a successful hunt. Camo clothing, turkey hunting calls, decoys, and the right weapon and shells can and will make all the difference. Additionally, prioritizing safety by being mindful at all times of your actions and actually using your safety equipment.
Also don’t forget to check and know your regulations before you go hunting!
The right turkey hunting gear will increase your chances of a successful spring (or fall) turkey hunt. So gear up, head out, and enjoy the hunt! As the saying goes, “You can’t hit a turkey if you’re not out there.”