John's Journal...

A Successful Turkey Hunterís Checklist

Tools of the Trade

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 Click to enlargehunting through the first week of June. If you don’t already take this gear with you into the field, add it now. These tools make my turkey-hunting trips more fun and productive.

* Binoculars. I've spent hours crawling up on hens and jakes before, thinking they may have long beards. But a quality pair of compact binoculars has saved me hundreds of fruitless hours of trying to get in close to turkeys I really don't want to take, once I arrive at my destination.   

* A small, lightweight, inexpensive flashlight. Although I rarely use a flashlight going to a turkey, I always like to carry one with me to make sure I can see how to get all my gear together in the dark before I begin to hunt. I've also found that I'll need a flashlight if I drop my diaphragm calls or strikers for my friction calls or lose my mask or gloves. If you become lost in unfamiliar country, a flashlight will enable you to get found quickly. I know because I've done it. Bushnell’s HD Torch projects a perfectly square and uniform beam of light and produces 165 lumens of light for 1.5 hours with two 3-volt lithium batteries. Visit, Click to enlargeor call 1-800-423-3537.


* A hand-held GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver. I hunt turkeys all over the nation. Almost every morning I'll have to leave before daylight to hunt where I've never hunted previously. I'll use my GPS receiver to mark the spot where the others drop me off. Then no matter where my turkey hunting takes me that day, I always can return to the pick-up point. A GPS receiver also tells me: which direction I'm traveling; how far I must travel to reach the pick-up point; which route is the most direct to the pick-up point; how to get back to where I've heard a turkey gobbling the day before; and other important information.    Click to enlarge

* A wide variety of turkey calls. I'll take slates, boxes, pushbutton box calls, diaphragm calls and any other kind of call with me that I think will make a turkey gobble. If I'm hunting regions like wildlife-management areas or other public-hunting lands that have experienced intense hunting pressure, I'll primarily use my pushbutton call and a slate call. I believe most hunters use these calls the least, and many times if you can produce a sound that a turkey hasn't heard before, you can bring-in even the toughest gobblers.   

* A sharp knife that keeps its edge. I like a knife that will allow me to field dress a turkey quickly and easily where I take it to reduce the amount of weight I have to carry out of the woods and keep the bird fresher, longer.   

* A small, idiot-proof digital camera because turkey hunting means more than simply hunting and bagging a bird. You can build memories that last a lifetime by capturing the visual images of your life when you turkey hunt and photographing the people you hunt with and the turkeys you've taken where you've bagged them. If you don't have a camera with you, then you only go home with a dead bird and probably some short-lived memories after a successful turkey hunt.

Tomorrow: How to Keep Your Equipment Organized

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 4