Prep for Turkey Hunting
Dr. John Woods 03.30.20
All across the country in turkey woods and swamps from low Florida wetlands across the Eastern Turkey grounds to Merriam’s lands out west, gobbling action is picking up. It’s time to gather gear for the greatest of hunting’s challenges in chasing the great American wild turkey.
I fondly remember my very first turkey hunt in Northern Missouri just outside the little town of Kirksville, not far from the Iowa border. I slipped into a piece of dark timber before shadows were even cast by the pending sunrise. I was confident in my only turkey call, a wooden Lynch box I bought for $7 at Wal-Mart. I knew nothing about turkey hunting except for a couple articles read from a stack of barber shop outdoor magazines.
I perched against a huge white oak wider than I, and began to crank on that box issuing a series of something that must have sounded like a turkey hen in desperation. I heard not a single gobble. Within an hour I heard leaves rustle right behind me. Without knowing I sat up and peered around the tree. I got only a half-second glimpse of my first turkey gobbler with a beard as long as a paint can stir paddle. I can still remember that bird launching skyward and sailing off toward the sunrise. It took minutes for my pulse to slow down. That was 1973.
Since I have learned a lot more about turkeys, anbd one of the main things is to get everything laid out in advance and packed into my turkey hunting shoulder carry bag. Shotgun ready to go, with fresh oil on moving parts and a clean bore. Choke chosen and screwed in tight into my Remington 11-87. I pack five Federal turkey loads No.5s. The bag holds a facemask, gloves, “skeeter” dope, the old Lynch call, a Primos slate pot, a Woods Wise call, and a plastic mouth call box with several Preston Pittman calls.
For locating gobblers, there’s at least one owl call plus a shock peacock call. I take binoculars, pocket knife, a water bottle, limb clippers, a pack of cheese crackers, and maybe a cigar. I have a small package of wet wipes for hot days when the sweat trickles down into my eyes. They clean eyeglasses, too.
Sometimes I take a turkey seat cushion or one of the new fold-out turkey chairs. I always carry an old 5-panel fabric turkey blind with steel poles and at least two fold-up hen decoys.
So, rummage around and put your turkey bag together. It’s time to sneak into the woods for the season’s greatest challenge. Good luck.