March 01, 2022
I’ve shot turkeys with nothing but a shotgun in my hands, clothes on my body, and boots on my feet. And while I love all the incredible turkey gear at our disposal, and I use these things quite often, they aren’t must-have things to fill tags. You can get the job done with limited money spent. You only truly need seven things to go turkey hunting.
1. The Right Documentation
The most important thing to have on hand is the right documentation. The specific needs vary by state, as every wildlife agency and DNR does things differently. That said, in many cases, this includes a hunting license, turkey tags, habitat stamps, public land stamps, and a hunter education card, or at least a variation of these things. Regardless, be sure you purchase and carry all the required documentation while in the field. Consult your state’s turkey hunting guide for more information and contact a license sales representative if have additional questions.
You can’t shoot a turkey without a gun to shoot at it with. No need to purchase an expensive, top-end option, though. You can get it done with a trusty pump shotgun. That said, after you’ve purchased a specific gun, shoot it, see how it patterns, and know how it performs. Then, you’re ready for the turkey woods. But don’t forget to put a sling on it. These come in very handy when navigating the turkey woods, especially for mobile turkey hunters.
Here are five budget bird shotguns under $500:
3. Shotgun Shells
You need ammunition for the shotgun you’ve selected. You can’t rain fire down on them if there’s no ammo to stick in your shotgun. Fortunately, there are plenty of budget-based options on the market. You can get decent turkey loads for a reasonable price.
Here are some 10-round box options to consider:
Turkeys are known for their ability to pick off predators long before they get close to them. But unlike a whitetail, it isn’t a turkey’s nose you have to fool, but it’s eyes. Turkeys see much differently than deer, and other big game, making good camo even more important for turkey hunting. Drilling down on specifics, you’ll need a shirt, jacket, pant, hat, head net, and gloves. These are essential items for concealing yourself from the turkeys you plan to hunt.
Some good options to get you started include:
A good pair of boots is incredibly important. Keeping your feet comfortable, dry, and warm (and cool), is extremely important. For those who won’t be covering much ground, lesser boot options might work. But anyone covering a moderate amount of ground, especially in adverse, wet conditions, should consider a better pair.
Several good options under $100 include:
6. Turkey Call
While decoys are an added but very helpful bonus, turkey calls are must-have, especially if you don’t plan to pattern turkeys and ambush them in known high-usage areas. Therefore, choosing at least one turkey call is important. Having several options on hand is even better.
Knowing what call(s) to choose can be a challenge, though. Diaphragm (mouth) calls take a good deal of time to master. Friction calls are easier to use. These primarily include box, glass, and slate calls. Newer hunters might also try a push-button style call, too.
Some great turkey calls under $20 for 2022:
Some might consider this unnecessary for turkey hunting, but if they do, they haven’t seen a dark blob 750 yards away, thought it was a strutting turkey, spent an hour or two closing the distance, only to realize it was a rotten stump. So, yeah, binoculars are necessary for turkey hunting, especially in open country, and those who can see more than 100 yards where they hunt.
Some good budget options include:
Bonus Item: Toiler Paper
Never, ever go to the turkey woods without toilet paper in your pocket. No, it isn’t necessary for killing a turkey. But it is necessary for keeping you from wiping with something less comfortable, and from screaming down the highway in search of the nearest restroom. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Additional Things That Help Turkey Hunters
In addition to the things you must have for turkey hunting, including the top-level gear items outlined above, other items are certainly helpful during the hunt. Certain things can also make you more effective, increase odds of filling tags, and even keep you safer during the hunt.
The second level of turkey hunting gear isn’t necessary, but it’s still ranked very highly. Additional turkey calls can help you change things up when your calling gets stale and increases the likelihood of projecting a sound that a gobbler likes. Locator calls help you draw shock gobbles out of a turkey without drawing them to your position prematurely. Decoys provide a visual for longbeards to lock on to and can distract them from your calling position. Obviously, if you have all this extra gear, it’s also important to have something to carry it with. That makes a turkey hunting vest extremely beneficial.
The next level of hunting gear is very good to have, too. This includes a ground blind and hunting chair, which is great for new hunters who can’t sit still, those who bowhunt, and more. A rangefinder is also good, especially for bowhunters and those who aren’t good at judging yardage.
Another great thing to have available is a hunting app, such as HuntStand, which can help you understand the lay of the land. It also offers powerful scouting tools, and methods to take notes regarding specific places you hunt. Access limited tools with a free membership, or unlock more powerful features with HuntStand Pro.
Speaking of scouting tools, trail cameras can be helpful for turkey hunters, too. These are excellent for taking inventory of properties, scouting open areas, trails, and more. Just make sure you place them lower to the ground — about 1-2 feet — than when scouting for deer.
Finally, other miscellaneous items that turkey hunters frequently use include shears, insect repellent, flashlights, processing equipment (although a sharp kitchen knife works just fine for processing turkeys), first aid equipment, food, water, and more.
All things considered, turkey hunters don’t need much to get started. That said, for those who are on a budget, it’s best to begin with the essential things, and then accrue other hunting gear items that you want over time.