Stay prepared this turkey season by checking out this list of turkey vest essentials nobody really talks about.
Hunters spend plenty of time discussing the best gear for turkey hunting. Do you want a turkey vest that has enough storage compartments to hold every piece of gear you own? Or do you want a lightweight, minimalist vest to help get you into the farthest reaches of the mountains?
It is different for everybody. The same goes for calls and clothing. Different things work for different hunters.
However, one aspect of turkey hunting that needs to gain consistency is hunters' general preparedness in the field. This implies the essential tools for every hunter's vest that will help you stay prepared and keep you ready for most situations hunting might have to offer.
This isn't a list of specific products but instead a list of categories. Some further individual research and trial and error will ensure that you are putting the right products into your vest. Here are the turkey vest essentials nobody talks about, but should.
Whether you are cleaning and butchering game in the field or cutting rope, branches, and things of the like, a knife is quite possibly the most useful tool to any hunter. Knife size and multi-tool capacity should be at the discretion of the individual, but one thing is for certain, you should never go into the woods without a knife.
Many hunters don't think about including a lighter in their vests or day packs. My question is "Why not?" Having the ability to produce fire and heat is great, and a lighter is virtually weightless in your vest. They come in handy if you need to burn toilet paper or start your camp grill. Heck you can even light your victory cigar with one.
Travel Pack of Wipes
Not much needs to be said here, but besides the obvious, wipes are handy for cleaning blood and wiping sweat. Keeping a small pack in your vest is a must. It is important to only take biodegradable wipes, or else bring a small plastic bag to haul out your trash. Pack it in, pack it out, even if it isn't public land.
Plastic Bag with License/Tag
Keeping your license in your wallet or on your phone is great, but oftentimes when I travel out of state or am expecting any rain, I'll also have a printed copy in a plastic bag. Some states require you to have several pieces of paper and it's nice to keep them together. I also always like to keep a hard copy just in case my phone dies while I'm in the woods.
Miscellaneous Plastic Bag (Zip Ties, Box Call Chalk, Etc.)
Just like keeping a small miscellaneous kit in your camp or pickup truck, it is important to have a similar kit in your turkey vest. This can be another waterproof plastic bag. Fill it with small useful items like zip ties (good for attaching tags to game), extra chalk for your box call, and other small, lightweight items that you might need.
Rechargeable Power Packs
With many hunters depending heavily on their phones for functions like digital mapping and game tag apps, it is important that their phones stay charged. Keeping a small, rechargeable power pack in your vest will solve that problem. Most power packs are the size of a compact flashlight and are plenty small enough to carry to the woods with you. Just charge it the night before and it'll give you a second phone charge to carry in your pocket all day.
Snakebite or First Aid Kit
It is always a good idea to be prepared for anything. Hunting, especially turkey hunting, can easily put you into a compromising, high risk situation that results in injury. While most hunting injuries are minor, it is very important that you can take care of issues when they arise and in an appropriate manner. Also, most kit producers make compact/ultralight kits (many in the 4- to 6-ounce range) with hunters and hikers in mind.
Staying prepared for all situations is important. This list will help you gather the things you need in your turkey hunting vest this spring, beyond the calls, shotgun shells, and cell phone you already know you need. All the items mentioned are small and don't significantly affect your vest's weight, but could significantly impact the quality of your hunting experience. Just remember to be prepared, stay safe, and have fun.