Gear > Other Gear

Geared Up & Down For Toms (Page 2)

One new piece of gear can be the difference, but collectively gear can complicate your hunt. Deciding which to bring and which to leave at home can be tough.

Slate Call: This is the sexiest sounding call and perhaps the most versatile. You can purr seductively, cutt aggressively, yelp longingly, cluck cluckingly and even putt on it. I don’t recommend putting on it often though, as golf is even more maddening than turkey hunting. A slate, or pot call, is easy to master and sounds very realistic. This go-to call has accounted for the mysterious disappearance of many a lonely tom. Put one in your vest pocket and frequently give it air.

Box Call: A great tool in the wind, its paddle provides leverage to bear down upon its two chalky tracks, providing ear-bleeding friction. It’s the loudest call commonly available, and it works great for calling in high winds or calling into places that require too much effort to venture. A word of warning about box calls: The sounds they make, like chalk boards, are naturally annoying to most people who do not religiously dress in camo—so practice only in designated areas.

Mouth Calls: In trained mouths a diaphragm call sounds as realistic as calls get—there’s something about a living being blowing air out of its mouth that makes the resulting noise sound alive. When I was younger, taller and my ears more keen, I believed I could tell the difference in any turkey caller and a real turkey, and with callers using slate and box calls I almost always can; however, I’d admit I’ve been fooled on in the woods by masters with mouth calls. But for every mouth-call master there is a legion of hacks who scare off more turkeys than they entice. (Believe me on this.) With much practice, eventually you’ll get a handle on your own mouth, and you’ll begin making sounds coherent to turkeys. Perhaps a mouth call’s biggest benefit is that it’s hands-free—you can practice in your truck and not get a ticket!

Owl Hooter: A hoot tube is loud, easy to use, and it’ll roust most sleeping gobblers. I think of it as a tom’s alarm clock: I hit the alarm, he hits the snooze until finally he flies down for a morning shower of No. 6’s. A blast from the old hoot horn is louder and carries farther than your voice, and unlike my outdated cupped-hand routine—it’s still good for impressing kids—you can use a hooter with one hand while wearing gloves and a mask.

Crow/Coyote Call: If the owl and the gobbler secretly swear to a pact of silence, don’t despair. The crow can’t keep his mouth shut to save the gobbler’s life. In yet tougher times, especially in the West, a coyote howler can shock a gobbler into revealing its position. If none of these work, try slamming a truck door at dusk before you drive home. That usually does the trick. If that doesn’t work, don’t cuss. I have scores of empirical evidence and documented proof that cussing turkeys does not do any good for filling your game bag, and may only make you feel better for a few fleeting seconds. 

Decoy: In certain scenarios—such as when a cagey bird won’t cross an open field without visual confirmation—a decoy is essential. Whenever I can’t get a bird to come in, I tell my friends that if I had a decoy the bird would have come in. I truly believe that, and as a fortunate by-product, that belief makes me feel good.

Gun Sling: Take a good look at the pictures in this story. You see a bunch of gear, don’t you? A shotgun sling will free up your hands so you can carry it all.

Flashlight/Headlamp: Until oak trees are mandated by the government to come with Braille plaques—and you learn Braille—a flashlight is a very handy tool indeed. A headlamp is even better because it allows you to find—and carry—all your other stuff.

Binocular:  Okay, maybe this item should be in the “gluttonous” category, but everytime I forget mine I wind up stalking buzzards. I don’t like buzzards.
Extra Strikers: I commonly lose my slate-call strikers in the woods. I think it’s because they look a lot like sticks. Finally I wised up and tied my striker to my slate call with a piece of string. Now if I lose a striker, I lose the call and the string. This forces me to be more mindful of my striker. For times when I lose the whole she-bang, however, I always keep a backup mouth call in my back pocket. If I lose my mouth call it means I’ve lost my backside. My momma told me this can’t happen.

Insect Repellant: Most times I go out, a swarm of small, winged insects hovers around my head like a stinging, buzzing raincloud. Ticks are bad enough, but a tick is a saint compared to the worst animal species on planet Earth: the silent, invisible, lowly, itchy and tender-part-be-derned chigger. If you’ve never seen one, it doesn’t mean they’re not plotting against you right now. Get some repellent, bathe in it and don’t worry about a thing … .  (Deet was suspected of causing cancer in lab rats, not turkey hunters.)

The Gluttonous
Clippers: They’re useful for pruning saplings from your line of fire, and can make your sit more comfortable, but a necessity? Nope.

Turkey Wings: Wings are only good for simulating a morning fly-down and for carrying. Use your knife to lop a leafy limb, use it once, then throw it down.

Box Lunch: C’mon, if a good breakfast or a donut and coffee won’t stave off starvation before noon, perhaps you’re walking too much. Try calling for a change.

The Ridiculous
Full-body Mounted Turkey Decoy: These things are hideously expensive, extremely difficult to pack, and, what could be tougher than eating a stuffed decoy if you shoot it by mistake? I’ll tell you what: keeping a straight face while urging your buddies to go for seconds on the turkey and stuffing.  

The Ultra-Ridiculous
Paid, Full-time Turkey Guide: These are great tools for getting you a turkey; every time I’ve been guided I believe I’ve shot a bird. But anyone can shoot a turkey; it’s hunting them that’s the challenge. Some of the best (and most ridiculous) turkey hunting experiences come from failure. If you’re new to turkey hunting, go back to the top of the list, gather up just the essentials and take to the woods. And for those of you who are turkey hunting fanatics … well, you’re ridiculous already.

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1 Response to Geared Up & Down For Toms (Page 2)

Michael wrote:
January 23, 2013

ummmmm, should we trust somebody that actually bought a "Turkey Whistle"?