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Every turkey-hunting vest contains the old standards, staples, and standbys. Turkey calls. Locator calls. Decoys. Saw, snips, or both. Extra shotgun shells. A headlamp. Gloves and a facemask. Camo fabric for a makeshift blind. Seating. Mosquito control. Water. Snacks.
You can get by with these vest basics. But since you’re lugging the whole thing around anyway, why not add a few items from the following list and make your turkey vest work even harder to lead you to a successful hunt?
After putting a bird to bed, use glow tacks to mark your path out so you can come right back to the specific setup tree you’ve selected. Works better than a GPS.
Stow a couple of energy drinks in your vest to help you go the extra mile during those midday lulls.
Fill a sturdy quart-size ziplock bag with small essentials that will make a big difference in your personal comfort. Possible items include sunscreen, lip balm, aspirin or pain killers, tissues, sanitary wipes (multiple uses), and adhesive bandages.
Keep the gun up longer, and with less shaking, with a monopod such as Hunter Specialties’ V-Pod Shooting Stick. ($30; hunterspec.com)
Stuff an airline-style neck pillow in your vest to set up for a peaceful slumber—and wake up to a gobbler in range. Sometimes an extra hour gets the bird.
Sometimes you need something odd to get a gobbler to sound off. I once hunted a gang of Black Hills toms that would only gobble at a peacock yodel. Throw a goose or mallard call in your vest and honk or quack it up. Sandhill crane squawks work great—try Haydel’s CC-07 Compensator Crane Call. ($25; haydels.com)
It’s amazing what a change of socks can do for your attitude if you’ve stepped in a creek or really sweated up your feet.
Hear faint, distant gobbles—or the crunch of leaves from a gobbler at 100 yards—with a hearing enhancer. I use the Electronic Shooter Protection (ESP) Elite Classic Unit. Less expensive, quality devices are also available. ($900, espamerica.com; gsmoutdoors.com)
There’s nothing worse than the heebie-jeebies you get when you feel a tick crawling on you. Carry a can of repellent and thoroughly douse your clothing the day before a hunt—and your setup tree before settling in.
Morels are a turkey hunter’s bonus harvest. Mesh bags allow spores to spread so you can take home another morel harvest next year. ($18; morelmushroomsupply.com)