Author: Michael D. Faw
A turkey hunting vest should be more than a place to store calls, shotshells and your lunch.
There are many features and personal preferences that should be considered when you seek the perfect hunting vest to wear afield. Today you’ll find a wide selection of features, camouflage and prices to select from when you want a vest to settle on your shoulders. So, which one is the right one for you? Well, it all depends. A vest’s features should all work together to help you be a more successful hunter — period. With more than dozen vests to choose from, a Cabela’s catalog and www.cabelas.com are the best places to start your hunt for the perfect turkey hunting vest.
The first thing to consider is the vest’s suspension system and overall construction and design. Wide or padded straps are a plus to have in a vest, especially if you have a large collection of turkey hunting gear that you’ll never hit the woods without. You want plenty of on-the-shoulder surface to bear the load without pulling your shoulders down or digging into your flesh. Next, it helps if the vest has a waist belt or inner support system to help keep the load of gear close to your body and snug around your waist. Your hips can support a load easier than your shoulders, and you’ll want your shoulders rested when it’s time to snuggle up to the shotgun stock. In some vests you’ll find added support with a securely closed front that’s zipped, buttoned or snapped when worn. A vest should be expandable so you can adjust the snugness as you add or remove clothing layers during a hunt. Spend lots of time pondering any vest’s suspension and load bearing qualities. In this category Cabela’s Couch Potato and Super Tat’r vests stand at the top.
The next thing to consider is the number and size of pockets. Zip-closed pockets will help you prevent losing your valuable and lucky calls. If you lose your lucky call, your hunting luck normally goes with it! Some turkey hunting vests have specially designed pockets to hold different types of calls securely and quietly while protecting them. When it comes to the number of pockets needed on a vest, one to two dozen is about right. If a vest has more pockets than that, you’ll spend valuable hunting time picking through pockets in search of gear. I also like the pockets inside of pockets, it’s like having built in organizers. Consider also how many pockets are on each side of the vest. Since I’m right handed, I like to keep my calls on the right side of my vest. They’re easier to stow and remove when I’m sitting and talking to a gobbler.
And when it comes to pockets, you’ll want a large one in the rear for raingear and for storing a turkey in as you return to your starting point. A blood-proof game bag that’s easy to clean — and that work’s to help keep you clean — is always a bonus in hunting vest design. It helps if this pocket is expandable in case you bag a big bird or want to pack a lot of gear out on your hunt.
Another important factor to ponder when selecting a turkey hunting vest is the wearer comfort when seated. When you’re waiting for a strutting gobbler to come into gun range, the perfect vest lets you wait in maximum comfort. This is a critical factor for many hunters. They desire the maximum amount of cushioning between them and the ground plus a padded back so that a tree’s bark does not bite into their spine. Thick waterproof padding and inflatable tubes work best. Make a poor selection with a thin seat — or no seat at all — and you’ll find that small pebbles become boulders and twigs become intolerable logs when you’re sitting on top of them. Here Cabela’s Fat Tire Turkey Vest is the clear winner. The vest has an inflatable inner tube seat and you can purchase a spare tire in case a Texas cactus or South Dakota tree root reaches your tube. This seat quickly detaches from the vest with quick release buckles that you can easily reach — a real bonus when you’re in a hurry as a gobbler is approaching.
The next best thing is a seat full of soft, cushy foam. The thicker, the better here. If you select a vest with a foam filled seat, be certain that the layer nearest the ground is closed cell foam or it will absorb water and you will get wet — period. And when you want maximum padding, Cabela’s Super Tat’r vest has a padded back and thick padded seat. Ok, don’t get too comfortable and fall asleep or your snoring will scare the gobblers away!
It’s also important to have a cushy and comfortable seat that is quick to secure when you need to move on. Snaps and buckles along the side are the common ways of securing a seat against the back of a vest. An unsecured seat will hit against the back of your legs and make a disturbing flapping noise with each step you take. A noisy vest lets turkeys know you’re near — a situation you’ll want to avoid if you plan to eat wild turkey.
If you want to take a seat that also offers a commanding view of the ground before you, look at the Deluxe Padded Back Camo Chair. The spacious 12" x 13" seat cradles you 15" off the ground, and the seat back has a foam-padded crossbar for all-day cushioned support.
A stealthy vest will have shotshell holders built inside of a pocket in a location where they are convenient and quick to reach. Nothing screams "hunter is near" like a pocket full of rattling and banging shotshells.
In the ultra-stealth category, you’ll want a vest in your favorite camouflage pattern so that you can blend in with your natural surroundings. This could be a pattern that’s predominately brown in the early season — before new vegetation debuts — and one that’s predominately green in the last days of the season when green foliage has overpowered your hunting area. All snaps, buckles and zippers on the vest should be black, subdued or covered with a cloth flap. You’ll want nothing shiny to reveal your presence to a keen-eyed gobbler that’s staring straight at you.
On the other hand, there’s a time when it’s important to be seen by everyone in the woods — like when you’re toting a turkey out. Then you’ll want a vest with an orange safety cloth panel or ribbons of blaze orange hanging from the front and rear.
Finally, the question is what should your vest be constructed of? On opening day when the air temperatures tend to be chilly, thick durable cloth will help you stay warm. You’ll want cloth that’s rugged yet quiet. By the end of season, when you’ll be sweating in warmer daytime temperatures, you might consider a mesh cloth vest to permit body heat to escape. A low-cut vest with an open harness system will also help you beat the heat.
If you punish your gear by hunting long and hard, then Cabela’s 15-Pocket Turkey Guide Vest might be another good option for you. This vest is constructed of a rugged 60/40 poly/cotton blend fabric that can withstand abuse season after season. This vest buttons and wears like a vest in your best dress suit. It’s also offered in Cabela’s popular Seclusion 3D camouflage — a pattern that hunters have, but turkeys have not, discovered yet.
Click this link for more information on Turkey Hunting Vests.