Whether or not turkey hunting is, was, or might be your game, there’s a lot more to winning it than most people think. You can have the best turkey hunting gun, the best camo, the best… Well, before you can pull the trigger on whatever you conclude is the best turkey hunting gun and ammo, you will first need to play games reminiscent of your favorite spy movies.
What “The Best ___” for Turkey Hunting Isn’t
What is the best? Well, that’s often subjective and I invite you to add your comments on “the best turkey hunting fill-in-the-blank” in the comments. We can probably agree on what “the best…” isn’t.
My first turkey hunt was more than a decade ago. My in-laws invited me to set up in a nearby deer blind built for two. My son, then an elementary school-aged kid, accompanied me. This was before the SHWAT™ era and I took my only shotgun, a Remington 1100 I’d bought when I was thirteen.
The only success we scored was silently completing the Brick Breaker game on my Blackberry cell phone. And by “we” I mean my son. We had no calls, the turkey were just supposed to walk by. I guess they didn’t get the memo that day. Clearly, I cannot address “the best” anything for turkey hunting then.
Fast forward and I’m filming a Grand Slam Turkey hunt. We start in Florida, hunting in Texas and Colorado before we wrap. Though I only shot with cameras, by the time we finished I knew plenty about what is not the best turkey hunting… The guide traveled with us, and he was not professional. I’ll stop there, but I could go on, and on… None of the hunters got their Grand Slam.
With those experiences solidified in my mind, turkey hunting was not a high priority. I did, however, establish a low basis for what I might call “the worst” of turkey hunting.
The Best Turkey Hunting Guide in Colorado
Admittedly, I’ve only been around two turkey hunting guide outfits in Colorado. While the first set a very low bar, the second would seem hard to compete with in Colorado or anywhere else. Fred and Michelle Eichler (Fulldraw Outfitters) live an amazing hunting lifestyle in Southern Colorado. Set aside their TV shows, their global hunting exploits and collection of really cool dogs. The Eichler family is the embodiment of hunting hospitality, skill, and enthusiasm.
Literally, I’ve never been around a more upbeat, happy, and professional hunter in my life. He reminds me of the best Labrador Retrievers I’ve seen working duck hunts. Michelle is an amazing chef who prepared amazing meals for us from elk, mountain lion, and a variety pack of other culinary wonders. The three boys all contribute as well.
The oldest drives their ag operations. The youngest, still in school down the road, cares for animals and discharges other responsibilities that might daunt others twice his age. Stuck in the middle is Seth, an accomplished hunter (of course) and a college baseball player. He’s home at the moment and together with his lifelong baseball and Nacho-Libre-quoting buddy Vance worked their tails off to make my turkey hunt the best possible experience.
We’re hunting male birds, Gobblers or Jakes. Want the attention of a male? Use a female. Nothing new here, right? That covers the “sex” part of the title (though an occasional gobble voiced by Vance or Seth floated across the air…). Except for one thing, I’ve never seen a turkey hen trained to lure in a male. Which then leads us to the lies and deceptions.
Vance and Seth are the liars in our clandestine turkey hunting operation. I watched them expertly call birds for a couple of hunters, myself included. The lies they told the turkeys in yelps, purrs, and clucks were convincing enough to call more birds than were shot.
The deception was through the decoys Vance and Seth expertly placed. That’s a tricky business. Decoys can not only provide a false sense of security to real turkeys, but they can also scare them away. I’m no expert here, so I’m particularly grateful to my guides.
With the components of our ambush in place, we’d hide in the brush and call the birds. On one occasion in mountainous terrain, the of us gave chase. Seth and Vance finally reeled in a couple of gobblers, and while I hate to admit it, I missed. In my defense, it was a thirty yard shot at a bird running between the trees. Excuses, I know, it’s on me.
Ultimately, I got my bird. With Vance calling from ten yards behind me, I sat against a row of thin trees leading slightly downhill, 20 or so yards at my 12 o’clock. Our first would-be victim came alone. When he popped into the clear I raised my shotgun and he spotted me. I got the one-eyed stare from the bird telegraphing me that I’d blown my cover. He left.
Vance laid out the lies again five birds cautiously broke into the clearing. They were heading towards our deception, albeit in no rush. Clumped together, I had no shot for seemingly forever. Finally, one headed away from me and up the opposite hill. I put my shotgun’s red dot on its neck and dropped it. We might call that “tactical turkey hunting.”
You’ll note there are no stories of sitting in a blind here. Vance and I did sit in one briefly on the evening of my arrival there, but they quickly learn your preferences and hunt accordingly. That’s part of what makes them “the best” in this category.
Hunting with the Eichlers offers another best, the “Best of both worlds.” Want to hunt the prairie? You can do that. Want to hunt the mountains? Yep, you can do that, too!
Now that there’s turkey meat in the freezer, let’s look at a few other of “the best” options I discovered.
The Best Turkey Hunting Camo
I have all kinds of camo in the closet. Camo for day, camo for night (yeah, sounds silly I know, but that’s for another day). I don’t have any real leafy stuff. While I don’t debate its effectiveness, I just prefer something cooler. Go ahead, hate me.
Spring in Colorado features chilly nights and warm days. Or, it might just be really cold, and it can snow. Time for me to look into some new camo options. True Timber was a brand I’d been impressed with from afar but had no personal experience with. They agreed to supply warm and cool options.
For cool, I wore the Viper Western pattern, most notably the warm and comfy soft shell pants. For warm I wore Pulse Strata pattern. I wished for some more layers during the cold mornings, but it all worked out. Whatever your design preferences in camo, quality is quality so let’s address that. The True Timber fabrics are strong and durable where they need to be, and soft and stretchy where they need to be.
The cut of the pants is unquestionably the best I’ve ever worn. I don’t know who decided that pants should hit my belly button, but it seems many camo makers bought that line. Well, that or the one that says the bottom of the crotch should hang halfway to your knees. At 5’8”, I’m not stubby.
I’m not fat. I’m not skinny. I’m just ordinary. It shouldn’t be so hard to find camo pants that fit. So when it comes to the best turkey hunting camo, pick your pattern but I’m more than happy to suggest True Timber. In fact, I plan on acquiring a bit more of it.
The Best Turkey Hunting Ammo
The best turkey hunting ammo I’ve used is without question the 12 gauge three-inch Remington Nitro Turkey. How do I quantify that? Well, it’s the only turkey ammo I’ve launched at a downrange bird. Earlier here I mentioned that my bird dropped. He found the ammo completely convincing. He was dead right there, expiring faster than some other turkeys I’ve observed on that less exciting series I mentioned earlier. From varying distances on this hunt, I watched other birds succumb to the Nitro Turkey prowess. I’ve also toured the ammo plant where Remington makes this stuff and its impressive (our ammo plant video has most of a million views). So that’s how I reached my conclusion. You can add yours to the comments.
The Best Turkey Hunting Shotgun
No, the Remington V3 isn’t the only shotgun I’ve taken turkey hunting. But I’ve run various V3 versions in some surprising places. For example, I’ve shot Crazy Quail clays with the V3 Tac-13 (not-a-shotgun, cough). I’ve hunted duck, pheasant, and chuckers with the V3 Waterfowl Pro.
Pro Staffer Casey Jones did a video and review of the Remington V3 Turkey Pro that you might want to check out. The oversized controls are winners. And I know personally the V3 reliability with whatever odd mix of ammo I feed it.
Whatever the configuration, I’ve been more than happy with these. The V3 might be the shotgun analog of the AR in the rifle world. Perhaps we’ll chase that idea later. So between me and my turkey meat in the freezer, we’re fairly persuaded that the best turkey hunting shotgun today must the Remington V3 Turkey Pro. Apologies to my old model 1100.
The Complete Turkey Ambush
Sex, lies, and deception, combined with the best of the rest made for an epic Colorado turkey hunt. I didn’t always see turkey hunting in this light, and surely someone will take issue with my approach. Who cares? I’m ready to head back out next year. Are you?