Hunting Turkey Hunting

Rethink Your Turkey Vest

Ten items you've never thought to carry – but should
turkey vest
Load your turkey vest with everything you never knew you needed. Patrick "Buzz" Hayes

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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?

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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.

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Stow a couple of energy drinks in your vest to help you go the extra mile during those midday lulls.

medical kit
Personal kit. Outdoor Life


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.

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Keep the gun up longer, and with less shaking, with a monopod such as Hunter Specialties’ V-Pod Shooting Stick. ($30;

Neck pillow
Neck pillow. Outdoor Life


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.

locator call
Locator call. Outdoor Life


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;

spare socks
Spare socks. Outdoor Life


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.

hearing assistance
Hearing assistance. Outdoor Life


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,;

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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.

mushroom bag
Mushroom bag. Outdoor Life


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;