Despite their similar appearances, wild turkeys are much different than their barnyard counterparts. Wild turkeys are elusive, paranoid poultry with unrivaled vision, making them a challenging target and a favorite among sportsmen.
In order to take down one of these birds, you have to be well camouflaged and blend into your surroundings, which is why your apparel is so important to your success in the field. From the soles of your boots to the top of your headwear, there are certain elements to each piece of clothing that you should consider. With enough knowledge and preparation, you could come one step closer to bagging that trophy-sized tom.
When it comes to boots for turkey season, start by considering the terrain where you’ll be hunting. If you have a more rugged and rocky environment to traverse, consider boots with a little more support.
On flatter terrain, you can get away with a calf-high rubber boot. You should also take into account the comfort level and overall weight of your boots, because you never know when tracking birds can turn into a long, extensive hike.
Another factor to consider is which season you will be hunting in. Forty-nine states and four Canadian provinces have at least a spring season, and many hold a fall turkey season as well. Weather and temperature will differ in each region, so plan accordingly with the right level of insulation to keep you warm. If you’re looking at a pair of boots to fit both seasons, consider pairing them with thicker socks in the fall and lighter socks in the spring.
Lastly, think about how you normally wear your boots. If you prefer to tuck your pant legs into them, consider choosing a pair with a camouflage exterior. This can lessen the chances of being seen by an approaching flock and keep your camouflage unbroken.
Turkey hunting pants should be lightweight, quiet and have a full camouflage design. Depending on the season and weather conditions, you can opt for more insulation, but another good way to work around owning multiple pairs of pants is to layer up with baselayers.
Also, look for hunting pants that are waterproof, or choose camouflage rain pants. This is especially important in spring turkey seasons. A light rain won’t necessarily send toms running for cover, so you will want to be able to stay out in these conditions. Bur-proof and cactus-proof materials can also come in handy, depending on your environment.
As with hunting pants, you should consider the weather and season that you are hunting in, but because turkey hunting is an all-day experience, layering is the recommended choice. In the morning hours when temperatures are a little more frigid, consider a camouflage jacket with proper insulation, layered over a camouflage shirt. Every layer should be camouflage, as you don’t know how many you might strip off during the course of the day.
You’ve noticed by now that full camouflage is a necessity for turkey hunting. But having the wrong camouflage can be just as big of a problem as having no camouflage at all. So, scout the conditions of your hunting surroundings and note the colors present. You should also consider the season, because early spring hunting calls for the use of more browns and grays. As spring progresses and trees begin to sprout more leaves, mix in more green and lighter colors.
There are countless patterns available to you, but make sure to pick a print that will blend seamlessly into your environment. For example, a waterfowl pattern won’t do much good in the green and gray patterns present in a wooded area.
The one camouflage-breaking color you might have to wear is fluorescent orange. Some states in certain turkey seasons require hunters to wear some form of fluorescent orange while moving or sitting. Check your state game laws to see if these regulations apply to you.
Last, but certainly not least, you should always avoid wearing anything with red, white or blue in it. This can resemble a turkey’s head and can put you in potential danger if other hunters mistake you for a tom. While you’re out there to bag a bird, safety should always remain in focus when hunting, for your sake and the sake of others.
GLOVES, FACE AND HEAD
Camouflaging your face and hands is possibly the most crucial key to successful turkey hunting. These areas show the most movement throughout the day, and keeping them hidden is vital.
For gloves, it’s best to go with a lightweight, camouflage pair that has sufficient grip but is thin enough to not hinder calling and trigger pulling. Some gloves even have tip-less fingers for dexterity. Always carry an extra pair or two in case of rain or colder temperatures.
In covering your face, you have two options available: net or face paint. Nets (or hunting masks as they are sometimes called) are made of a thin mesh material and cover your face with some models featuring holes cut for your eyes, nose and mouth. There are also half-masks available that begin below the eyes for a wider field of vision. The mesh is overlaid with a camouflage pattern and breaks up the uniformity of your facial features, leaving you nearly invisible to the turkey.
If you find nets to be a nuisance, you can also camouflage yourself by applying face paint. There are lots of kits available, as well as individually-colored tubes. This method removes the net, but does require more application and cleanup time.
For headwear, a camouflage ball cap remains one of the popular choices among sportsmen, but colder temperatures can call for a more insulated piece of apparel. Consider your season and comfort in deciding on what to wear out in the field.
HUNTING FROM A GROUND BLIND
There is no doubt that camouflaging yourself while turkey hunting is extremely crucial, but there is one instance where camouflage might not be the most ideal pattern. When hunting from a ground blind, more often than not, the interior lining of your structure will be black or heavily shaded. With this serving as the backdrop, wearing camouflage is not recommended in order to seamlessly blend into your surroundings. Instead, opt for all black clothing or dark camouflage, depending on the amount of exposure your blind’s window gives off. You will want to remain hidden during walking, however, so it is advised to pack these items when moving to your location and change in your blind. Another possible solution is to flip your apparel inside out. If the lining is black, then you can easily transition from one camouflage technique to the next.
ADDITIONAL ITEMS TO CONSIDER
A great addition to any turkey hunter’s apparel is a turkey vest. These camouflage garments have a ton of pockets capable of holding all of your gear in an organized and silent fashion. Some even offer a game bag for easy walking once you land your tom, as well as a built-in seat or extra padding for leaning against trees. If you are layering up and plan on taking off layers as the day progresses, it might also be advisable to carry a camouflage backpack for extra clothing and easier carrying.
Keep in mind that with turkeys, their sight is the biggest sense that you are trying to deceive. Remember that they cannot smell you, so there is no need for scent control. Keep these apparel tips in mind, and you should be able to have better success in taking down one of the most popular game birds in North America. Now, get your gear on, and happy hunting!