Tips on selecting a turkey hunting vest
Back in the late 1960’s when I first had the opportunity to hunt spring turkeys, the only call I carried was a Lynch 101 box call, and that was for good reason. If there were diaphragm or pot calls available, I never knew about them. Spring turkey hunting was a brand new sport and few of us knew much, if anything, about how to go about it. What’s more, if a sporting goods store carried any turkey calls at all, it was usually a box call.
Things change, of course, and now I have a whole array of calls and other equipment I think is necessary to insure success. To carry all this “stuff,” I’ve resorted to using a turkey vest because of all the pockets and compartments that permit me to keep my calls and other equipment handy and in order. There are turkey vests galore from which a hunter can choose, but what should the new hunter look for before purchasing one?
When selecting a turkey vest, size is not usually an issue because most turkey vests come in only one size – large. So the first thing I look for is an adequate number of pockets. An abundance of assorted-sized pockets, both inside and outside the vest, is the biggest thing to look for in a turkey vest.
If you don’t use many calls, you may not recognize the need for a lot of pockets, but as the seasons pass, you’ll be amazed at how many different calls and accessories you’ll find useful or necessary and add them to your vest. I carry extra chalk, a spare battery for my Red Dot sight, a small umbrella in case it begins to rain, a small first aid kit and a number of other small items I think I might need “just in case.” Personally, I think that you can never have too many pockets on a turkey vest.
A lot of smaller pockets are better than one or two large ones. A large, single-compartment pocket can be almost useless if everything is mixed together. Pockets need to store and carry your gear securely, but they also need to keep your gear, especially your calls, organized and accessible. Look for a vest that has both large pockets to hold your larger items and smaller pockets to hold items such as calls, insect repellent, shotgun shells, compass, or chalk for your box call. Be sure the pockets on the vest you’re looking at have secure fasteners such as zippers, snaps, Velcro or even magnetic closures.
Working a bird means you may have to sit for an extended period with your back against a tree, so look for a vest that has a built-in back pad. Most turkey vests are made of thin, light material, but that material doesn’t provide much cushioning when leaning up against a tree, especially one with rough bark. To make sure I’m not tempted to move or fidget while sitting I add additional foam material to the pad already included in my vest.
Another feature to look for in a turkey vest is an included fold-down seat made with good foam material. The included seat will guarantee you won’t walk off without a seating pad when you leave the truck for your favorite early-morning hunting spot. Sitting on wet ground without a pad under you is no fun. Ask me how I know.
Finally, a good turkey vest should have a removable blaze orange safety flag on the back of the vest. When I’m leaving the woods or walking from one spot to another, the orange flagging makes me visible to other hunters who might be hunting the same area. I feel it makes me much safer.
Next to your gun and your turkey calls, a good turkey vest is perhaps the most useful item a turkey hunter can own. A little knowledge of what to look for will help you choose the right vest.