Feature Article: Gobble Gear

Gobble Gear

BY DURWOOD HOLLIS/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Mar 13, 2019

Right now is the time to prepare for spring turkey season

Just when everything associated with the annual fall/winter hunting season has finally concluded, the woods start to come alive with the sounds of spring. To many of us, the most significant song in the cacophony of spring is not a song at all, but one of a thundering resonance generating from the throat of a male wild turkey. This sound, well known to dedicated turkey hunters, marks the initial movement in a mating symphony that is designed to stir the reproductive hormones of the opposite gender.

bringingapairBRINGING A PAIR of gobblers to the call simultaneously is rare, but when it happens, things can get real interesting.

Sneaking up on a tom can be done, but it’s not the traditional way of putting a bird in the bag. Calling a sex-crazed tom bird to the gun is not only the most ethical approach, it’s also one of the most effective. However, no two days in the spring turkey woods are alike. Male turkey hormone levels rise and fall without any predictable signals. On any given day, a tom bird might come to the call without hesitation and present an easy shot. However, just a few hours later, he might hang up well beyond shooting range and stand his ground. Simply put, that’s why turkey hunting can be so frustrating at times. To become a successful turkey hunter, you’ll need to put together several different strategy and gear options.

Scouting: Well before the season starts, put time in the woods locating as many different flocks of turkeys as possible. The best way to find birds is to listen and look. Tom birds are usually quite vocal early in the morning, so listen intently and try to pinpoint the location(s) of any gobbling you hear. Avoid approaching too closely to the birds. Use the optical enhancement provided by a binocular to identify birds at a distance, thereby keeping your presence in the environment hidden from view. The effort that you put into early scouting can provide more than one hunting option, especially when hunting public land.

Guns and Ammo: Given the right ammo and reasonable target proximity, almost any gauge shotgun can put a turkey in the bag, However, for most prospective hunt­ers, the turkey game is best played with a .12-gauge gun. The reason behind such a choice is basically the size of the shell pellet load. The greater number of pellets you can place on the target, the better your chances of making a humane kill. That’s not to say that you can’t take a turkey with a .16- or 20-gauge gun — it all depends on both the shot distance and number of pellets you’re able to place on the head/neck region of the bird.

usingtherightUSING THE RIGHT shells for wild turkey is a necessary ingredient for a successful hunt. PHOTO by DURWOOD HOLLIS

Since hunting regulations demand that California hunters use non-toxic (no lead) shells, your choice of the right ammo is important. For the best results, look to premium non-toxic waterfowl loads in appropriate shot sizes. It doesn’t take large-size shot to kill a turkey. The key to effectively taking a bird is shot pellet impact, which dictates the use of smaller size pellets for enhanced kill power. The best way to see how well your own shotgun does the job is to pattern it on a turkey target. And the acquisition of an aftermarket turkey specific screw-in choke tube may provide a measure of shot target saturation improvement.

Apparel: It’s an accepted fact that if the turkey can’t see you, there’s a better chance of drawing the bird close enough for a killing shot. This means that complete camouflage is the dress of the day. There are lots of options in the arena, so choose one that works best for you. My own preference is a pull-on leafy covering that breaks up my human outline and blends in to the environment. In addition, gloves and a facemask are important to completely obscure my image. Also, remember that despite spring sunshine, early mornings can be extremely cold, so dress warm enough so you can stay on stand hours on end comfortably.

Calls and Decoys: Long before all of the current turkey hunting technology emerged, there were plenty of successful hunters who used nothing more than a simple cedar box or turkey wing call to bring gobblers to the gun. While such an approach still works, having more than one call option at your disposal, as well as a few realistic decoys can provide an enhanced measure of confidence and success. The key to calling is being able to switch to an alternative, should one type of call not produce the desired results. There are days when a cedar box call just can’t do the trick, so being able to change to a pot and striker, pushpin, or diaphragm call may change your luck. When it comes to decoys, remember that using more than one faux bird can be a real convincer.

All the Rest: Turkey hunting doesn’t take a lot of specialized gear, but there are a few other things that can make the hunt more enjoyable. In the spring there are lots of flying and crawling insects about, so using some type of repellent can prevent bothersome contact with biting bugs. Another factor to consider is that the ground can be damp with dew, making sitting directly thereon rather uncomfortable. The addition of some type of sit-upon to your field gear can keep your bottom dry and make extended periods in a blind more tolerable. Finally, a water bottle and something to munch on during your time on stand is always a good idea.

Turkey hunting is the ultimate upland game challenge. As such, it demands solid preparation and the right gear. If you want to be successful, due diligence is the name of the game. Start your preparations early and you’ll be ready when opening day dawns. Good luck!

WHEN IT ALL comes together, turkey dinner is on the menu.

THE CONCLUSION OF a successful hunt takes preparation, dedication and the right gear.

THIS LIGHTWEIGHT AND portable seat by Hunter Specialties is just the ticket to keep your bottom end dry and comfortable.

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