Gearing Up For Turkey Season with Ben Smith

Ben Smith of Arizona Wanderings is gearing up for the opening of Arizona Turkey season on April 27th. It’s much more than packing up the truck and the buddies and heading out on the hunt. Ben helps us all prepare for the season with these expert packing tips so we can take home the prize winner.

With turkey season right around the corner here in Arizona, I’ve begun the process of pouring over maps, doing a bit of scouting, and organizing gear for opening weekend. As I started to gather some essentials, here are five key pieces of gear that are critical for success during turkey season.

A well-patterned shotgun:
Arguably the most important piece of equipment is your shotgun. Knowing where your gun shoots and its range can be the difference between success and failure in the field. Many turkey hunters make the mistake of heading into the field without patterning their shotgun.  Taking a Saturday morning at the gun range to pattern your gun is the first step in being a successful turkey hunter.

A turkey vest:
One of the best purchases I ever made was a designated turkey vest with a drop down seat and plenty of pockets. When running and gunning in the ponderosa pines of Arizona, it is important to be able to set up quickly, quietly, and comfortably. Having all your different calls organized so that you can easily switch styles of calls is very important when trying to fool a tough tom.

Locator Calls:
Finding turkeys can be a real trick sometimes. In order to locate birds, it is common to use a locator call, either a crow call or an owl call. The loud call, echoing through the woods can sometimes illicit a turkey to gobble and give away his position. This gives the hunter a chance to set up and try to call the turkey to him.

Turkey Calls:
One of the great things about hunting spring gobblers is that the hunt is auditory. Calling to a turkey and having him react to your clucks and purrs can be one of the most exhilarating and addicting experiences. Typically, when organizing my vest, I like to take at least one box call, two or three slate calls, and several more mouth calls. Overkill? Maybe. Truthfully, it may only take one call to make that gobbler come to you, or you may call through your whole arsenal before he’s willing to wander over for a look.

Safety is extremely important and with more hunters in the field, you can never be too careful. I always like to tuck a blaze orange hat or beanie in my game pouch for after the hunt. If I get lucky and am able to tag out, I want to be walking through the woods with a turkey over my shoulder wearing plenty of orange.