It is a well-known fact that turkeys have exceptional vision and are quite easily spooked and therefore dressing for turkey hunting comprises of both common sense and taking into consideration a few key elements.
How to dress for turkey hunting. The truth is, wild turkeys are quite paranoid and elusive. Combine that with their advanced vision and you have a challenging target for hunters. For these reasons, you should aim for extraordinary camouflage when dressing for your turkey hunt. In fact, your apparel when turkey hunting plays an unmistakable part in your success out in the woods.
The first quick and easy rule to remember is to dress comfortably since you may be sitting for long periods at a time. Make sure your clothes are warm enough when it is cold, by starting with an adequate base layer. Then top up with a few layers to stay warm in early morning temperatures and work down through the layers as the day progresses and the temperature rises.
Characteristics for Turkey Hunting Clothes
A few key elements determine the type and specifications for turkey hunting. Following these easy guidelines might just land you the desired Tom.
We have already established that turkeys have exceptional vision which makes full camouflage a necessity and not an option. The flip side of the coin is that having the wrong camouflage might present a big problem too.
See, that will make you stand out from your surroundings and if you do not blend in, the turkey will immediately perceive you as something “out of place.”
In order to prevent this, you may consider the type of terrain where you will hunt when assembling your apparel. In addition to this, the season is quite important too. In early spring you will naturally wear more browns and grays for camouflage, but as spring progresses, your camouflage gear and clothes should include more greens and lighter colors.
When turkey hunting, you should always avoid wearing any red, blue or white clothes. Since these colors may bear a resemblance to a turkey’s head, it could put you in danger when other hunters mistake you for a tom.
It is important to also keep in mind that, depending on which State you go turkey hunting in, you might be required to add fluorescent orange to your apparel. Although fluorescent orange is not part of your camouflage, it is an important safety regulation and it is thus best to check the applicable state game laws before obtaining your apparel.
Not sure what the best hunting camo is for your area? Visit the Realtree® Camo Guide to assist you with the area as well as the species you are hunting.
When Camouflage is not a good idea
As important as camouflage is when turkey hunting, there comes a time when it is not such a good idea. This happens when you hunt from a ground blind.
Most often, the inner lining of your blind will be black or heavily shaded. Keeping this background in mind, it is easy to see that camouflage patterns will not blend into your surroundings adequately but will stand out.
Again, a turkey will perceive this as “different” and not blending into the surroundings. Consequently, when you dress to hunt turkeys from your ground blind, your apparel should be primarily black or at least dark camouflage.
The only problem that may arise from this, is that you might have to wear camouflage when walking to your location, but wear dark or black when inside the blind. To solve this, you could flip your apparel inside out if the lining is black. Alternativey, you should consider packing both sets of clothes and change once you are inside the blind.
When in the blind it is not necessary to wear your face-mask, but it becomes unavoidable when leaving your blind for whatever reason.
Comfort & Flexibility
This might just be one of the most important considerations when deciding on what to wear for turkey hunting. When feeling uncomfortable you will inevitably move and fidget quite often. Since turkeys are easily spooked, moving and fidgeting will result in an unsuccessful hunt.
The flexibility of your clothes is not only important for your own comfort and to prevent fidgeting, but also to offer you the opportunity to move around without making unnecessary noise.
Opt for a lightweight fabric that will offer ease of movement and that will not slow you down.
As we have already mentioned, wearing fluorescent orange when turkey hunting is a safety requirement in some states. Familiarize yourself with your state’s specific requirements and laws regarding fluorescent orange apparel for turkey hunting.
Colors in nature are affected by seasonal changes, and will, therefore, require different clothes for different times of the year.
Since camouflage is all about blending into the surroundings, the perfect camouflage will resemble the colors and patterns of the area where you hunt.
To layer or not to layer and the type of clothes you choose, will depend strongly on the weather and the temperatures while hunting.
Toward the end of the turkey hunting season, the temperatures rise significantly. During this time you should consider wearing clothes that are designed to allow air to circulate.
Essential Apparel for Turkey Hunting
Turkey hunting is an all-day exercise, and since mornings can be somewhat chillier than the rest of the day, layering is your best option. Keep in mind though, that every layer should be camouflaged.
One thing all turkey hunters know is that you have to be able to adapt while in the woods. The clothes you choose should be practical and versatile to make provision for this.
The ¼ zip shirt is ideal for this purpose since it is available in insulated and non-insulated variations. It can furthermore be worn alone or be layered on cool mornings.
Always choose waterproof turkey hunting pants, or opt for camouflage rain pants. Additionally, your pants should be lightweight, camouflaged and quiet. Choose pants with more insulation when the season and weather requires it and also layer for extra warmth.
The terrain plays a fundamental part in the choice of boots for turkey hunting. For instance, a calf-high rubber boot will suffice on flatter terrain. However, a more rugged and rocky environment will require boots with a little more support.
Make sure that the boots you choose are also comfortable and not too heavy.
Furthermore, the season you hunt in is a determining factor for your choice of boots. This will influence the level of insulation needed as well as the type of socks you wear with them.
An important tip to remember is that if you normally tuck your pant legs into your boots, then your boots should preferably have a camouflage exterior.
As with hunting any wild animal, it is mandatory to camouflage your face and hands too when hunting turkeys. Go for lightweight gloves that offer sufficient grip.
Some gloves are thin to ensure the precise pull of a trigger or bow release, while others are thick and insulated for colder temperatures. For this reason, you might opt for two pairs of gloves.
When it comes to covering your face and head, there are a few options available to choose from, but make sure that the one you choose offers adequate breathability.
The first option is a net (or hunting mask), which is typically made of a thin mesh material to cover your face. Some varieties make provision for holes cut out for your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Half-masks do not cover your eyes to allow a wider field of vision.
Some hunters dislike nets and prefer face-paint instead. Face-paint might be a more comfortable preference for them and there are indeed many different kits to choose from, but they all require application and clean-up time.
To cover your head you will obtain a camouflage ball cap if the temperatures are not too low. For cooler weather, a variety of insulated headgear and beanies are available.
Any turkey hunter should invest in a quality turkey vest. It typically consists of numerous pockets designed to carry all your gear efficiently and without making unnecessary noise.
Some designs on the market offer an additional game bag to make your walk easy after landing a tom.
You may also look out for turkey vests that offer a built-in seat or extra padding to provide some comfort when leaning against trees.
Unlike hunting big game such as deer, you do not need to apply scent control for turkey hunting.
Turkeys cannot smell you, so your focus should be on outsmarting their enhanced vision rather than applying scent control techniques.
Turkey Hunting Checklist
Although the first step to successful turkey hunting is obtaining the appropriate apparel, there is some additional gear that you cannot and should not go without.
Except for the blind you could fit most of them in your turkey vest.
- Turkey Calls (check out our article about How to Call Turkeys)
- Hunting License
- Hunting Knife
- Camo Butt Cushion
- Collapsible Turkey Decoys
- Bug Repellent
- Flashlight or Headlamp
- First Aid Kit
- Water Bottle or Hydration Pack
- Compass, Map or GPS Unit to Reach Your Destination Without Getting Lost
- Hunting Toilet Paper
- High Energy Hunting Snacks
Happy turkey hunting!