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A turkey in spring, turkey hunting on a budget concept.
Field Guide -Turkey

A Guide to Turkey Hunting on a Budget

As March breathes a little warmth onto the earth, the fields and woods come alive with the sounds of its inhabitants. There’s one sound that has turkey hunters anxiously waiting: the gobble.

However, there are several factors to consider when purchasing and gathering your gear for turkey hunting

Whether you primarily bow hunt or prefer shooting turkeys with a shotgun, most of your gear will be the same – but you don't need to spend a lot to have the gear you need for a successful hunt. Read on for our best recommendations for gathering the right gear with a budget in mind.

Get a Good Turkey Vest

A turkey vest helps hunters comfortably, securely, and accessibly carry essential gear needed for a successful turkey hunt. 

Turkey vests have developed over the years from being a simple layered vest with a few pockets to having a variety of useful features that keep everything you need within easy reach to minimize movement. When considering the right vest for your hunt (and your budget), an ultra-lightweight turkey vest is crucial. 

At 1.5 pounds, the RNG-200 from Knight and Hale is affordable and one of the lightest vests on the market. The RNG-200 is made of a tough fabric reinforced in the right spots, including ten adjustment points for a perfect fit. 

While lightweight, this vest still has all the pockets you realistically need for your hunt, a decoy sling, and a six-layer cushion – because sitting on the ground when the ground is rough or wet isn't anyone's idea of fun on a hunt.

A hunter uses a bow for turkey hunting.

Choose Your Turkey Shotgun or Bow

In most states, your choices for the method of take for turkeys are shotgun, muzzleloader, or bow. 

A few decades ago, turkey hunters used the same shotgun to drop a tom that they used to hunt ducks, doves, and upland game. Now, manufacturers design specialized turkey guns with camo dips, shorter barrels, specialized chokes, and upgraded sights and optics. 

For your budget-conscious gear prep, consider these three weapon options: 

  • Stevens 301 .410 Turkey Single Shot Shotgun: If you're one of the many who reach for a .410 to shoot a gobbler, this shotgun is an effective, simple, and inexpensive gun for hunting. This break-action single-shot comes prepared for the woods with a camo synthetic stock and sling swivels. 
  • Browning Cynergy: If you're ready to spend a little more on a higher-end option, the Cynergy guns contain a short Picatinny rail for a red dot sight optic. Package options include five Invector-Plus choke tubes for different ranges when hunting. The unique over-and-under design allows the hunter to switch chokes with the flip of a switch. 
  • Bowhunting: Hunters aren't limited to firearms when hunting turkeys. Compound bow hunting spring turkeys is an increasingly popular way to harvest birds and can be a more affordable way to hunt. 

Ultimately, choosing the right weapon for turkey hunting on a budget comes down to your preferences and how much you want to spend. Don't be afraid to try different options until you settle on the weapon that helps you bring home a turkey!

Hunters using a turkey call, turkey hunting concept.

Get Equipped With Turkey Calls

Prices range widely for turkey calls. You'll find beautiful custom slate and box calls handcrafted by true artists, but lower-priced alternatives can serve you just as well. 

You can also try building your own calls with kits and materials from retailers, assembling household items, and watching YouTube video tutorials. Internet research can lead you to everything you need to build your own pot-style or custom box calls. 

However, a custom call isn't important when calling in a longbeard. Box stores (like Walmart) and online retailers are likely to hold popular calls like the Ol Yeller and Scarlet Fever pot-n-peg calls from Knight and Hale, among others, or the Closer box call and time-proven diaphragm calls from H.S. Strut.  

Calls to Consider for Your Turkey Hunt

What are the different turkey calls you to consider when gathering your gear? Here are a few of the most common. 

  • Box Call: Mostly made of wood, a box call is used by scraping a paddle bottom along the side panel's lip. With a hollow chamber, the call provides a distinct note that appeals to the birds. 
  • Slate Call: The slate call features a striking surface constructed of slate, glass, or aluminum inside a hollow pot with holes drilled underneath. You'll grip the wood, carbon, plastic, glass, or even turkey wing bone striker like a pencil and move it along the striking surface. 
  • Diaphragm Call: A diaphragm or mouth call is an inexpensive choice that creates authentic sounds. It also keeps your hands ready to take aim with your firearm. A diaphragm call boasts a U-shaped frame with latex rubber stretched across. 
  • Locator Call: If you enter a new area and do not see any signs of activity, you could use a locator call. Also known as shock gobbling, a locator call makes a very loud sound to place a gobbler. These should be used sparingly but can help get the birds ready to be called in. 

A tom can be very vocal when searching for mates early in the season. When selecting a turkey call for your next hunt, consider how easy it is to use and how comfortable it is to carry. 

Then, practice your calls regularly. YouTube has many instructional videos to help you master basic clucks and purrs of hens. However, use them sparingly and bring that tom in close.

A hunter sets turkey decoys, turkey hunting concept.

Find the Right Decoys

You don't need a sophisticated turkey decoy for a successful hunt. 

A simple collapsible decoy like silhouette dekes or the highly-rated Avian-X LCD Lifelike Jake Turkey Decoy can be quite effective and are easy to hide in your vest. They'll capture a tom's attention and keep him distracted, but don't forget to pack the stakes to secure your decoys! 

Once you call a tom, visual cues (like a decoy) get the bird interested. A mature tom is prowling the property and wants female company but also wants to avoid competition. 

Hen decoys like Dave Smith Decoys' Jake can be useful to provoke big toms. The H.S. Strut-Lite series is also a great bang for your buck. It boasts a foldable, hollow body, so you can easily pack it in and out of the field. 

Start with just one, or buy a pair or flock to enhance your hunt.

Conceal Yourself With Hunting Blinds

While there are several different methods of concealment, many hunters prefer a ground blind for turkey hunts. Here are two contenders to consider. 

1. The Primos SurroundView Stakeout Blind

With one-way-see-through fabric, the 2-panel blind is a favorite amongst hunters around the globe. A foolproof, exclusive hub design aids in ease of setup. 

This blind is perfect for bow hunters as it hides movement from the turkey's eyes while you draw your bow. Also, at 4.5 pounds, this blind is extremely portable and perfect for hauling through the woods.  

2. The Summit Viper Ground Blind

On those days when the best plan is to sit and wait, the Summit has plenty of critical features. This blind as a silent, swing-open panel door and TruView fabric windows to help you see out (without turkeys seeing in).


Hunters use the HuntWise app for turkey hunting.

Don't Forget to Download the HuntWise App

From planning your turkey hunts to e-scouting, HuntWise is the #1 app for turkey hunters. 

Here are the seven best ways the HuntWise app can help you find more birds this year. 

  1. Find Public and Private Land: Gain an extra edge in finding less-pressured birds by using the Public Lands Layer to help navigate boundaries. Also, find private land and landowner information by tapping a parcel. Always be sure to gain permission before hunting on private property. 
  2. Use Pins: Whether in the field noting strut zones, blind locations, or roost trees, using pins to mark locations boosts your potential for success when opening day finally arrives. 
  3. E-Scout Using the Web Map Before Heading Out: HuntWise can help you optimize your time and be more efficient when in the field. Whether you are a public land hunter looking for access or seeking landowner permission on private property, HuntWise can help you find your next hunting location. 
  4. Aerial Imagery Uncovers the Perfect Turkey Habitat: The app's aerial imagery feature delivers an accurate bird's-eye view of opening points, fields, and your preferred areas to hunt. 
  5. Share Pins and Transfer Information Between Friends and Family: Send meet-up locations or share pins of ground blinds, roost trees, bird sightings, and more. This feature helps you stay connected with your hunting partners to coordinate a successful hunt. 
  6. Save Maps Offline: Not having cellular service is no longer a problem! Save your maps before heading into the field and access them with or without cell service. 
  7. Track Wind and Weather: Use HuntCast™ to uncover the best hunting time for turkey with wind direction insights, hourly weather forecasts, sunrise and sunset times, and more. 

The HuntWise app is free to try! Download the app to experience these features before you gather your gear and enter the field for your hunt. 

Have a Successful Turkey Hunt (No Matter Your Budget)

Hunters don't have to overspend on gear or tools to harvest a turkey this season. Use these gear insights to collect the gear you need in a way that fits your budget, and then enjoy a successful hunting season! 


Content updated January 24, 2024

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