Turkey Vest Gear Dump

By Jace Bauserman

HEAVYWEIGHT TSS being put into a vest pocket

I'm a turkey junkie who lives for sun-soaked days and deafening gobbles. In my 20-plus years in the turkey woods, hunting every subspecies in North America, I've learned a litany of gear is better than a vest full of empty pockets. More is simply better.

First, drop some coin and get a quality turkey vest. There are multitudes on the market, but my go-to sports numerous purposeful pockets, shell loops, a game bag and plenty of other hat-tipper features. Once you have it, fill it with the following:


Box: Don't go to the woods without one. A quality box call is hard to screw up and can reach out and ring the ears of a distant tom. Be sure to carry a few pieces of call chalk as well.

Pot & Peg: This call is my all-time favorite due to the numerous surface and striker options available. I recommend pot-and-peg calls in slate, aluminum and glass textures. As for strikers, I like carbon, purpleheart, hickory and rosewood. With these calls and a little practice, you can replicate all the sounds of a wild turkey.

Different turkey calls spread out on a table

Diaphragm: The best thing about a diaphragm call is the hands-free operation. These calls are probably the hardest to master, and I recommend purchasing several and spending a reasonable amount of time annoying your family with them. A good double-reed is hard to beat, but my favorites are batwing and shipwreck cuts.

Locator: If you can owl hoot like a pro and caw like a crow, you can skimp on the locator calls. If not, I like to have a crow call, owl hoot and a hawk screech in my vest.

Turkey Wing: I thought NWTF World Turkey Calling Champion Billy Yargus had a screw loose when he pulled half a dried turkey wing out of his vest and started smacking it against his leg. My thought process changed when the call-shy tom finally charged in looking for a fight. I also like to use the wing to simulate a morning fly down.

Other Gear

Extra Shells: I know it should only take one, but I've had more than a few "sure things" turn into goat ropes, and I always have at least three more shotshells in my vest.

Hunter holding HEAVYWEIGHT TSS Shell

Knife: If the weather is warm and your walk back to the truck isn't a short one, you'll want to, at the very least, get the innards out of your bird.

Game Bag: Yes, most turkey vests come with a game bag, but go one step further. A gelatinized head will pour blood. Bring an extra game bag and keep your vest clean.

Extra Gloves & Facemask: I lose at least three pairs of gloves and multiple facemasks during a spring. Always have extras in your vest.

Binoculars: Don't overlook a small, quality set of binos. This is especially true if you're hunting open terrain. How many stumps have you thought were turkeys?

Hunter looking through binoculars

Headlamp & Extra Batteries: Whether you dump a bird on his way back to the roost or need to light your path in the morning, a good headlamp with green and red illumination capabilities is a win.

Brush Snippers: A small set of ratchet-style brush snippers are great for removing a poke-you-in-the-side limb or trim brush to build a make-shift blind.

Creature Comforts

Water & Snacks: A morning turkey foray can turn into an all-day affair. Be sure to have plenty of water and some snacks rich in protein and carbohydrates.

Pen & Zip Tie: When your thunderstick goes boom, and a gobbler hits the dirt, you'll need to punch, sign and attach your tag to the bird in most turkey states.

Insect Control: In late spring, mosquitoes, gnats, and the like can be super annoying. I don't leave for the turkey woods without my Thermacell unit.

Hand Wipes: Pulling out guts is a messy business. Always have some good field hand wipes in the vest—they’re also great to have when nature calls.

There you have it. Yes, it's a lot, and it's a lot to tote, but if you need it and don't have it, you'll sing a different tune.


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HEAVYWEIGHT TSS box and shotshells