We’ll be hunting “all blacked-out” in Double Bull blinds, or in full camo “out in the open” sitting up against trees, brush piles, and other structure and vegetation along the river-bottoms and ag fields of the properties we’ll be hunting. In both cases, we’ll be setting up in strategic locations and calling the birds to us; spot and stalk hunts are kept to an absolute minimum and used only as a last resort when working lone toms and with absolute safety in mind. Remember, a large percentage of the focus of our hunt will be to help you/the hunter learn about proper set-ups, decoy placement strategies, calling strategies, etc.
What clothes should I bring?
Weather conditions in NW Kansas in April can range from below freezing in the mornings, to nearly 100 degrees during the afternoon depending on the year! Seriously – in 2012, I killed a tom in early April on a day that nearly hit 100 degrees!!! It was crazy. However... most years you’ll be dealing with temps in the mid-30’s to low 40’s in the morning, to the high 70’s during the “heat of the day.” As with most hunts, it’s best to bring/wear clothes that you can layer. Fleece, Merino Wool, or other SOFT, QUIET clothes are HIGHLY recommended!
Most years the weather is sunny and nice, however – when the farmers are lucky – we get periods of rain, so it’s wise to bring some sort of rain jacket with you. Waterproof boots are also highly recommended as many mornings find us hiking across dew-soaked fields that’ll absolutely soak your feet if your boots aren’t AT LEAST somewhat water resistant. If you have "knee-high" waterproof boots (like most rubber boots) that are comfortable to walk in over extended distances, go ahead and bring those - there are times where it is strategically advantageous to be able to cross the Solomon River, which can be crossed in most years with shin-high to calf-high boots.
What camo do you recommend?
During the early part of the season, the colors in and around the river-bottoms we’ll be hunting will primarily be tans, grays, and browns, so patterns like First Lite Fusion and/or Cypher, ASAT, Predator Brown Deception and Fall Brown, and Realtree AP, etc. work well. Leafy suits in those patterns are great as well. Later in April we’ll start to pick up a good “green component” to the landscape, so camo patterns like Kuiu Verde can be good, or patterns that are primarily brown/gray that also have components of green in it work well. Remember, turkeys see color just like we do, and are VERY good at detecting shapes and movement. Good camo goes a LONG way in helping you not be detected. And don’t forget about your head and hands; camo gloves, hats, and face masks/head nets are a must!
Do we need to worry about seeing any ticks?
Not at all – you’ll see plenty of them! LOL!!! Ticks, mosquitoes, no-see-ums/chiggers/whatever-you-call-ems will all be out there to varying degrees depending on the year and weather we’re having. The past few years haven’t been too bad, but feel free to bring tick repellent (HIGHLY recommended), bug spray, your ThermaCELL, or whatever you want to keep six- and eight-legged critters off of you. If you can, it is HIGHLY recommended that you spray your entire hunting outfit (from socks to headgear) with Sawyers Premium Insect Repellent for Clothes and Gear. ...we are not associated with Sawyer's in any way, it just works INCREDIBLY well at keeping all creepy crawlies off of you during your hunt - even after your clothes have been washed numerous times! It's worth it!
What shotgun loads do you recommend?
Let’s start with shot size: #4, #5, or #6 shot is typically what I recommend, and with all of them sent through the tightest choke your gun can shoot effectively. If your shotgun/choke combo holds very tight patterns out past 30 or 40 yards, #4’s carry significant KE that can cut through a bit of grass or leaves, and that can handle strong winds fairly well. With that said, however, you have fewer pellets with #4’s, so if you are (or think you might be) shaky on the shot, or your shotgun/choke combo doesn’t hold a tight pattern with #4’s out past 30 or 40 yards, you might want to go with #6’s. With those, you have more pellets, but they are lighter, so you need to pick “clearer” shots than when using #4’s. #5’s are the best of both worlds – if they shoot well out of your gun.
Which leads me to, “which brand?” That is entirely up to your gun, and the choke you have on it. To learn more about that concept, review our Sweet Feed video here: http://youtu.be/AGYESfmAJjk
Test different brands, different shot sizes, and even different loads (i.e. 2-3/4” versus 3” versus 3-1/2”) out of your gun to see which combo gives you the best pattern at the greatest distance. And, like the video talks about, think about some of the high-end pheasant loads as well!
This will be my kid’s first hunt – is a 20 gauge going to be ok, or do they need to shoot my 12 gauge?
If the 20 gauge patterns well out to 30 yards or more, it’ll be more than enough. The only difference between the 20 and the 12 (in many cases) is the amount of powder and “umph” it puts behind the shot. However, 20 gauge shells can have fewer pellets, so we’ll just make sure your child is as calm, steady, and collected on the shot as possible, so the shot is as accurate as possible. If you’re worried about them shooting a 20 gauge and whether it will be enough (but trust me, it will be), you can have them shoot a 12 gauge with 2-3/4” shells to reduce recoil.
I’d like to bowhunt – what broadhead do you recommend?
You can absolutely use whatever broadhead you use* for deer, elk or other big-game, BUT... I have a couple recommendations if you’re interested in something different.
Although turkeys are “small,” they can be tough! With some of the smaller fixed-blade broadheads, you can make a perfect shot through the vitals and still have the bird run off – or worse yet, fly off – and have a tough tracking job, if not downright lose it. In my opinion, if you can lop their head off, or at least carve a GIANT hole through their vitals, you should.
For fixed-blade "head-chopper" broadheads, I really love the Magnus Bullheads. A second choice for me would be the Diamond-Edition Gobbler Guillotines. To learn more about these heads, and what you need to do in order to shoot them well, check out the video Kurt Geist and I did on them here: http://youtu.be/QiZFNEi2f3w
After that, Slick Tricks, RamCats, and other “large diameter” fixed-blades would be my choice.
For mechanical broadheads, I recommend shooting the largest cutting diameter head you can find and shoot well. Rage, Swhacker, Rocket, and other broadhead manufacturers, all make large cutting diameter heads that work great on turkeys. Seriously, with most modern bows these days producing incredible amounts of Kinetic Energy (KE) – even at lower poundages – you can use LARGE mechanicals! *NOTE: Kansas Hunting Regulations require that arrows used for hunting big game and turkeys be equipped with
broadhead points that cannot pass through a ring 3/4-inch in diameter
when fully expanded.
I’ve turkey hunted a little bit before, so – should I bring my calls/decoys, or will we use yours?
Both!!! Definitely bring your calls and decoys (if you have any), and we’ll work with both yours and mine. Remember, this hunt is about teaching you to be successful in the field, and practicing with the calls and decoys you own is a big part of that. The degree to which you want to call and use your decoys is up to you, but definitely bring them.