LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015
With all of the annual turkey content posting up from our various writers I couldn’t help but think about the gear that would be going afield with me to chase gobblers in a few short weeks. And, while turkey hunting doesn’t necessarily require the amount of gear that say, a November rut hunt would entail, there are plenty of items that every turkey bowhunter should not leave home without. So, with that thought in mind, here are some of those “must have” items (along with a few extras) that I will be taking into the turkey woods with me this spring.
Bagging a turkey, especially with archery equipment, might be one of the hardest things a hunter can attempt. As a result, the ill-prepared hunter usually fails at killing one of these elusive creatures.
Hoot Owl Locator Call
This call is great for locating birds in the early morning hours or late in the evening when you are trying to “roost” gobblers for the next day’s hunt. It doesn’t take much skill to use a hoot owl call. In fact, they may be the easiest of the calls to use. One good thing about this particular item is that if you do happen to leave it at home you can almost mimic the real thing using just your mouth. A hot bird will gobble at the sound of a slamming door so any resemblance to a real owl will probably do the trick. My particular model is the Hooter Owl Call by Hunter’s Specialties.
There are a variety of locator calls on the market. When choosing yours, go for the simplest design you can find.
Primos Bombshell Turkey Call
This neat little call is perfect for guys like me who can make a “purring” sound on a slate but have trouble producing the same sound using a diaphragm call. The Bombshell can be strapped to your arm, leg or any other location that makes it easy to reach and operate. Simply push down slowly on the top of the call to produce the perfect purr. The call is also good at producing clucks, cackles and cuts. The thing I like best about this call is the minimum amount of movement it takes to operate it. This is very important when a turkey comes in close to bow range and all you need a few extra steps for a clean kill. Minimal movement when operating a call will definitely increase your chances of success.
The Bombshell allows calling with minimal hand movement. It can even be rigged up with a string and placed at a distance from the hunter.
Primos Hacked Off Turkey Calls
Primos has taken the design of their medium frame mouth calls one step further this year with a pair of mouth calls that can be customized to fit your particular palate. Simply place the call in your mouth and test the size. Remove and trim along cut lines (if necessary) until the desired fit is reached. The call is designed to help users achieve a more perfect fit to the roof of their mouth which creates a tighter seal and increases the amount of airflow over the reeds. This allows you (and me) to be a better turkey caller. I personally tested these calls and have to say that they were perfect out of the box for me so no trimming was needed. However, it is nice to know that I can trim them for the perfect fit.
The Sawtooth model allows for a higher pitch and clean yelps. It comes with a Triple Reed Design and a medium frame. The Buzz Cut model emits a softer, raspier yelp and crisp cuts. It also carries a Triple Reed design and a medium frame.
Knight and Hale Bad Company Diaphragm Set
This new call from legendary call makers Knight and Hale includes 3 different calls; The Black Mamba, the Cranky Hen and the Magic Moon Cutter. I love the black carrying case; maybe that’s because it reminds me of a bad habit I once had. Either way, it’s a neat, compact way of keeping these three deadly calls together.
Knight and Hale offer a cool 3-piece set that is sure to fit a variety of hunting situations.
The Black Mamba is a very unique cut call designed to give the hunter a very user-friendly call. However, it is a call that will still bark out raspy deep turkey sounds when needed. Knight & Hale call it the viper combo cut and it gives you the best of a v-cut style as well as a cutter cut style. The Black Mamba is made with a custom-blended black latex .004 top reed and two .025 green latex bottom reeds.
The Magic Mooncutter was in the Knight & Hale line for years under the Ultimate Series and it is back by popular demand. It is produced in its original style using custom-blended yellow .003 latex and boasts Harold Knight’s exclusive moon cut design.
The Cranky Hen was designed by Chris Parrish to give the hunter an ultimate competition style call. It is designed with a modified bat wing cut using a custom-blended gray .004 top reed and two clear .025 Proph bottom reeds. The reeds are set back in the frame in order to allow the caller the ability to call with the lightest of air and achieve the boldest of sound; both with maximum control.
Knight and Hale Slate Calls
Nothing beats a good slate call and it is perhaps the first call many first-time turkey hunters learn to master. This year I’m using two new slate calls. First is the he Scarlet Fever. It features a pot made of select walnut wood that is kiln dried to 8% moisture in order to eliminate any inconsistencies in the wood. The Scarlet Fever is also CNC Machined and is set with a slate sound board to insure rich, pure tones. Top this all off with a crystal surface and a custom two piece striker and you’ve got one great call.
You can never have too many slate calls in your bag of trick; especially an all-weather model.
The other slate in my bag is the Knight & Hale Stranglehold Pot Call. It was designed off of the Knight & Hale Long spur pot call. However, this year Knight & Hale thickened the post base to add depth and rasp to the call. The Stranglehold call is topped with a pure crystal surface and matched with a power tip, all-weather striker. This is a vital feature for those wet mornings when you run a high risk of getting your slate wet. With the Stranglehold the hunt will go on….even when wet. Also, the crystal adds rasp and depth to the call like no other surface can.
Mathews Creed XS
As a Mathews Pro-Staff member I’m blessed to have the opportunity to shoot the company’s flagship bow and this year’s model might just be the most impressive yet. The Creed XS is very smooth, emits barley a whisper and next to nothing vibration at the shot. Not to mention it is accurate….deadly accurate! Honestly, this bow is quickly becoming my favorite of all time. It will allow me to get drawn on those spring gobblers without a lot of extra movement to break over the cams, and once at full, the arrow is going to hit its mark. Test-drive one for yourself and see if you don’t think it is one of, if not the, best Mathews ever.
No matter what bow you choose to chase turkey with, make sure it is smooth drawing and deadly accurate. Otherwise, what’s the point?
I hunt a lot of hilly terrain. Chasing turkey in this condition requires a great deal of physical fitness. It’s much easier in the early morning hours when the temperature is low. However, the further into the day the hunt goes, the hotter and tougher it gets. Staying hydrated and energized is vital to getting close to a late-morning bird. Enter ENERGICE. It provides the perfect Isotonic Blend of B-Vitamins; B3, B5, B6 and B12. These are water-soluble vitamins that play a critical role in metabolism. The B-Vitamins help the body metabolize and obtain energy from fats, carbohydrates and proteins and are also essential in maintaining a healthy nervous system. The best part of this energy supplement is that it works either in frozen or liquid form; not to mention it takes up hardly any room in my pack. For more info on this new product visit energice.com
Run and gun turkey hunting requires a lot of energy. Make sure you have supplemental “fuel” to get you through those tough hours of the hunt.
Epic HD Action Camera
The big thing today is capturing the hunt on film and there are a variety of methods to do so. Myself, and all of the guys on the Bowhunt or Die webcast show choose the EPIC camera. It is a wear and mount anywhere digital video HD camera. Its compact size, ease of use and multiple mounting attachments make it an ideal camera for capturing video from a variety of unique perspectives. I like to mount my using the Insane Archery Camera Mounting System.
Capture your hunt with an easy to use, wireless remote controlled POV camera like the EPIC.
NAP Spitfire Gobbler Getter and Killzone Broadheads
When it comes to anchoring a gobbler with archery tackle think in terms of shock and devastation. Two broadheads that fit that description are the NAP Gobbler Getter and Killzone.
The aptly named Gobbler Getter comes from the Spitfire lineup, undoubtedly the most trusted name in mechanical broadheads, with one exception. The tip on the Gobbler Getter is rounded in order to provide maximum shock while (most often) keeping the arrow in the bird for faster recovery. I took two Kansas gobblers with this head and can personally vouch for its effectiveness.
While the Killzone may be thought of as primarily a whitetail head, The massive 2” cutting diameter is also bad medicine for strutting toms. The Killzone will undoubtedly create a devastating entry and exit wound for quicker recoveries.
While one is made specifically for turkey hunting, you really can’t go wrong with either of these broadheads.
This is a no-brainer. I’ve used the cheapest models out there and I’ve used some pretty expensive ones. Honestly, a hot bird would come in to a card board cut out if it was in the right place. In my bag you will find the Flextone Funky Chicken, a Jake and a hen decoy. The Funky Chicken’s body is an abnormal shape which triggers aggressive behaviors within gobblers in the spring mating season. Basically, he’s designed to resemble the skinny wimpy kid that every other turkey knows they can beat up. Poor fellow.
Without one of these you’re going to have a hard time closing the deal on a spring bird.
Carbon Express Mayhem Arrow
I’ve been testing these arrows for a few weeks now (I always like trying new gear) and so far I’m impressed with their performance. The bottom line is shoot the most accurate arrows you can afford out of your setup. Consistently, Carbon Express has been those arrows for me. And no, not because they are a sponsor.
Accurate shooting arrows are a must no matter what game you’re chasing. Turkeys are wary and smaller; making pinpoint accuracy a must if you want to fill your tag. Therefore, choose your ammunition wisely.
Every hunter is different and one of the best parts of bowhunting is the tremendous amount of gear available. The list above is simply that…a list…my list. Your list might be different. It might be the same. Either way, I would love to hear what will be accompanying you into the woods this spring. Better yet, let me know if you have a favorite item not listed here. I purposely left a few out just to see if anyone includes it in their list. Best of luck this turkey season!