Gear Up for Turkeys

Preparedness and patience are the secrets to successful turkey hunting. Sure, calling skills and a well-patterned shotgun are very important. But without a fully outfitted and well-organized turkey vest, even the best callers and the finest shots simply aren't going to notch their tags. So how should you get ready for opening day? Here are a few tips.

INVEST IN A VEST: A well-appointed turkey vest lets you keep everything you need close at hand. With a little pre season practice, you'll be able to find any item in your vest without turning your head or making a lot of unnecessary movement.

SPARE GLOVES AND HEADNET: Take along two pairs of gloves, two hats and two headnets. Why two of each? These items are light and take up very little space, and you're bound to lose something along the way. Or your hunting buddy will need a spare. Any preseason shooting and calling practice should be done while wearing all three so you become accustomed to the feel.

MULTIPLE CALLS: Only take along calls with which you've practiced and are confident. If diaphragms are your thing, take several models with different reed configurations.

If you prefer pot-style calls, carry several strikers. Tonal var iations and weather conditions (rain and wood don't mix) are one reason. Another is that strikers, like headnets and gloves, tend to disappear.

If you use a box call, invest in a neoprene or cordura nylon holster to keep your favorite scratch box hidden, handy and dry.

THE RIGHT AMMO: Just because your shotgun is chambered for gargantuan 3½ -inch shells doesn't mean they're the best performers. Maybe your gun works best with 2¾ -inch hulls out of a full choke. Or 3-inchers out of a modified/full. Hit the range now to find out.

PORTABLE BLIND, CLIPPERS: If a lightweight blind hides your fidgeting and keeps you in the field longer, use it. A small set of clippers can open up a shooting lane, and you can use what you cut as a natural blind.

FOOD AND WATER: Granola bars or a PB&J and a bottle of water will let you hunt beyond midday without the hungries setting in. Folks in the field kill gobblers; those sitting at home eating hot sandwiches and contemplating a nap in the recliner don't.

BINOCULAR: A good binocular is indispensable for preseason scouting and invaluable for telling the difference between a black turkey-shaped stump and a black turkey-shaped turkey right after first light.

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Practice using your calls before taking them into the field. There's no sense hauling gear you won't use.