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Turkey hunting is kind of addictive, especially if you’ve heard one particular gobbler sound off for a couple of mornings in a row, and you haven’t bagged him yet. Even if the weather turns bad for a few days, many diehards will be out there anyway. When properly equipped with the right turkey hunting clothing and gear, most hunters can tolerate a couple of hours of nasty weather to get their turkey fix for the day.
The avid turkey hunter hits the woods more than just on the weekends. An average hunt is for a couple of hours in the morning, then back home for a quick shower and off to work. If you’ve got the gear to stay in the field no matter the conditions, you might clock in a few minutes late due to having dressed your gobbler.
Let’s talk turkey hunting clothing. Clothing is a critical part of your gear for any hunting trip, especially turkey hunting. This is not to say that all turkey hunting trips are backwoods wilderness experiences with specialized mountain gear. But buying the right gear will cover most of the hunting situations and weather conditions that you’ll find during the season.
Turkey Hunting Clothing
The right turkey hunting clothing makes a big difference. Dress in layers so that, depending on the weather changes during the day, you can still be comfortable by adding or removing clothing. If the weather turns, you’re more likely to stick it out and continue the hunt if you’re warm and dry. But, if you’re cold or wet, the experience isn’t much fun, and you’re probably going to call it quits for the day.
Jackets: Go Big or Go Home
When choosing a jacket, purchase one size larger than your regular size. This will allow you to layer clothing underneath. I like roomy clothing when I’m hunting, because it’s not a fashion show in the woods. When I swing on game, I like the freedom to be able to twist around easily. Also, tighter clothing constricts blood flow, making you colder. Hence, I always wear a hunting jacket that’s a size or two larger.
In temperatures down to 50 degrees, a breathable lightweight camouflage rain jacket with a hood is a good idea. Thin and breathable pants will wick away body moisture and still repel water from the woods.
Two pair of socks is a good idea: one thin pair to wick away moisture and a second wool blend for warmth and cushioning.
For temperatures below 50, I swap out my thin pants for an insulated pair and a little heavier jacket. A pair of lightweight long-johns–the moisture wicking kind–are great because they’re thin and don’t add bulk. To get the needed layer of warmth for my upper half, I like to wear some kind of pullover shirt with a zippered vest so as not to add bulk to my arms.
Turkey hunting can be especially good in the rain. For the stouthearted that are willing to pursue a wet bird, a lightweight rain suit is a good investment. Frogg Toggs is my favorite brand. Turkeys are more predictable on those rainy days and easier to find out in the fields. A mild rain doesn’t seem to dampen their spirits. I’ve even seen gobblers in an outright downpour strutting to beat the band and gobbling like crazy. So be prepared, and don’t miss an opportunity.
Camouflage patterns should match the area that you’re hunting. In either hot or cold temperatures, I always wear a lightweight 3D camouflage suit. Although, some of these come with a hood or built in face mask, I don’t like the visual restriction they offer. So I seldom use that part of the leafy camo outfit.
Step Through It
When your feet get wet, usually the hunt is over. A good pair of quality mid-calf rubber boots is ideal. The old faithful army green non-insulated LaCrosse Burly style works great. Although the new camouflage rubber patterns are stylish, the material does not hold up. After a year, the rubber cracks where your foot bends. So, you either patch them or buy new pair. I’ve tried several pairs of these camo boots from several different manufacturers. The rubber is not the same, so I’m back to the good old Burlys.
I know, rubber boots can be a little warm and they’re not breathable, but they let you hunt without worrying where you’re stepping. You won’t have to think about where you’re going to hop stones to cross the creek. If it’s a muddy swamp, you’re not going to ruin your boots or get your feet wet.
Other Turkey Gear
I really like one particular company’s face mask. It’s called the Bandito made by Quaker Boy. It’s uniquely designed with a wire that perimeters full vision, conceals your head in camo, and stays in place.
A ball cap works best for turkey hunting. It shields your eyes from the rising sun’s glare and keeps your face in the shadow. If the weather turns colder or it begins to rain, I’ll pull up the hood of my jacket. But I really don’t like wearing hoods because they hinder your hearing and vision.
Gloves are important to camouflage your hands, since that’s the part of you that will move the most when you’re preparing to shoot. Select a pair that features good construction with an extended wrist band.
A little warmth on a cold spring morning is nice, but bulky gloves just don’t work, especially if they have a thick trigger finger. Since you’re usually “rifle aiming” your shotgun at a turkeys head, a bulky trigger finger won’t let you squeeze off your shot.
For this reason, I really like mechanic’s-style gloves for fishing and hunting. They are available in camouflage too. On the palm side of these gloves, they feature a gripping texture. Some gloves even come with smart tip fingers, so you can operate your cell phone without removing them. Because who goes anywhere anymore without their cell phone?
Don’t Bite Me, Don’t Bug Me
Swarming bugs will drive the ill-equipped hunter our of the woods faster than you can say “mosquito.” The threat of snakes is also an important consideration. Being prepared is the name of the game.
It’s essential that your turkey hunting clothing protects you from pesky insects. It seems every week there is a news report of another virus carried by mosquitoes and ticks.
Spray down your clothing liberally with a good insect repellent. But be careful about getting too much chemical directly on your skin. As far as I know, scent is not an issue with turkeys, unless you happen to be carrying a container of butterball seasoning.
In addition to helping you stay hidden, a face mask helps shield you from annoying black flies and gnats.
Tuck your pant legs in your boots and use elastic cuffs to keep out ticks.
If you’re hunting in the south, fire ants and other nasty critters like scorpions are a concern. Watch where you sit, and check your boots and even your pockets before getting dressed.
Since I’m not fond of rattlesnake bites, whenever I’ve hunted regions where they’re present, I don a good, thick pair of snake chaps. If you find full length chaps too hot, in snake country, at least use shields. Chasing birds in these areas puts you in the same habitat as rattlers, and an emergency snake bite kit is worth the space to tote along. It could save your life.
I believe the Sawyer snake bite kit is the only one that really extracts the snake or bee sting venom.
Leaves of Three: Don’t Touch Me
Not that you don’t have enough to worry about with going into the spring turkey woods, like getting bitten by a snake, but there are also plants to avoid. If you’re exposed, and depending on your sensitivity, they can make your life uncomfortable or even be downright life-threatening. If you’re very allergic, you probably already know to steer clear.
The most common plants to avoid are poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Spring turkey hunting lends itself to rubbing shoulders with these plants. In most turkey setups, the hunter is sitting on the ground, against a tree. This is just the habitat where some of these poison plants thrive.
Your turkey hunting clothing should help to protect your skin form the oils of these plants. If you suspect you sat in a patch of this awful stuff, wash your clothes thoroughly when you get home. If you don’t, the strong oils can transfer to your skin the next time you put on your clothes.
I once went hunting with a guy who was extremely sensitive to poison ivy, and we got into it. The next day, he reacted so badly, he ended up in the hospital. His exposure had become systemic with a severe rash in the back of his throat. Being able to identify these nasty Flora is more than just an exercise in botany.
To make sure you stay safe, download (and study) our free printable on the Hunter’s Top 3 Plants to Avoid. Get it here.
A Good In-vest-ment
A turkey hunting vest is worth its weight in gold. The multiple pockets aren’t just a fancy clothing feature. It’s an organizational tool to success. I talk about the importance of a good vest here. Definitely go check that out because it’s important turkey hunting information (and there’s even another freebie included in that article!).
Remember this: if your hunting buddy doesn’t prepare the same as you, all your preparation will be for nothing. He won’t be comfortable, and his whining will drive you from the woods faster than a swarm of hornets. So make sure he’s got the right turkey hunting clothing too, or pack an extra set of everything for him in your truck.
With proper turkey hunting clothing, the weather won’t dictate the days that you hunt. And if you’re “turkey hunting obsessed” like me, then common sense won’t help you much either.
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