The past year saw many changes occur in the hunting industry, with companies challenged to find raw materials, struggling to keep up to demand, and ownership changes. Still, a few companies came out with some great new turkey gear that hunters may want to consider.
Primos added to its custom-grade calls with a few new calls that are upgrades to previous models. The Freak Frictionite pot call is designed to strap on your leg or gun to allow one-hand operation. The Heart Breaker is a custom call with an engraved purple heartwood lid with a two-sided mahogany box. The L’il Heartbreaker is a scaled-down version that is one-sided.
The Jackpot slate pot call is a custom-grade wooden call with Pennsylvania slate, which is an easy-to-use surface that produces realistic sounds.
The Primos Double Bull 3-panel Stakeout blind with Surroundview is an expansion of the portable line of screens perfect for run-and-gun hunters, or those looking for some concealment without setting up a full- sized blind.
The first blind in this line was two panels and perfect for one hunter. The larger three-panel model can accommodate more than one hunter. For those who haven’t used Surroundview, the beauty of it is that the hunter can see through the one-way material, but the turkey can’t see any movement.
The Will Primos turkey vest was designed by company founder Will Primos himself. It features a removable three-inch-thick foam seat. The shoulder straps are textured to prevent gun slip and are adjustable. There are two outer striker pockets with magnetic closures to allow quiet access. The D-ring lanyards are a unique feature that allows tying on accessories such as turkey wings or locator calls.
Primos is one of only a few companies introducing new decoys this year. The L’il Gobstopper Hen and Jake are smaller to make them less intimidating to cautious turkeys. Smaller size also makes it easier to transport the decoys.
Quaker Boy is upping the box call game with its ToneBlast technology. With a ToneBlast port strategically placed in the lid, the concept is that sound will leave the box and not be muffled inside the box. This increases clarity, definition, and volume. The Tear Jerker is an addition to the line, with a purple heart lid and mahogany bottom. The new Reign box call is small in size, but big in sound. It produces a high-pitched big sound. The call has a maple lid and cherry body. Both calls have rubber keepers – a feature I like and I think is needed on every box call.
Bass Pro/Cabela’s introduced a number of new products this year.
- The Cabela’s EZE Portable Ground Line is along the same line as the Primos Stakeout It has many of the advantages of the Primos blind, providing a quick- set portable blind.
- To go with this blind or to use on its own are two new loungers introduced by Cabela’s.
On the Bass Pro side, the new Redhead Ozark Bottoms series of calls provides several high- quality options, including a maple aluminum, a maple crystal, and a series of mouth calls. A Heritage Series Custom call was also added to the line-up in both slate and glass materials.
Bass Pro’s Higdon decoys added a pair of realistic hard body decoys at a reasonable price. The Girls is a pair of hen decoys that are reasonably priced and realistically looking.
GSM, which owns several turkey hunting brands (such as Avian-X, Flextone, Zink calls and more), did not release any new products this year.
Consider a Comfort Upgrade
In a year where new products are more limited, this could be a good year to upgrade to a vest that provides better back support.
A turkey’s skittish nature is how they survive. Even the smallest movement can cause a bird that is coming into your set up to turn tail and head the other way. Having a vest that provides comfort is key to staying still.
Dr. Kristina Peterson of Thunder Bay, past president of the of the Ontario Chiropractic Association and a hunter, recommends that vests or seats should have padding on the bottom and back to make sitting on the cold, uneven ground more comfortable and easier on your back.
Part of the challenge is the human body isn’t designed to sit still. “When you are in one position for many hours waiting for the right gobbler to arrive, you are putting a huge amount of strain on your muscles and joints,” Dr. Peterson says. “Stretching before you start and taking a break to do a few stretches as often as possible while hunting will save you a lot of pain and discomfort in the long run.”
While she understands how too much movement can spook a turkey, Dr. Peterson notes that if proper stretches aren’t possible, changing positions or moving slightly whenever possible can be beneficial.
Look at Backrests
One option hunters may want to examine is using vests that come with a built-in backrest, which some companies call a lounger. The first lounger I became aware of is Bass Pro’s Bucklick Creek Turkey Lounger. This vest uses metal beams on both sides to provide back support. Not only does it provide back support, but it helps distribute the pressure when sitting.
Before going any further, it’s important to realize how unique the Bucklick Creek vest is. The back is connected to the padded seat along a seam and has adjustable straps that connect the sides of the back on a 45-degree angle. This allows the hunter to have back support even when there isn’t any. It will literally work in the middle of a field and provide back support while keeping the hunter well positioned to shoot. It’s possible to literally use it as a lounger when it’s set up right.
Primos entered this field with its Rocker Strap Vest introduced a few years ago. It works on a similar principle, with metals beams on each side of the vest to provide back support. It has mesh-covered foam back pads for comfort.
The Tenzig TR18 takes a different approach to a turkey lounger. It uses an internal aluminum frame for rigidity and spring-loaded legs to convert the vest into a chair. It has air mesh back panels and air channels to keep the hunter cool. Tenzig uses its expertise in building hunting backpacks to construct shoulder straps with extra padding and contoured waist straps to help distribute the load when carrying out a turkey. A two-inch thick foam pad attached by straps provides comfortable seating. Quick-release straps allow the hunter to release the legs and be set up in no time. It also has handwarmer pockets.
Cabela’s/Bass Pro’s newest vest along this line is the Tactical Tat’r, a vest similar to the TR 18 that is available both with and without support legs. Alps also manufactures its Grand Slam vest, which also has support legs. Alps also has some innovative turkey seats that are worth checking out.
One other important piece of advice when looking at any new turkey gear, when that calls for a vest for added comfort, be sure to try it out before you take it to the field.