Hip or not, you can still kill wild turkeys


We all have friends who are always on the band wagon of the “hot new thing” when it comes to turkey hunting. The newest ammunition, the newest vests and clothing, decoys, and calls. I’ll honestly admit that even I sometimes jump in on the excitement when something new comes out. Unless you’re actively trying, it’s quite hard to stay on top of and up to date with all the new advancements in an industry that generates billions of dollars in retail sales each year.

So where does that leave the average gobbler hunter? The type of hunter that after paying the bills, putting food on the table for their family and splurging on a hunting license and a few necessities has very little disposable income to throw at something that’s not always at the top of our priority list? It leaves most of us in a place that seeks to stay informed and up to date, but in doing so, won’t break the bank. In some cases it leaves us coveting things other have and things we want, and not focusing on getting the job done with what’s in our pocket.

So the question looms, what does it take to bag a gobbler? As many old timers such as my grandfather, and many generations prior to those men have proven over the years, the answer is nothing fancy. The fact is, old timers were killing turkeys in red flannel with two and three-quarter inch shells fired from single shots with calls fashioned from peanut butter jar lids and in some cases even more primitive than that.

Up until a few years ago when I decided to make a few upgrades, I religiously wore the same exact pair of camo coveralls that were handed down to me from my grandfather. I used the same discount decoys I could buy, a hand me down turkey call or two and the cheapest ammo I could get. I carried an all-black Winchester 1300, not camo, and it only shot 3-inch shells instead of being on the 3 1/2-inch bandwagon. I’m not bragging that those things led many turkeys to meet their demise, but they did, and it’s proof that success doesn’t hinge on the things that are expensive nor what is new.

As a man who builds turkey calls, it somewhat pains me to admit this, but there are nearly endless options on the shelves of your local retailer. It doesn’t take an expensive custom-made call to do the job. The sound quality might not be quite as good, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to give your bearded foe a massive headache. The same is said for mismatched, discount camouflage, inexpensive shotgun rounds and cheap blow-up or foam decoys. Are those things top of the line? No. Will they work? Absolutely.

The best thing to remember when you head to the woods is to not wish you had something else, but to utilize what you do have and be confident in it to work when you need it. Whether you’re new to turkey hunting or have been doing it for years, you’ll soon realize if you haven’t already that it doesn’t matter if you have $1,000 worth of gear or $100, you can be just as successful as the next guy by using skill, and woodsmanship paired with the best gear you can assemble.

Hunt hard, hunt safe and shoot straight, friends.


John Knouse writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.