Turkey Hunting -Top 3 Gear Choices for Beginners

Turkey Hunting in Utah

Well, springtime here in Utah is just around the corner. For some this means nicer weather, rainstorms, and getting out of the winter funk. For others, it means to have the opportunity to get out in the woods and chase after turkey. There’s something about being in the turkey woods during the early spring. Maybe it’s the smell. Maybe it’s the sound of the birds chirping in the early morning hours. Or maybe it’s hearing that first gobble of the day echo through the trees. Whatever the reason, it makes for an exciting time in the turkey woods.

Turkey hunting has been around for a while in Utah. There are two sub-species here in Utah, the Rio Grande and the Merriam’s. There are two seasons to hunt turkey in the spring - the Limited Entry and the General Season that includes a youth hunt the first weekend. The Limited Entry runs the last couple weeks in April. The youth (hunters 17 years of age or younger) then has 3 days to hunt before the General Season runs for the month of May.

Hunting during the spring season can be exciting but very challenging. Utah wouldn’t be Utah if you didn’t experience all four seasons in a day. Depending on the day and where you’re hunting, you may have to deal with existing snow, mud, rain, or other obstacles Mother Nature may have in store for you. With all of that being said, you still can’t beat the time, experience, and the memories you get to have while in the woods. 

My intention of this article is to highlight what I would consider my Top-3 preferences for turkey gear to help someone wanting to start into chasing after turkey. Like trying anything for the first time, some really don’t want to break the bank before knowing if this is something they enjoy. These three items could be considered basic elements to get you started while still trying to be budget minded. Just keep in mind, what works for one may not work for another.

WHAT TO WEAR:

King's XKG Lone Peak Jacket

First up is clothing, more specifically camouflage. Turkeys have excellent eyesight. Therefore, you need to blend in like a camouflaged mountain ninja so they won’t see you and run away. There are a lot of different choices of camo out there that range in performance, quality, and price. I won’t get into all that because that could open up a big can of worms. But really, I feel that if you’re hidden, blend in with your surroundings, and hold still you should be ok. 

King's Camo XKG Transition Jacket

When trying to choose what will work for you, I would suggest that you do some research, shop around, and get what you can afford. Personally, I’ve been using Kings Camo in the Mountain Shadow pattern. This has worked great for me so far. The following is a list of the clothing I take with me when I go turkey hunting.

Like I said before, there’s a chance you may encounter different types of weather while out hunting. Depending on the weather forecast, I may leave a couple of these pieces of gear, like the rain gear, in the truck instead of packing them around with me. The weather can make a good hunt turn bad in a hurry, so be sure to do your research and be ready for what the weather in Utah may throw at you.

Turkey Mouth Calls

GOBBLES, YELPS, AND PURRS:

The second piece of gear I’d like to highlight are turkey calls. There are several different types of calls out there and they each have their purpose, and each have their advantages and disadvantages. The following is a list of the different types of calls.

Each of these have different levels of difficulty and may require more practice than others. I like to use two types of calls from this list – the diaphragm call and box call. The box call is pretty simple to use. In fact, it’s so easy my kids can use it and produce some good sounds. One thing I’d guess you could call a disadvantage is when using it, it does create movement. So, if you’re trying to be as still as possible, this may not be the best choice for when the bird is closing in. This is where the diaphragm call comes in to play. The only movement made to operate this type of call is with your mouth. There are different styles of diaphragm calls out there that create different tones. In the beginning, it may help to find a package that comes with more than one call. There are different call companies that offer these types of package deals such as Zink, Phelps, or Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls. If you’re worried about learning how to use turkey calls, don’t worry. Some of these companies offer instructional videos. If that isn’t an option, there are plenty of resources online and on YouTube. Just remember, the only way to improve is by doing. Be sure to look for those opportunities to practice.  

AvianX turkey decoys

FOOLED THEM:

The third piece of gear I’d like to highlight are turkey decoys. Decoys are essential at helping seal the deal with a big turkey. Decoys can send different signals and messages depending on what kind you have in your spread. For example, a tom or jake decoy may send the message to challenge the hot-tempered turkey or a hen decoy could make the incoming tom think that maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance at getting lucky. 

There are a lot of different styles and brands of decoys on the market these days. For instance, some are made of a foam material, some that roll up or fold up for storage or transportation, and there are some that will inflate in a matter of a few breaths. The price, quality, and detail also vary from brand to brand.  The last couple seasons I’ve been using the Avian-X hen and jake decoys. Attention to detail was given to these decoys. These decoys inflate from the bottom and come with their own carry bag. They look lifelike in the field and could fool most turkeys. Heck, they could even fool an unsuspecting hunter that may walk up on them. Some other brands besides the Avian-X decoys are the Montana Decoy and Heads-up decoy, just to name a couple. Whatever the price you’re willing to spend, there is more than likely a decoy out there that can fit in your budget. 

SOMETHING TO CONSIDER: 

One other item to consider for the first-time turkey hunters would be a foam pad to sit on while you’re waiting for that big ol’ tom to come strutting your way. There may be days you could be sitting and waiting a while for that bird to come in. Giving your butt and back a break from the hard ground with a little cushion will help keep you comfy while waiting for a turkey to cross your path.

Turkey Hunting Success

TO SUM IT UP:

Like I said before, someone starting out may not want to spend a bunch of money on something they’ve never done before without knowing they will love or hate it. With that in mind, the gear I’ve highlighted can be purchased with a budget in mind that won’t break the bank. Be sure to do your research. There are a lot of resources out there that range from gear reviews to helping you learn how to use turkey calls. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either. The last couple years here in Utah, the DWR has offered turkey hunting clinics for the public. I’d encourage you to look for opportunities like this to help you on your way to becoming a turkey hunting master. 

I hope this article helped you out and has given you some ideas for the upcoming turkey season. Be safe out there, and happy hunting.

-AUSTIN FARR