Spring turkey season is likely the best season of all to take the family hunting. Unlike deer hunting where you generally sit and freeze in a stand, a turkey hunt is an active hunt in delightful weather where the skills of woodsmanship, stealth, calling and maneuvering are utilized each time out. The downside? It's tough to be successful if your youngster is fidgety, because wild turkeys have the keenest eyes in all of the woods. Anyone who's hunted these birds knows they can see in color, and can spot the slightest movement from 100 yards away. Camouflage clothing is essential for concealing small movements. Additionally, springtime weather is generally cool in the early morning but warms up quickly. Therefore, lightweight, layered clothing is preferred. Here are some turkey-specific camouflaged clothing choices for the entire family so you can hunt comfortably now and eat wild turkey later.
For Dad Redhead Stalker Lite II Camo Pants (34.99) and Long Sleeve Shirt (24.99) in Mossy Oak Obsession camo pattern is lightweight for warm-season hunting yet will not break the bank. The durable pants have six pockets for carrying much of your gear, and stretchable material that resists ripping-and your child from laughing-when you sit down to call. www.basspro.com
It's fitting for the old man of the family to buy a vest from Ol' Tom. The company's Time and Motion Turkey Vest ($120) is well designed with its specific gear pockets and padded seat. Worn zipped, it will keep your core warm on chilly mornings, yet allows freedom of movement. When the weather heats up by mid-morning, simply unzip it. For turkey hunting a vest is a must-have for keeping your calls and accoutrements organized and handy. www.oltomgobbler.com
For any hunting you do, a good pair of comfortable, quiet and waterproof boots is an essential, so your footwear is not the place to skimp. Danner makes some of the best boots in the business, but its Jackal II ($140) is not overly priced. Its 1000 Denier nylon upper is tough as nails, yet lightweight and fully camouflaged with Realtree's APG HD pattern that's perfect for the spring woods. Its rubber Phantom outsole provides silent traction even across wet rocks. Most importantly, a Gore-Tex lining keeps your feet dry and happy all day long. www.danner.com
For Mom or Teen Daughter Prois is a relatively new company that makes apparel designed specifically for women. It's pricey, but it will fit her, and when she's comfortable, so is the whole family. The company's lightweight Ultra Pants ($119) and Ultra Longsleeve Shirt ($56) are made for the spring woods. The pants feature a women's style boot cut made from polyester fabric that the company touts as soft, sturdy, silent and snag resistant. It has ample pockets that use silent magnetic closures. The Ultra Longsleeve t-shirt is a lightweight polyester shirt with a mock-turtle neck. It will keep her cool, camouflaged and guarded against insects. Wear it alone or as a base layer. www.proishunting.com
The Pro-edition Jacket ($229) from Prois is a good idea even for turkey season because the springtime air can be chilly in mornings before dawn, and you can't have her shivering in the woods and expect to call a turkey into her gun. It's made of three-ply fabric including a laminate to stop the wind. Its outer layer is silent and water resistant. The garment is form-fitting for her, yet allows easy movement. Thumbholes keep the sleeves where they need to be. www.proishunting.com
Respected boot maker Wolverine makes a great waterproof camo boot for women called the Panther ($115). It even has a touch of pink on its lace. Features include 8-inch, full-grain leather and 1000 Denier nylon uppers that make it lightweight and flexible, yet extremely tough. Its OrthoLite footbed provides great support for flatland walking and hill traversing, and its rubber outsole is grippy and quiet. This boot can be used for fall and winter seasons with its 600 grams of Thinsulate. Plus, it just looks good on her. www.wolverine.com
For Youngsters I know what your son wants, and that is top-of-the-line gear. If you're agreeable, there is Under Armour. Costly, yes, but it's good stuff. It fits well, is tough and water-resistant, hunts good and looks really cool. Buy the boy's Ayton Pant ($89) and the Boys' Charged Cotton Camo Long Sleeve T-Shirt ($34) and you'll be somewhere between hero and Santa Claus. www.underarmour.com
If you're looking for something less expensive, try the Lucky Zones Youth Camo Long Sleeve Shirt ($12) and the Youth Six Pocket Camo Fatigue Pants ($22) from Cabela's. They are lightweight and therefore perfect for spring seasons, and they have plenty of pockets for all his stuff. They'll work just fine for a kid who outgrows his clothes in a year; they just don't have the flashy fluorescent-colored logo on the side of them that raises its price. www.cabelas.com
Cabela's Youth 2-fer Jacket ($41) features a vest and a hoodie all in one. The knitted fleece vest features Cabela's proprietary Seclusion 3d camo and features a Velcro inside pocket. The hoodie is soft and quiet. We recommend it for the turkey woods when it's cool, and at school where he'll also be cool in his new camo. www.cabelas.com
Accessories Nearly every manufacturer listed above makes gloves, but I especially like Red Head's Spandex Dot Grip Gloves ($9) because they are inexpensive, fit well, and have rubberized gripping surfaces so you can grab your shotgun or your child as she slips down a creek bank. Cut the thumb and forefinger out of them for extra feel when working a slate or box call, something that's harder to bring yourself to do if you pay $40 for a pair of gloves. Your hands move more than any part of your body, and so you need gloves to mask them and to protect them from mosquitoes. www.basspro.com
A hat keeps you warm when it's cool, cool when it's hot and the sun out of your eyes. You've probably got a camo hat around the house, but if you don't, consider a flashlight hat like the Pathfinder LED cap ($24) from L.L. Bean. It's handy before dawn as you search for your gear and pick your way through the thorny woods. www.llbean.com
A facemask is vital because nothing is as glaringly obvious as your staring, ugly mug when a dominant gobbler struts into your lap. Hunter's Specialties makes a great one in its Camo Spandex ¾ facemask ($10). Buy several of them, as they are so effective that many times you can't find them. Face paint also works well, but it doesn't offer protection against mosquitoes.
Now all you need is a gun, ammo, a willing turkey, skill and luck-plenty of luck!
Sidebar: Looking Snaky Out There?
Snake-proof boots give peace of mind while hunting in regions where rattlesnakes or copperheads are prevalent-or for people who are phobic-because it's tough to hunt if your eyes are looking down all the time and not ahead. While snake encounters are rare, they are a possibility in the spring woods when snakes are active and the grass is tall, so you can't always see where you step. Just about every major hunting boot company makes snake-proof boots. The downside? In general they're hot, and tough to take on and off. Rocky Boots makes a great product called the Lynx Waterproof Snake Boot ($169). It's got 16 inches of tough, fang-proof Cordura uppers, and a side zipper that makes them a cinch to take on and off. www.rockyboot.com
A Note on Camo:
Any clothing that blends in with the environment-simple greens, browns, blacks and tans-is better than bright colors, but some camo patterns are printed to actually look like sticks, leaves and trees. Some have specific applications-such as cattail patterns for waterfowl hunting, or white for hunting in the snow, for example-but before buying expensive new camo clothing it's important to ask where and when you intend to hunt most often.
Most turkey hunting takes place in the spring woods, where dark trees and green foliage dominate. So, if it's likely you'll hunt in deep woods, pick a dark pattern, like Realtree Hardwoods Green HD. If however, you live in South Dakota or Texas where sagebrush or mesquite rule the landscape, choose a lighter, more open pattern such as Realtree Max 1 or Mossy Oak Brush. Also, keep in mind that camouflage is intended to mitigate small movements, but no amount of camo will make you invisible to a turkey if you're not still.