Turkey vests have a lot of pockets, but what should we put in them? You might be surprised how little you really NEED to take with you hunt turkeys effectively. On this episode I talk about the top 5 things you must keep in your turkey hunting vest at all times!

What should you pack in your turkey vest? This is an often-asked question. But first and foremost, we need to recognize what a turkey vest is and is not. It is not a backpack, but it can give you some of the function of one. It is not a coat, but it can give you some warmth and handy front pockets. It is a very specific and specialized system.

I am a fan of turkey vests because they are a combination backpack, seat, and front pockets. They give you everything you need in a small light package. They can take the place of a backpack and do more, if you use them properly. 

The turkey hunting vest is a very specialized and versatile tool. Some have so many pouches, pockets, and folds, that you could bring enough gear to camp with. I recommend a more minimalist approach, only taking a handful of core necessities. Why? Because I want to travel light. Light is easy, light is fast, light is quiet. All things that are important to turkey hunting.

The more you take the more problems you can have, the more things you can fiddle with and get busted with while moving. The more you have the more noise and the more time you need to get situated. A light vest without bulky noisy cargo is a much more practical tool.

Listen to this podcast episode to hear about the top things you MUST keep in your turkey vest.

Restuarant owners love to hear that the turkeys weren’t gobbling that day because they fill up around 7:00 a.m. or 8:00 a.m. with hunters looking for breakfast who gave up for the day.  We can and MUST break this dependance on gobbling to hunt turkeys, and if you are hunting right, you never need to hear a gobble to hunt all morning and fill your tag.  Listen to this podcast episode to hear it all!

Turkeys gobble for a number of reasons, it is not solely about mating. And they may gobble year-round. Likewise, turkeys can mate without gobbling, it is certainly not required. In fact, they will often not gobble while mating. Weather plays a part in gobbling as well, as do many various other factors, many of which are not fully understood. What we know for sure is that if we hear a turkey, we know one is there. But the opposite is hardly true. Not hearing a turkey only means you don’t hear a turkey. 

First things first, you should not pick a hunting location based on gobbling, you should select it because of sign. Real, tangible evidence that turkeys are in that area. If you scout and do that, you will have something that very few turkey hunters have. Confidence. You can be confident that whether you hear them or not, gobblers are in that area, and you have a chance to call one it and take it home. 

Most turkey hunters have no confidence, if they do not hear turkeys, they assume they do not exist and are not in their area. And without scouting, there is no reason to think they are in your area. So, the hunter who scouts well is not fazed by a lack of vocalizing toms, but the hunter who does not scout has no reason to stick it out if they do not hear any birds.

You can hunt and take turkeys no matter what sounds they make or do not make. It may require a change in strategy, it might take some different tactics, but you absolutely hunt them. And taking a turkey that never gobbled is no less fun! In fact, it is a great challenge, greater feat, and often feels like a greater accomplishment.

Turkey hunting is not birdwatching. If you work hard and do not take the easy way out, you will find turkey nuggets on your table again and again.

Listen to the whole podcast episode to hear more.


Most the time it is easy to tell the difference between male and female turkeys, but sometimes it is strangely difficult. Bearded hens can make things more complicated but a lot more can happen that makes it even harder to tell the difference between a hen and a gobbler.

People often ask, what percentage of hens have beards? The answer should be simple but data from researchers varies greatly between 3% and 20%. The most commonly accepted statistic I have found is around 10% of hens have beards. And hen beards tend to be shorter, thinner, and less pronounced than the beard of tom. However, what normally happens is not what always happens.

Hens and toms can share a lot of traits they aren’t supposed to have at times. Hens can have plumage similar to gobblers at times. Gobblers can have no spurs, lighter colors, and different head colorings. Some hens can be larger than normal and some toms can be smaller than usual.

At the end of the day some turkeys can be so mix-matched that it is not possible for even a trained hunter to properly identify them in the field, even if they have them in hand.  You may think I’m joking, but occasionally a bird comes along that even biologists cannot identify without checking its reproductive parts.

The big thing hunters need to know is what are the laws for taking a bird. If a turkey is legal and you want to take it, you probably should. People often say that killing a bearded hen is the same as killing a whole hatch of poults. But the truth is that predation and winter kill more turkeys than anything else.

That bearded hen may get eaten by a coyote by the end of the day. The whole hatch may never last a week if foxes and crows find it. Very few of those birds will live long enough to see the winter and fewer still will survive to breed. Nature consumes many of the turkeys that hunters think they are saving.

But the bottom line is this, if as an seasoned turkey hunter you have come to a point where you prefer to pass on bearded hens for the chance it may help the population then you should. If you’ve never taken a turkey before and you see a legal bird, and you want to take it, you should. Each hunter needs to follow their heart and conscience, not the collective input of Facebook groups. 

Listen to the podcast episode for much more!

There are not many things we hunt where hearing matters more than it does for turkeys. Every gobble, cluck, purr, scratch, and footstep provides us with the strategic audio input we need to hunt these majestic birds. And yet the very practice of hunting turkeys damages our ears, both from gunshots but also loud calling. On this episode I interview Dr. Bill Dickinson, an audiologist and founder of Tetra Hearing, to talk about how important our hearing is and what we can do to protect and restore it. 

Here is the Tetra discount code that you can use to get 10% off your order. Go to Tetra’s website and use the code: NHG2410 at checkout for a 10% discount.

Most people do not think that one or two shotgun shots a year hunting turkey is enough to damage their hearing. The truth is, one shot, the next shot, could be the one that changes your hearing forever. And if it’s not, it can take a just a little bit more of your hearing away. Most people lose a little here and there until all of a sudden, they realize they have a real problem. 

But perhaps even more harmful than shotgun noise is loud calling. A box call or glass call can easily exceed the safe hearing threshold and cause you hearing damage every day you walk into the woods whether you pull the trigger or not. 

But if people do not protect their hearing hunting turkeys, they likely do not protect it hunting pheasants, deer, ducks, doves and other game. And every day you walk into the woods you are hurting your hearing for next season. You are also hurting your hearing for work, family, and everything else you will do for the rest of your life.

Hearing protection is not just important, it is crucial. And thankfully we have more amazing options available today than ever before in history to protect our hearing and even help us hunt better. Tetra Hearing has created the most sophisticated hearing protection and augmentation technology ever seen.

This is not just technology that prevents hearing loss, but it compensates for hearing loss and then enables you to hear the game that you are hunting from further away than you could normally, even with perfect hearing. Dr. Bill has created something truly amazing and special that is bringing back the joy of hunting for so many who were no longer able to hear turkeys gobble. And it is enabling a generation to protect their hearing and enabling them to hunt for a lifetime without sacrificing one of their senses every day spent afield. 

On this episode Dr. Bill breaks down some of the complexities of the human hear and how it works, the technology that goes into protecting it and enhancing our hunting. But more than that he shares how important hearing is at all levels of life. His work truly celebrates this amazing sense God has given us and all of the great things that flow out of it into our lives. 

Listen to full podcast episode to hear the interview, stories, tech, and much more. And you can watch my review of the AlphaShield’s below. 


When it comes to hunting spring turkeys, there is one thing that trumps gear, strategy, calling, ammo, stealth, and everything else. And that is SIGN. You could be the greatest turkey hunter in the world, a championship winning caller, with the best equipment that money can buy, shooting gold platted TSS shells accurate to 100 yards and none of it will matter at all if there are no turkeys there. Finding and hunting over sign is the single most important part of turkey hunting. 

You can make a lot of mistakes chasing gobblers and still get opportunities, still get seemingly “lucky” and take birds home. You can sp0ok birds day after day, you can miss birds, bump them, call badly, and worse, and still occasionally find success IF there are turkeys there to be hunted. It happens all the time.

But you can also waste days, weeks, and entire seasons hunting in places where there are no turkeys to be found. Sometimes they are areas that look like they should hold turkeys, sometimes they are areas with perfect food and habitat, and sometimes they are just traditional or convenient hunting areas. But none of that matters to the turkeys and will give them any reason to be there. We need to find them and go to the places where they are.

Scouting is an unending part of turkey hunting. We should scout before the season, during the season, and after the season if we want to find areas that have turkeys this year and may have turkeys again in future hunting seasons. Turkeys are sometimes drawn to specific areas and habitat year-after-year because in the spring it is quality turkey habitat. And if you can find a few of those honey holes, then current and past scouting can pay off by providing future benefit. But every year we need to be on the lookout for sign.

Sign comes in many forms and in this episode, I talk about numerous ways to find it and make good turkey hunting strategy decisions. Listen to the full podcast episode for more! 

Not every turkey hunter needs the same gear, in fact two hunters in the same town could need very different gear depending on their individual hunting style. On this episode I talk through some of the specifics of different turkey hunting styles, the type of gear that best supports each and how you can build a set of gear for cheap. 

There are numerous factors that can affect what kind of gear works best with different hunting’s styles. Some of the most popular way to hunt turkeys include:

  • Hunting one spot all day – This is similar to deer hunting and could be done in conjunction with calling or just as ambush hunting. The biggest gear challenge is keeping warm, quiet, and comfortable for long stealthy sits.
  • Running and gunning – A favored style because hunters are on the move, covering ground, trying to strike up a conversation with a lonely gobbler. Here you need gear that is light weight, keeps you dry, and lets you walk long distances unhindered.
  • Moving and sitting – This is the toughest gear challenge because you need to stay warm sitting for long periods of time and need a high degree of mobility without overheating. People often struggle with this type of gear because you tend to wear too much or too little.

Keep in mind you do not need super expensive gear to be comfortable and effective, you just need gear that is designed to help you do whatever style of hunting you prefer. The right gear matters more than gear that is expensive.

Listen to the podcast episode to hear how to optimize your turkey hunting gear. 


Most turkey hunters are not equipped with the gear or tactics to hunt turkeys on super cold spring mornings. But gear can be acquired or improvised, and the strategy changes are not hard to adapt to. On this podcast episode I talk about how to successfully hunt turkeys on the coldest days of the season.

Remember the turkeys are always out there. They can be hunted, even if they don’t gobble. They are still doing many of the same things even if they are not vocal. The key is being extra alert, expecting them to come in without making a sound. You can have great success on fridged days, especially if the cold keeps other hunters out of the woods. 

Ice cold spring turkey hunting gear needs are rather unique. The ideal gear is something between deer and elk hunting in nature to accommodate covering rough terrain as well as long sits. Most of the time, turkey hunters are not buying premium base layers and outer layers optimized for the job. Their gear is either not warm enough or not wind proof enough, or maybe it is too noisy or too bulky. Or perhaps their gear causes them to overheat when moving and then freeze from sweat when sitting.

You can overcome both of these challenges however with smart thinking and paying careful attention to gear you can find good deals on in the off season. Some gear can be improvised if you know exactly what you need it to do and what qualities it should have.

However, if you don’t have the equipment and the strategies, the easiest way to deal with these cold days is just stay home and hunt another day. That is not a terrible option. Why risk being miserable or getting sick? If its only a couple days a year, you can easily just skip them and hunt turkeys on the better days. Remember, hunting is ALL ABOUT HAVING FUN and if this kind of hunting isn’t fun, just hold out for better days. There is no shame in that at all. 

But if you want to hunt these days, you can, and you can be effective. That drive can push you to cobble together the needed equipment and be patient enough to effectivity use the strategies I discuss in this episode. 

Listen to this podcast episode to hear about how to hunt gobblers in the cold. 

These were the words of a real turkey hunter. And while that story is sad, it does not need to be your story, in fact it shouldn’t be! On this episode I talk about all the preventable things that bog down hunters and hinder success as well as the very simple straight forward things you can do to make sure you never fall into a sad pattern like this. 

Turkey hunting is seldom easy but it’s not impossible or mystical. If you can find turkeys, you have a reasonable chance of being able to get one on any given day. And if you don’t, you take what you learned today and use it to improve your chances tomorrow. That is what turkey hunting is all about, you hunt and you learn, then you hunt more. Constantly improving and learning. 

To take birds more seasons than you don’t, you need to do a handful of very simple things, like learn, change, and repeat. If you can do that, and you invest some reasonable amount of time hunting, you will become a proficient and effective turkey hunter in time.

Some people learn so much about their local area that it becomes too easy to them, and they feel compelled to change things in order to up the difficulty more. But what they are really doing is stretching to learn more in new areas or new ways.

Listen to the podcast episode to hear it all!

Fall turkey hunting is a very different pursuit than spring turkey hunting, it has its own distinct flavor and unique strategies. On this episode I talk about five strategies for hunting fall turkey, the best times of day, and how to chain turkey hunts together with other game pursuits.

5 was you can hunt turkeys in the fall:

  1. Big Rifle Hunting – This involves using terrain to gain altitude where you can see big distances and trying to take a bird from long range.
  2. Small Rifle Hunting – This is most often done as an ambush technique or when trying to divert nearby birds into your area.
  3. Scatter and Call – This approach is used when you can get close enough to bust up a flock, hide, and try to call them back together. 
  4. Flush and Shoot – Similar to pheasant hunting, you push through areas with cover trying to flush birds and shoot them in the air.
  5. Slowly Stalking – Akin to still hunting deer, this approach focusses on moving stealthily through thick woods, trying to spot and shoot a bird before it sees you.

On of the best things about fall turkey hunting is you can also combine other pursuits, in some places you can hunt turkey and deer at the same time, or turkey and pheasant at the same time, or ducks, small game, and any number of birds. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you need super specialized gear to take all these types of game either. often you can use the same shotgun and the same ammo to hunt several different things, just make sure you are compliant with local laws.

You can shoot turkeys with steel, bismuth, tungsten, lead, or anything else that flies out of a shotgun or rifle if its legal. One of the best things new hunters can do when they are learning to turkey hunt is combine several pursuits to maximize their chances of coming out of the woods with dinner and to have the most fun.

In many areas you can take all different types of turkeys in the fall also, be them big toms, jakes, hens, or poults. Do not be afraid of taking a hen in the fall or a poult. Turkey winter survival rates are not as high as many think. There is a good chance that the turkey you shoot in the fall was not going to survive the winter due to lack of food, predation, or severe weather. Taking a fall bird has the most minimal potential impact on the turkey population. And a small turkey can be a very tasty meal, something you almost never find in a grocery store either.

The best guns for fall turkey hunting tend to be shotguns or small rifles. It may be a 12 gauge, 20 gauge or other shotgun, a shotgun combined with a rifle, or a smaller rifle such as as .22lr, .22 magnum, .17 HMR, a .22 hornet or a lightly loaded 223. Always check your local to laws to know what is legal and what the proper safety regulations are in your area.

Listen to the episode for all the details on strategy, gun choices, and much much more!

Clover is one of the best plantings for a new hunter when it comes to deer and turkey hunting. It is easy, fast, inexpensive, does not require big equipment, and grows back every year. On this episode I talk about the benefits and easiest ways new hunters can plant clover as a food plot.

Take Aways

  • Whitetail Institute Imperial Clover is the gold standard that all clover is measured against. You can get started with a microplot for about $20.
  • There are way cheaper clover options though. If you go to your local AG store you can often get white clover by the pound for half the price.
  • I have used both and gotten good results with both. But I would still lean towards the Whitetail Institute Imperial Clover if cost and scale were not major factors.
  • The clover is a great food source for deer year-round, I have watched them visit it daily in the middle of January and February and paw through several inches of snow to nibble on whatever is left.
  • Turkeys also find clover patches very appealing, especially in the early spring. They eat the clover as well as the bugs that live on and around it.
  • To prepare the ground there are two easy routes, you can whack the vegetation down to the dirt with a weed eater or do a few sprayings of Round Up with a cheap hand sprayer.
  • Normally you will want to put down some pelletized lime when you plant to help the PH. $20 worth is plenty for most micro plots.
  • You can add fertilizer in the spring or fall if you want. Ideally you want something like a 0-20-20. Clover doesn’t need nitrogen, it creates its own and it only feeds the weeds when you use it. My local AG store has 10-20-20, and I use that. 
  • To plant clover you need very minimal tools if you can see bare dirt, just a cheap hand spreader.
  • Upkeep is minimal, just re-seed in late winter/early spring wherever you see bare spots and you should be good to go.
  • You can mow or weed whack the clover in the summer if you are getting competition with weeds, typically the clover will grow back faster than the weeds and take back over.
  • There are some special herbicides that will kill grasses and weeds without hurting the clover if your clover gets overrun, but most people won’t need them.
  • Listen to the episodes for all the details.