Turkey Gear for Taking Toms

It’s prime time for turkey hunters. Are you stocking what they’re shopping for?

Turkey Gear for Taking Toms

Once spring arrives, turkeys become the sole focus for many hunters. After all, turkey season is the only hunting season still open in many areas of the country. Catering to spring gobbler chasers makes good sense, because turkey hunting is one of the more gear-intensive outdoor sports, second only to maybe waterfowling. Decoys, calls, blinds, ammo, camo, and various other items are all part of the spring turkey-taking game. The following gear will help hunters tag their toms this season. 



Avian-X makes some of the most popular and realistic turkey decoys out there. The new HDR (Heavy Duty Realism) line of full-body decoys are molded from hand-carved designs and includes a Feeding Hen, Upright Hen, partial-strut Jake, and full-strut Strutter. The Upright Hen, Jake, and Strutter all come with two interchangeable heads in aggressive and submissive postures. This allows customization of the decoys to fit the mood of local flocks.   

My personal favorite Avian-X decoys are found in the LCD (Lifelike Collapsible Decoy) full-body line. They are a bit more affordable than HDR decoys, yet almost as realistic. The LCD lineup includes the Laydown Hen in a sitting posture, Lookout Hen in an upright posture, Breeder Hen in a partially upright posture, and the Feeder Hen in a feeding posture, as well as the Quarter-Strut Jake and Half-Strut Jake. Even though I own several Avian-X decoys, I frequently keep it simple and just use a relaxed Breeder Hen and content Feeder Hen. More often than not, that combo gets the job done. Stakes and carrying bags are included with all Avian-X decoys. www.avian-x.com


Flextone also offers highly realistic turkey decoys. Flextone’s Thunder Chick hen decoys are available in Upright, Feeder and intermediate Breeder poses. There’s also the unassuming Thunder Jake with a short beard and relaxed posture designed to aggravate, not intimidate, mature gobblers. The Thunder Creeper is an undersized strutting decoy whose smaller stature makes it both portable and non-threatening. Every decoy in the Thunder series has an integrated stake that can be folded up into the body, making quiet transport a cinch and lost stakes a thing of the past. 

There’s also the Funky Chicken, a skinny, wimpy, poor excuse for a turkey that imitates the scrawniest Jake imaginable. Flextone provides some pretty convincing video of the Funky Chicken absolutely enraging big gobblers. I keep one in my garage just in case things get desperate. Otherwise, I like to use a Thunder Jake combined with a Thunder Chick Feeder and Upright, especially when high visibility is a must, since these decoys are a shade darker and stand a bit taller than other decoys. Best of all, Flextone’s decoys are much more affordable than many other brands. www.flextonegamecalls.com


Primos is a longtime trusted brand in the turkey hunting industry with products that can be found in stores large and small all across the country. Primos turkey decoys included the Lil Gobbstopper Hen and Jake. They feature lifelike poses and coloration, yet are smaller than real turkeys so they won’t intimidate wary gobblers. They are sold individually or as a combo. 

Primos also offers the Photoform Leading Hen, Strutter and Jake decoys. Photoform decoys use a proprietary process that takes an actual image of a turkey and prints it on the decoy’s foam body. The result is ultra-realistic. www.primos.com 



Known for its popular waterfowl calls, Zink also makes some highly effective turkey calls, such the Hick Talker, a raspy, double-sided box call with a walnut body and hickory paddle that features an attractive turkey feather design. 

Zink’s Thunder Ridge Series of pot calls come with slate, aluminum or crystal calling surfaces. My personal favorite is the crystal version, which has been directly responsible for putting several gobblers in my freezer. Another popular pot call is the Thunder Ridge Blaster with a bead-blasted aluminum surface for improved control and tone. Zink also offers the Wicked Series of pot and box calls, as well as numerous diaphragm mouth calls. www.zinkcalls.com


Primos has a huge lineup of turkey calls, but some top sellers include the new double-sided Heartbreaker and compact single-sided Lil Heartbreaker box calls. Both feature a one-piece mahogany box and purple-heart lid. The new Primos Select series of mouth calls includes the PS1 double reed bat cut perfect for soft early morning tree calls, the PS2 triple reed bat cut that makes loud and raspy yelps and cackles, the PS3 triple reed ghost cut that replicates high-pitched kee-kee runs, and the PS4 triple reed bat cut with medium rasp that can be toned down for finishing gobblers. 

Noteworthy Primos pot calls include the new Freak with a Frictionite surface and an integrated base that allows one-handed calling, as well as my personal favorite, the Foggy Bottom, which I’ve used to lure in several longbeards. It features a glass surface and Mossy Oak Bottomland camo finish. Don’t forget to also stock Primos’ Hoot Flute owl call, which is one of the best locator calls on the market. www.primos.com   


Flextone’s locator calls include the Lightning Owl and Lightning Crow. Imitating owls first thing in the morning and crows later in the day can often spark a shock gobble from an otherwise silent tom. Another way to fire up a longbeard is to use a gobbler call, like Flextone’s Thunder Shaker Gobble call. Mimicking gobbles is difficult on a box call and almost impossible with a mouth call (at least for me). A shaker-style gobble call is easy to operate, but must be used cautiously so it doesn’t attract other hunters. 

For those who have difficulty mastering a traditional diaphragm mouth call, Flextone offers the Thunder Yelper and Thunder Cluck-N-Purr hybrid mouth calls. Flextone also offers six different standard diaphragm calls, a pair of Pot Luck calls with either a glass or slate surface, and the Beard Box call. www.flextonegamecalls.com 

Hunter’s Specialties

I’ve been using Hunter’s Specialties’ turkey calls for over 30 years. Marketed under the H.S. Strut brand, these affordable and effective turkey calls can be found almost everywhere, from the smallest farm-supply shop to the largest big-box store.

Top picks include the recently released Drury Outdoors Signature box call and Drury Outdoors Signature Tongue Series mouth call four-pack, which features four unique reed cuts designed by noted call-maker Mark Drury. 

Personal favorites include the Raspy Old Hen box, which spends some time in my vest each season, and the Triple Trauma box with an adjustable lid that allows hunters to sound like three different hens. I also like the Raspy Old Hen pot call and easy-to-blow Tone Trough series of diaphragm calls. However, you really can’t go wrong with stocking any of H.S. Strut’s various calls or combo packs. www.hsstrut.com



Sitka apparel is gaining popularity among turkey hunters. Retailers should focus on the Traverse line, especially the Traverse Hoody and Traverse Pant. These garments are made of recycled materials and are extremely comfortable and tough. Another top pick is the Heavyweight Hoody which is warm without the bulk. 

Also consider stocking the Ascent line that consists of a lightweight shirt, gloves and pants for warm-weather hunting, and the windproof, Gore-Tex Jetstream Jacket for those chilly, blustery early-spring mornings. I have and use all of these items, and they cover the weather gamut from hot to cold. Another new item available this spring is the Turkey Tool Belt with all sorts of pockets for all sorts of gear. 

Sitka has several Optifade camo patterns, but Subalpine, Timber and Open Country work best for turkey hunting. www.sitkagear.com

Alps Outdoorz 

Alps Outdoorz is a leader in the outdoor industry, especially when it comes to turkey gear. “We work with retailers of all sizes,” assured Kyle Cary, who handles marketing for Alps Brands. “Mom-and-pop stores have been the backbone of our company since our start 30 years ago.”

For turkey hunters, best sellers include the Grand Slam and Super Elite turkey vests. The Grand Slam’s removable kickstand frame sets it apart from other vests by allowing hunters to comfortably sit anywhere. The Super Elite is the classic turkey vest with a fold-away seat pad and an incredible 22 pockets. I’ve got a Super Elite vest, and it has room for literally everything. 

Other top picks include the Vanish and slightly larger Vanish MC low-profile chairs that allow turkey hunters to comfortably sit close to the ground. There’s also the three-sided Dash Panel Blind that’s much lighter and more portable than a full-size blind, yet keeps shotgun and archery hunters sufficiently hidden. www.alpsoutdoorz.com 


Turkey hunters are always shopping for a new choke tube that will produce improved patterns from their shotgun. Carlson’s makes some of the best and most affordable turkey chokes and will work with retailers of any and all sizes. 

Two of Carlson’s most popular chokes are the Long Beard XR and Heavyweight TSS. The ported Long Beard XR choke is designed for shooting Winchester Long Beard XR turkey ammo, but also works well with other turkey loads. The Heavyweight TSS choke is designed for shooting Federal Heavyweight TSS turkey loads and features tighter constrictions than standard turkey chokes. Both are offered in 12-gauge, 20-gauge, and .410-bore. 

The most popular thread patterns requested for Carlson’s turkey chokes are Beretta/Benelli Mobil, Remington Rem-choke, Winchester/Browning Invector, Winchester/Browning Invector Plus, and Benelli Crio Plus. www.choketube.com 


Five Must-Stock Turkey Loads

Federal Heavyweight TSS features ultra-dense 18 g/cc Tungsten Super Shot. TSS is extremely popular right now among turkey hunters, especially .410-bore loads. 12- and 20-gauge loads also available. www.federalpremium.com  

Hevi-Shot Hevi-18 TSS also uses 18 g/cc pellets and, like Federal’s TSS loads, patterns exceptionally tight, even at longer yardages. It’s available in 12, 20, .410, and new 28-gauge loads. www.hevishot.com

Hevi-Shot Magnum Blend is my personal go-to turkey load. This triplex load features number 5, 6, and 7 shot sizes of standard 12 g/cc tungsten Hevi-Shot. It comes in 12- and 20-gauge, as well as 10-gauge. www.hevishot.com

Remington Nitro Turkey is a non-plated lead load that’s both affordable and effective. I’ve used it with great results on gobblers. It’s available in several 12-gauge offerings, as well as one 20-gauge load. www.remington.com Winchester Long Beard XR features copper-plated lead shot and Shot-Lok buffering to create tighter patterns at extended ranges, yet costs much less than tungsten shot. Available in several 12- and 20-gauge loads. www.winchester.com


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