It happened last Tuesday. I received a call from a fellow hunter who was all excited about watching 4 long bearded gobblers in his back yard scratching for whatever seeds or morsels they could find. He had been concerned about how they had been doing through the heavy snows and ice layers that were hindering them from having anything to eat this winter. Couple that with the warm spring-like temperatures this week and one cannot help but begin to daydream about the upcoming spring gobbler season! With that in mind, let’s take a look at the contents of your turkey vest and their condition.
While there are the standard calls, such as yelps, purrs, clucks and gobbles, individual birds will have a sound that will vary in pitch, tone and volume. To duplicate this variable, it is advisable to carry more than one kind of turkey call, and to also carry more than one of each type.
The standard box call is a must, and can produce any turkey sound you wish to make. But, additionally, for a slight variation, consider adding to your vest a “long box.” Generally 2 or 3 inches longer than the standard box call, it will produce a pitch and tone that varies from the standard call. It also can crank out a sound that will carry further than the standard call and can thus be used on windy days or to locate a bird at a greater distance.
Slate calls or pot calls are one of the easiest to master, and a pot call with a slate surface, as well as one with a glass surface are a must if you are going to offer a variation in sound to nearby turkeys. On a rainy day, the slate call will be rendered useless by any raindrops that land on its surface, but the glass surfaced pot call will be unaffected and thus a welcome addition to your vest when rain comes your way. Include several strikers for each pot call — each one will yield a slightly different pitch or tone, and you can never be sure which one will turn on a nearby gobbler. Offering a variety of pitch and tone is an important key to getting a gobbler to come your way.
Finally, the mouth call is also a must. They come in seemingly endless shapes and sizes and, while they are the most difficult to master, they will become the “go to” call that most turkey hunters will use — especially effective when you are trying to simulate multiple turkey sounds and using it simultaneously with a box or pot call to sound like numerous turkeys at once. Once a gobbler is coming your way and reaches a distance where he can be seen, the mouth call is essential, as you can now continue to produce turkey sounds without moving your hands, which is critical since turkeys have extremely keen eyesight. Any movement at all and that approaching old Tom will disappear! Carry several mouth calls so you can offer a variety of sounds to interested birds.
Pruning shears or handheld cutters are a must. They are essential to clear limbs and brush to create a clear shooting lane or remove unwanted brush where you will be sitting.
Individually slip each of your box or pot calls and strikers, as well as other items, into Ziploc bags to keep them clean and protected from rain. Stick a few extra of these bags in one of the vest pockets — they will come in handy for many uses. You will wish you had them if you come across some wild ramps, fern fiddleheads or morel mushrooms!
Waterproof matches and a whistle for signaling don’t take up any room or add any appreciable weight to a vest. None of us like to think that something negative will happen while we are spending time enjoying the out-of-doors, but it is important to have a few items such as these “just in case.”
A quick check now of the condition of the items in your vest will go a long way to avoiding a problem when you are out hunting this spring.