When it comes to turkey hunting—especially spring turkey hunting—our pre-season prep always comes into play from scouting and locating birds to making sure that our calls and other gear is up to date and ready to go. Without a doubt, your turkey vest is one of the most important factors of a successful turkey hunt since it carries most of your important gear and alleviates having to stuff things into your pockets.
As we've all found out over the years, a good quality vest is paramount to making turkey season simpler and more composed. As time has gone by, we also discovered that some features of these vests are generally important, but others are very important and should be an addition to any good hunting vest.
You may be a minimalist turkey hunter who only cares to take along with you just enough to do the job, or you may be a gobbler maniac that only ever desires to make the experience the most comfortable, whatever the outcome. Since there are a wide range of turkey hunting vests out there, surely we can find one to our liking, especially with a small reminder of what the best ones all have in common.
No Wasted Space
We love pockets, but they need to be silent, convenient, and intuitive. You have to be able to load these pockets and pouches with multiple calls, including slates and wands, possibly a box call, and have a safe spot for the more delicate diaphragms, and all this right on the front for easy access of your most important hunting gear.
This should include a reasonably large game bag, water bottle storage, and even extra storage for a pair of secondary gloves or face mask. Many of us like to have a place for a few loose shotshells, so in lieu of that, just two or three included shell loops on the outside would be great as well.
An Attached Seat
Unlike some vests that come with a kickstand, having an attached seat provides comfort and a layer of protection between the hunter and the ground. While kickstands work fine and let the hunter sit without a tree at their back, they have a tendency to rock on uneven ground, (and sometimes you don't have the time to choose) where a seat will conform to it.
Without having to carry a seat with you, a turkey hunter can have free hands to stop and make calls on the way, carry their scattergun with ease, and even use the phone for location and mapping.
It should go without saying that we may not walk through some tough cover to get to the birds at times, but we all love to sit in the cover as much as possible. Sure, many turkey hunters set up in a blind, which is a very productive method, but not everyone has that option and you still have to get there.
Ripstop fabric is a phrase that we are all well acquainted with by as hunters, but sometimes we take it for granted. Two things that you should factor in when considering this are weight and silent usage.
A snug fit makes for a more comfortable hunting excursion, especially if you don't want to take the vest off. Walking in and walking out should be as pleasant as the sit so you don't want your vest to get sloppy at the wrong time. This goes for every size of hunter from large to small since most turkey hunting vests come in one size only.
This quality is very important for those who love to run-and-gun or like to move often. Having a vest that adjusts easily and stays where you put it will keep your mind on the hunt and not a vest that is loose and uncomfortable.
Comfort and Fit
If the shoulder straps cut off your circulation, it loosens up after every walk, or if it's never comfortable when it is fully loaded, then you may want to consider changing your choice of vests. Not everyone can hunt for the entire day, whether it be by choice or simply the regulation in the state where you hunt, but most turkey hunts last for a number of hours (cheers to those who bag their birds early and often).
Part of the ergonomics in the vest you choose should be the ability to take your implements out of the vest, or place them inside without having to take your eyes off of your hunting spot, even for a moment. If you buy one with pockets that are magnetic for quiet use and you have all the makings of a vest you'll enjoy for many years (zippered pockets are the most secure).
Many vests are built just like that: similar to a coat with shoulders and a collar for support, whereas many are built with straps that can dig into your neck area. The bottom line is that they should fit well, have plenty of easy access storage, and remain quiet while you hunt.
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