Dedicated outerwear for hunting specific game is usually an optional luxury. However, since turkey hunting involves such specialized gear and a particular style of hunting, turkey vests have become de rigueur for most serious turkey hunters. You can use backpacks or slings, but the relatively low cost of a turkey vest makes it a no-brainer if you turkey hunt a lot since a vest provides tailored features that make your hunts more comfortable and efficient.
One unique aspect of turkey hunting is that it usually involves long sits on cold ground. As a result, most vests incorporate some kind of padded seat which often detaches to streamline things if you won’t be using it. Technical pockets in front keep your calls, strikers, and extra shells front and center to minimize your movements to maintain concealment and increase your odds of bagging a bird.
Best Turkey Vests
What to Consider When Choosing a Turkey Vest
How technical does it need to be?
A lightweight and minimalist turkey vest is ideal for run-and-gun hunters who want to be more mobile in the field, while a more technical vest with larger pockets and a thicker, padded seat is better for hunters who plan to sit for hours on end.
For those who have a long hike out after a successful day of hunting, an extra-large game pouch or harvest strap comes in handy for hauling out a 20-plus pound bird with a 16-inch tail and sharp spurs on its legs. If you plan to spot and stalk, or if you hunt in western states where you may be traversing vast expanses of land, make sure your vest/pack combo isn’t so heavy that it becomes a burden.
How much storage do you need?
Depending on what you carry with you, you may want larger or fewer pockets. To prevent calls, strikers, shells, and other items from falling out when belly crawling or maneuvering through brambles and briars, look for pockets with a magnetic or zipper closure. If you use a box call, get a vest with a box call pouch. Hunters who spend a long time in the field may want to look for a vest with pockets big enough for a water bottle, decoy, insect repeller, and food.
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How should a turkey vest fit?
A turkey vest should fit close to the body and snug at the midsection. If it’s too large, it can hang loose and catch branches, vines, and limbs, and even hinder shooting. It may also cause excess noise when you’re traversing the woods, especially if you’re moving quickly to head off a bird at the pass. Keep in mind that most products listed as “one size fits most” can have their limitations, and every product fit varies. Check the manufacturer’s size chart.
Do I need a vest with an incorporated seat?
With the popularity of turkey stools, chairs, and loungers, many turkey hunters no longer use the attached padded seat on turkey vests. Most, if not all, turkey vests include detachable padded seats. If you plan to use a vest with an incorporated seat, look for one with ample room to comfortably sit on the ground for long periods of time. Also look for a multilayer cushion with a water-resistant bottom to keep dew and wet ground from soaking through and ruining your day.
Choose the right pattern for your area
If you are hunting in southern states, for example, where pines are abundant and the woods are already green in early spring, you will want to choose patterns that include a variety of green. Some brands use Gore Optifade Concealment, a camo technology designed to fool the eyes of wild game (rather than from the perspective of the hunter) and that can be used in various terrain.