Turkey vests are too big. It seems the more I hunt turkeys, the more gear I need to carry. My dedicated turkey vest must weigh 20 pounds! I shot my first turkey using nothing more than an Olt scratch box call that weighed an ounce. I put the call in one shirt pocket and the striker in the other while I was walking the N.C. Mountains to keep them quiet. All I had was a gun, face net and gloves and milspec surplus camo pants, cap and shirt. It was in the 1970s and turkey season had just reopened. Don't we turkey hunters love our gadgets and gear?
In my vest on this year's N.C. opening day were:
- Padded seat, with an extra cushion because the ground gets harder the older I get
- Friction calls, with multiple strikers
- Box calls
- Box call kit with sandpaper, chalk, rubber bands, etc.
- Super Yelper scratch box call in soap travel case
- Compass (or GPS)
- Pruning shear
- Shotgun ammo
- Owl call
- Crow call
- Face net
The noisiest items that must be quieted in my vest while walking are the diaphram call box (it has original packaging that can be quieted with tape on the outside and a piece of paper towel on the inside but I've been too busy hunting to even think about it until now), ThermaCell insect repellent device and plastic refill packages, and aerosol insect repellent.
Not shown is the paper towel emergency paper, which I had to use. "Nature paper" can also be used to silence calls and gear by filling a pocket until it is needed.
My paddle style box calls are silenced by inserting a business card between the lid and the soundboard sides, with a tear in each side of the card. A rubber band or hair band goes around the call and into the slots torn into the business card to keep it from slipping from between the bearing surfaces. If I lose the call in the woods, hopefully someone will read the business card and make arrangements to return the call. On large boat paddle calls or collector calls, I put a green army surplus sock around them to keep them quiet and protect the finish.
Box calls go into the "game pocket" compartment at the rear of the vest, along with insect repellent, ThermaCell device, and water bottle.
I switch calls nearly every day, keeping spare box calls in the vehicle with a sock around them.
Notice the aluminum friction call inside a padded call case. The padded case keeps the metal surface quiet. I also carry a slate and a glass call, which fit into individual pockets on the inside of the vest.
Another tip is using camo duct tape to silence the plastic or metal buckles and fittings on the vest. I put the clip/buckle that goes around my waist into a pocket to keep it from banging, but I really should just cut it off since I don't use it.
Sometimes I carry a telescoping blind or fold up blind, which can fits into the game pocket and can bang around against buckles. Then there's Henrietta, a real hen mounted by a taxidermist that fits in a plastic storage bin painted in a camouflage. The plastic bin is very noisy, rubbing against twigs and buckles.
They say you can't sneak up on a turkey. No wonder, if you're wearing a vest like mine, with all this stuff stuffed inside it.
Turkey season has been excellent. Carol missed one and got one. I missed one and killed one in N.C. and one in S.C. You can read more in the Goldsboro News Argus Friday Sports page on Apr. 23, or in future Wilmington Sunday Star News. www.newsargus.com and www.starnewsonline.com.
Or check out my Facebook page.