Outdoors

For The Independent/Jarrod Spilger

A box call is one of the most versatile and effective turkey tools.

While shotguns and ammo are certainly important, decoys, blinds, calls, and various other items also play an essential role in ensuring spring turkey hunting success. Here are some new pieces of gear gobbler chasers should consider toting into the woods this spring.

Turkey decoys can help lure a wary longbeard within range, and are getting more realistic every year. Some of the best are made by Avian X.

This spring, Avian X introduced the new Heavy Duty Realism (HDR) jake, a full-body decoy posed in a half-strut position. The HDR jake is intended to agitate, not intimidate, mature toms, and comes with two removable head designs, one aggressive and one submissive, to spark just the right amount of jealousy in an old gobbler.

Paired with Avian X’s ultra-realistic LCD hen decoys, available in four poses, this fake flock should spur an envious longspur into investigating. Of course, never use a jake decoy on public land or where there’s a chance other hunters may be hunting.

Decoys are effective, but calling is even more important to spring success. In the right hands, a turkey call can lure longbeards in from great distances.

Boxes are the most elementary and easiest to use turkey call type. Bass Pro Shops’ Red Head brand introduced several new box calls this spring.

Top picks include the Ozark Bottoms model with a butternut box and Brazilian cherry lid, and the Heritage Series model with a sassafras box and walnut lid. The latter produces smooth yelps, clucks, and purrs, while the former creates ringing, high-frequency sounds ideal for long-distance calling.

Red Head also offers several new slate and mouth calls in its Ozark Bottoms and Heritage Series lines.

The new Primos Clear Cutter box was designed by someone who really understands box call operation. To make realistic cuts on a box, which are a series of sharp, fast clucks, one must place the thumb of the off-side hand against the lid and quickly tap the lid with the strong-side hand.

To easily facilitate this action, the Clear Cutter has a built-in thumb indentation. This box will also make realistic yelps and other turkey sounds.

Another type of call every turkey hunter should be proficient with is the slate or pot call. These calls feature a round “pot” with a surface made of slate, glass, or other materials. A wooden or plastic striker is scratched across the surface to makes sounds, much like one would write with a pencil.

Primos’ new Foggy Bottom pot call comes with a glass surface and wooden striker. The pot itself is covered in original Mossy Oak Bottomland camo to conceal the call when placed on the ground as a gobbler approaches.

The Foggy Bottom is extremely loud, yet can be toned down to produce softer sounds, making it a great all-around choice for both long- and close-range calling.

Zink’s Thunder Ridge pot call has a crystal surface that’s also very loud. It comes with a wood striker and rubber easy-grip ring to help create ultra-realistic turkey sounds.

My go-to pot call for many years was Quaker Boy’s Magic Touch slate. It’s still the only call my dad uses. Recently, Quaker Boy updated the Magic Touch with a glass surface.

Unlike most glass or crystal calls, whose surface must be roughed up with sandpaper before they’ll make a sound, the Magic Touch Glass doesn’t need conditioning with sandpaper before use. It’s ready to go right out of the box. This revamped model has the same mellow tone as the original slate model.

To carry all these calls, you’ll need a good vest. The Alps Outdoorz Super Elite 4.0 is a remake of the original Mossy Oak National Wild Turkey Federation vest that was popular many years ago. It even has the familiar NWTF patch on the left side and plenty of pockets to carry a variety of calls.

Cabela’s Tactical Tat’r strap vest also has lots of pockets for all those boxes and slates. Both vests come in Mossy Oak Obsession camo, which is the perfect pattern for blending into the greening spring woods.

Sitka’s new Ascent clothing line comes in versatile Optifade Subalpine camo, another pattern with plenty of greens, browns, and tans ideal for spring hunting. These lightweight pants, shirts, gloves, and caps are designed to keep you cool in hot weather.

Finally, the new Double Bull Stakeout blind provides an unobstructed field of view yet keeps ground seated hunters hidden. This portable, two-sided, roofless pop-up blind has three triangular windows and weighs just 4.5-pounds, making it a great choice for run-and-gun turkey chasers.

Gear up and good luck this spring.

Jarrod Spilger writes an outdoor column for The Independent.

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