Essential Turkey Hunting Gear

June 18, 2021 4 min read

two wild turkeys strutting in a field

Source: Steve Jamsa/

Turkey hunting is an exciting alternative to deer, elk and hog hunting because of several unique aspects. If you’re preparing for a turkey hunt, it’s critical to ensure you have the correct gear and equipment before departing on your hunting expedition. The weapons, tools and tactics needed for a successful turkey hunt differ from those of a deer hunt, so make sure you are familiar with the rules and regulations, especially if you are a novice hunter. Whether you plan on hunting Easterns, Rios, Merriam’s, Gould’s, Ocellated or Osceolas, double-check you have these essential pieces of equipment before setting out on your turkey hunt.

Hunting Weapons

If you are a gun hunter, the traditional turkey hunting weapon is the shotgun and, in most jurisdictions, it is your only option. Although some hunters may prefer using a rifle, hunting turkeys with a rifle of any kind is only legal in 12 states. For most turkey hunters, the shotgun is the way to go. You will rarely engage a turkey at distances beyond 50 yards, and most of your shots will take place between 0 and 25 yards. Most turkey hunters favor a 12-gauge pump-action or semi-automatics of some sort, typically equipped with a dedicated turkey choke, constricting the bore diameter to .665". Bowhunters rarely choose to hunt turkey with their weapon because they need to reach a full draw with their bow without scaring the turkeys off. 

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Although the 1991 ban on lead shot for hunting waterfowl did not affect turkey hunting, it is possible to find modern 12-gauge turkey loads using non-lead pellets, allowing you to choose between lead and non-load ammo for turkey hunting. If you intend to stick to lead shot, use 3” shells loaded with #4, #5, or #6 copper-plated lead shot, depending on your preference between pellet size and quantity. If you plan to hunt turkey with non-toxic ammo, prioritize shells loaded with tungsten shot. Tungsten is denser than lead, granting it higher potential killing power. Use 2-¾" or 3" shells loaded with #6 or #7 shot.

Clothing and Wearables

Bring hunting clothes with a realistic camouflage pattern matching your environment. Selecting the correct camouflage for the location and season will give you an edge and keep you hidden from the turkey’s sight. Depending on the season and the ambient temperature, you may need to plan on wearing multiple layers, a good pair of gloves and accessories such as a hat or a facemask. All of these should feature the same camouflage pattern, keeping your overall look consistent. No matter the season, do not leave home without a good pair of boots, protecting you from water, humidity, cuts and scratches. In addition, if your hunting location is known for its snake population, apply basic snake safety protocols and use a pair of snake-proof boots.

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Other Essential Gear

Turkey hunting gear also includes essential equipment that you may not use as often when hunting other animals.

a couple of ground hunting blinds

Hunting blind

    The best way to stay out of sight is to hunt from well-placed, properly brushed-in ground hunting blinds, such as the Shadow Hunter Marksman 4x6. Not only will they keep you concealed, but if the weather turns inclement (rain, storm, snow) during your hunting day, the blind keeps you dry and relatively comfortable. This allows you to continue your hunt when spot-and-stalk hunters would have called it a day.

    Turkey calls

      Learning how to use a turkey call is essential to draw the turkey to your location. You can use many different call types; some hunters even choose to make their own. Depending on the thickness of the local woods and vegetation around you, turkeys up to 200-400 yards will be able to hear your calls.


        A good pair of binoculars can allow you to spot distant turkeys if you are in an open field, helping you keep track of their location. If you are in a more densely vegetated area, their usefulness may be more limited, but it’s better to have a pair with you just in case. Consider using rangefinding binoculars instead of a standard pair, as they will allow you to determine your target’s exact distance and avoid estimating. This information is invaluable if you know your shotgun’s effective range.


          Although decoys are controversial among turkey hunters, they are essential when hunting in open fields. They are most effective when used in conjunction with a good turkey call.

          If the turkey call imitates the call of a hen, decoys imitate their appearance, allowing you to entice gobblers into approaching your location with more ease.

          a decoy in a bush

          Final Thoughts

          Shadow Hunter Blinds offers a full range of professional-grade hunting blinds in different sizes, capable of accommodating one or more hunters. All Shadow Hunter hunting blinds feature unparalleled build quality and comfort, including full flooring, silent windows and enough space to store all of your equipment. If you have any questions about our products, please call us at (888) 446-4868. We are always happy to assist our customers.