As turkey seasons are opening across the country, I find myself packing for my second trip of the season. I was lucky enough to be a part of a group trip to Florida to hunt Osceolas and test a bunch of products new to the market. Some were new in 2018, others are probably just hitting the stores as you read this. Here’s a rundown of what’s new and fancy in the turkey woods.
We’re all guilty of over-packing our turkey vests at times or carrying way too much gear on a run-and-gun style hunt. The Vantage Bino Harness solves that problem. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s not just a bino harness. The pack has a removable box call pocket, a back panel that accommodates one slate call and two strikers, two mesh side pockets for mouth calls, and a front accessory pouch that contains a lens cloth for your binoculars. The entire harness is fully adjustable and will fit any body shape or size. The upside of this small pack goes beyond the turkey woods, as you can take the box call accessory off and utilize it year-round as your primary bino harness.
After the wildly popular and highly talked about SurroundView technology dropped last year with the full line of blinds from Primos, they decided to add a compact version. SurroundView technology features a one-way see-through fabric, allowing the hunter to see through it, while the game cannot see in. This eliminates any blind spots previous blinds on the market are known for. The Stake-out Blind is a two-hub, dual panel blind that sets up and collapses in seconds, and packs down small enough to fit in your decoy bag or the back of your turkey vest. It features 3 shooting windows and is very adjustable, depending on your terrain and setup location.
Federal Premium Heavyweight TSS
Handloaders have been using TSS for years, but the word is out, and Federal Premium made it easier for the general public to access TSS loads. TSS stands for tungsten super shot, and it’s 22% denser than tungsten, and 56% denser than lead. What does this mean? It means that you can hit gobblers at much farther distances, with a lot more force than your old turkey loads. It also allows you to use smaller shot size, which increases the amount of pellets you’re sending downrange. Heavyweight TSS is offered in 12 variations in .410, 20 gauge, and 12 gauge. While testing it the last couple of seasons, I’ve been seeing pattern densities of over 80% at 40 yards. If you’re shooting 500 pellets, that means that over 400 of them are seeing a 20” circle. The stuff hits hard, patterns well, and changes the way you’ll look at decoy placement. No more worrying about birds hanging up at 42 yards.
TSS Specific Choke Tubes
With the popularity of TSS, a lot of companies are making choke tubes specifically for TSS loads. Since it’s very dense, and the pellet count is so high, traditional choke tubes may not pattern TSS well. Over-constriction can be a problem. Indian Creek has extended ported tubes that are designed specifically for TSS loads. Primos also makes the Jellyhead TSS. Since Primos is associated with Vista Outdoor, the parent company to Federal, the testing done with Federal’s Heavyweight TSS and the Jellyhead TSS make for a pretty solid team. The Jellyhead TSS extended choke tube has a constriction of .650 in my 12 gauge, and patterns everything from Hevi-Shot, TSS, and standard lead very well.
Gamehide Elimitick Mossy Oak Obsession Bundle
Elimitick clothing has been popular amongst turkey hunters for a while now, but it’s getting to the point where it’s almost imperative that you own and wear it in the spring. Places in the Midwest where deer ticks that carry tick-borne illnesses live in huge numbers are places that you’re going to want to have some extra tick repellent. Soaking clothes in Permethrin can be expensive, dangerous, and time-consuming. Buying a set of Elimitick gear each spring is more than worth its weight in gold. Ticks absolutely hate the fabric, which has a special repellant blend bonded to it. The repellant is long-lasting, and can serve you well for several seasons if taken care of. If you wash the stuff regularly, you can expect about 70 washes out of each piece. The bundle comes with a breathable long-sleeved shirt, pants, gloves, and a facemask. I also recommend a pair of the socks as an add-on. Elimitick repels ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, flies, and no-see-ums. As turkey hunters, we all encounter most of these annoying insects throughout our season.
Stevens 301 Turkey .410 Shotgun
With the popularity of TSS loads, many states are now allowing the use of .410 shotguns for turkeys. This is a great option for youth or new hunters, as the 301 Turkey from Stevens is a very light and fast handling single-shot .410. It’s low-recoil, but heavy hitting with TSS loads. The 301 features a 26” barrel and an extended turkey choke tube, as well as a removable top rail that is optics-ready. Loaded up with some #9 shot, putting down gobblers out to 50 yards is no problem for this .410; believe it or not. With a price tag of only $199, this little gun is something every parent should consider for their youth, and once they handle it, I can promise that the youth in them will come screaming out.
Have a Great Season
This list could go on forever, but a few choices had to be made on some of the essential gear for 2019. While there are a ton of new things on the market, the aforementioned were things that I have been absolutely impressed with. Be sure to check out some of them, and good luck this season. May your calls be raspy, and your tags be filled…
Author – Matthew Breuer