So…it has come to this already. This blog, still in its infancy, has received its first fan mail, and to boot it is from someone who does not know me personally and someone that is not (I think) being ironic. Before I go any further, I will say “thank you” to this particular reader who emailed and asked me what gear I would recommend for a first time turkey hunter to pack in their vest. I can’t say I’m not a little flattered that a newbie would ask me for advice. It also still leaves me a bit stunned that people read this at all.
Since I’m not a self-professed expert, I’ll try not to screw this up. If you want to purchase any of the items I wear/use, I will include some links for each item with this, and future, posts on the subject of equipment. If you don’t want to purchase them, by all means don’t or you might end up like me with a vest full of goodies that you feel obligated to use regardless of how effective they are.
Let me begin by adding this good-natured disclaimer: I carry a tonne of gear into the woods so in the interest of making this as readable as possible, I’ll break this down into parts. Today I’ll talk about all the stuff I wear.
I do recommend a vest, although it is far from a mandatory item for any turkey hunter whether a beginner or expert. My father has never worn a vest and he has killed many a gobbler with nothing more than a fanny pack, a box call, some effort, and a shotgun. However, based on the question, I can assume the reader that contacted me already has one. For my money, I’ve tried on many turkey vests and found that the Primos Gobbler Vest was the best for me. Pros? It has a pocket for everything, fits well across the back (a must in my opinion), and has the comfiest seat of all the vests I tested out (also vitally important). Cons? It is a bit pricey (although not the most expensive on the market) and I found at first that it had too many pockets; so many that I forgot where I had placed certain valuable items, such as my license, left glove, and knife.
Prior to owning my current vest I started out with an entry-level model from Redhead. While it was more than sufficient; the only two knocks on it were that the seat was prone to getting soaked by dew and leaching into my pants (a quick blast of ScotchGuard took care of that problem) and the wide-mouthed pockets, while handy for digging around in, had a tendency to let certain items escape forever…such as my facemask and two (much needed) shotgun shells which all made a break for it when sun-dappled afternoon and were never subsequently recovered. Call them archaeological artifacts for future generations to discover.
For the entire spring turkey season I always carry the waterproof shell from my Remington 4-in-1 hunting jacket in a Realtree AP pattern. It is warm enough for any really unpleasant days, it keeps me dry (which is of paramount importance) and it has extra pockets, which are always helpful.
Weather in the
spring turkey season can run in extremes. I’ve been on opening weekend (read-late April) hunts that were hovering delicately in the near-freezing area and I’ve likewise been out on late May hunts that threatened to melt me, and vice-versa. 2010 was great for examples this wacky weather. In the first weekend of May 2010, I was lucky enough to experience five seasons (yes FIVE!) in one truly nightmarish Saturday of turkey hunting in the Ontario area. That day began in a clammy drizzle, calmed down a to dull-gray but reasonably warm mid-day, became a sunny and balmy double digit early afternoon just before turning into a freezing windstorm accompanied by three kinds of snow. With this in mind, I have gotten into the habit of wearing more than I need and then being able to strip down if necessary. Barrie
For most of the season I put on an Under Armour mid-weight base layer for hunts, and some polyester long underwear that breathes; this usually suits me fine for the morning hunts. If in the mid-day and into the afternoon I find things are getting too warm, I strip down to just my shirt and pants.
My shirt is a long-sleeved, breathable synthetic t-shirt from
in a basic, splotchy earth tones camouflage pattern. My pants are Redhead Stalker Lite in a Mossy Oak Breakup Pattern. Columbia
My boots are just plain old Redhead Bone Dry rubber boots boots from Bass Pro Shops in Mossy Oak Breakup and they were the last pair they had in stock and therefore a bargain. But best of all they’ve lasted twice as long as any other pair of more expensive rubber boots I’ve bought. Some folks I’ve talked to have had durability or blister complaints about Redhead boots, but to date, I’ve had no problem. I think the key, for blister control at least, is proper socks. I wear a light wool sock that comes up to my knee. They are snug enough not to slip, rub, and bunch up, warm enough for a cold morning and light enough so that I don’t sweat. In fact, they are my all-season, all-species hunting socks.
To round out the look I have a ‘ninja-style’ camouflage face mask and some mesh camouflage gloves. I like the ninja-style facemask because I wear glasses and they stay in place more consistently than they did when I used to have a ¾ style, elasticized, pull up/pull down kind of mask. I cut about half of the index finger off each glove so that I can better run my pot calls and pull the trigger, but other wise I don’t make any other modifications. I also wear a baseball cap in Realtree AP camo that my cousin had custom made for our hunting group of friends. It is also my lucky hat.
So that’s what I wear. Next week, I’ll post what I carry in terms of calls and equipment so if you’re still interested, then stay tuned.