John's Journal...

A Successful Turkey Hunterís Checklist

What You Need to Stay Comfortable

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: I've hunted turkeys for more than 30 years. I consider myself somewhat of an expert, not because I know all about turkey hunting, but because I've made every mistake a hunter can make at least twice. While turkey hunting, I've learned first-hand what won't work, and what equipment you must have for success afield. This week, I’ll share my checklist with you and discuss why each item is essential to take make my hunt much-more successful and comfortable. I keep all my equipment packed in my turkey vest and my hunting pack throughout the season, adding and subtracting items as I use them. Then I know I'm ready to attack the day more confidently when I hear that first gobbler talk to the tall timbers at the christening of a new day. Turkey hunting continues through May in more than 30 states and 2 Canadian provinces, and Maine has turkey hunting through the first week of June. If you don’t already take this gear with you into the field, add it now. Turkey season is often wet, as it’s been this spring.  A comfortable, dry hunt is always better than a wet one. Click to enlarge

* Two rainsuits. I always pack a lightweight, quiet, fleece-type rainsuit for me and some type of lightweight, compact rainsuit for a buddy. When I've been in rainstorms before, I feel bad when I've put on my nice rainsuit, while my hunting buddy, who's forgotten his, gets drenched. Having that extra rainsuit insures that my hunting companion and I both have enjoyable hunts and stay with a turkey when we pinpoint his position.   

* Insect repellant or a ThermaCELL. Turkey hunting exposes you to mosquitoes, redbugs, ticks, horse flies and other springtime bugs that will find a way to bite you or make you want to swat them – just when a turkey is coming toward you. Insect repellant or a ThermaCELL will help you sit still when a turkey comes close. Go to to learn more.

* Lightweight, wicking underwear. I wear long underwear during turkey season, regardless of the weather conditions. Most mornings, before daylight, the underwear feels good in the somewhat cool weather you may have during turkey season. But even later in the day when the temperature climbs higher, because that long underwear wicks moisture away from my skin, I can stay cool in the warm weather. Besides if I get too warm, I always can take the underwear off.   Click to enlarge

* Lightweight waders. I always carry a pair of inexpensive, lightweight waders and a cheap pair of tennis shoes in the back of my hunting vest or day pack. I've often had to wade streams and cross creeks to get to within calling distance of a gobbler without waders in the spring, and then I've had to hunt all day while wet. I prefer to carry the small amount of extra weight that the waders and tennis shoes add to my pack. Then I know I can cross most streams and hunt dry throughout the day.   

* Chemical handwarmers. You may fall into a creek and need to warm-up. A small, lightweight chemical handwarmer that will give off heat for 6 to 12 hours can make a tremendous difference in your ability to stay in the woods and continue to hunt toms if you’re get wet or cold.   

* Polypropylene sock liners. Because a turkey hunter lives and dies on his feet, having dry feet because of these sock liners means he can pursue tough turkeys with greater comfort and increase his ability to stay afield longer.   

* The best pair of innersoles you can buy for your boots. I'll go to an athletic shoe store to fiClick to enlargend the highest quality shoe innersoles like those long-distance runners wear. Casual hunters don't spend as much time walking and calling as a turkey hunter does. If the toms don't gobble, and you have to cover a large amount of land to pinpoint a turkey that will talk, the better your feet feel, the more ground you can cover comfortably. I want as much padding and support as I can have between me and the ground to enable to hunt the most efficiently for a half day or allday. Too, if you live in a state that permits hunting only until noon, you can leave your gun in the car after a day's hunt and spend the afternoon scouting for gobblers for the following day's hunt, when you wear boots with quality innersoles.   

* A sleep machine and or Radians’ custom-made earplugs. If you go to turkey camps and have to room with someone who snores all night, you can't get the sleep you need to hunt effectively the next day. I've roomed with individuals before who've snored so hard they've loosened the putty in the window panes. A battery-operated sleep machine that sounds like rain, ocean waves or a train will help you sleep. But my favorite sleep aid is custom-made earplugs from Radians that will reduce noise by 26 decibels and average snoring is 30 decibels. Go to and click ‘Radians Earplugs.’    

* A water bottle. I always carry a pint or a quart water bottle with me, even if I only plan to hunt half a day. A good drink of water at the right time can make your hunt easier.   

Tomorrow: Tools of the Trade

Check back each day this week for more about "A Successful Turkey Hunterís Checklist"

Day 1: Even the Best Hunter Needs a Checklist
Day 2: Equipment for the Shot
Day 3: What You Need to Stay Comfortable
Day 4: Tools of the Trade
Day 5: How to Keep Your Equipment Organized


Entry 509, Day 3