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Basic Turkey Hunting – Part One – The Gear You Must Have
Let’s move on to the brass thumbtacks. What do you need to start turkey hunting and what are the tips that will allow you to hit the field with at least a chance of winning that gobbler? This article will detail the basic needs you will have for your hunt with a later article on scouting and field techniques to follow.
All the advice you’ll get from popular hunting magazines will only be of marginal use when you’ve spent a season seeing what it’s all about. It is very likely that once you have the opportunity to hunt these magnificent creatures, you will become addicted. Turkeys are in the midst of some of the most dramatic good news in conservation and your odds today are about as good as they’ve ever been, no matter where you are. In fact, there are turkeys that have now been located in areas where they have never been found before.
So what do you need for the spring turkey season? The basics of turkey hunting are indeed basic. Your chances will be greatly increased if you use full camouflage. Turkeys have two basic senses which are amazing; sight and hearing. When I say you’ll need full camouflage, I mean head to toe. You need a camo hat and mask, or if you don’t want a mask, get some face paint designed for turkey hunting. Personally, I prefer the mask because the paint is very greasy and messy.
Obviously, you will need a gun to hunt turkeys. There are different regulations on this, so I’ll defer to local gun shops and your registry. I will say that a cheap 12 gauge shotgun that holds 3 inch shells with a full choke is a good starting point in most places. You will need to model your shotgun at 30-40 yards to get a feel for how it shoots and maybe adjust the brand of shells or choke style accordingly. Typically, you’ll fire number 4 shells. A quick look in any of the department stores and you’ll see that there are shells that are advertised as turkey loads.
This is the best time to talk about security. Turkey hunting has inherent risks as you carry a loaded firearm, wear camouflage clothing and share the woods with other hunters. To make matters worse, you’ll probably use a turkey call of some type which can also get you in trouble. All I can say is that it is your responsibility to research all possible avenues to make your hunt safer. If you have not taken the hunter safety course, even though it is not mandatory, please do so. When walking in and out of the woods or on the move, wear fiery orange. Don’t throw a turkey over your shoulder and head out of the woods unless you have the flaming orange draped bird. If you use decoys, be aware that every year decoys get shot by dumb hunters and you could potentially be in the crosshairs. Sit with a good safety net like a big tree. These are just a few basic precautions. There’s more you can and should take.
You will probably use one of two types of turkey calls and maybe both. The two most common are box calls and mouth diaphragm calls. Both are excellent and have their purposes and you should familiarize yourself with each. Within the confines of this article, all I will say now is don’t overdo it. I firmly believe that calling is a skill that can only be learned on the pitch. Practice with your home calls and maybe get a video instruction DVD. I like mouth calls because they keep hands free and reduce movement, but I use both.
These are the basics you will need for your hunt. Next time we’ll talk about the basics of where to go and what to do once there. Remember, safety first! Then I believe as you prepare to embark on a journey that whether you will catch a bird or not, you will find immensely rewarding.
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