Parkers McDonald's Turkey Hunting Gear Setup
By: Parker McDonald
Like many things in the hunting world, it can be an intimidating feat to try to learn all of the things you need to start turkey hunting. There’s so many options out there for turkey vests, calls, shotguns, and turkey loads for your gun. Simply put, you don’t need all of that to kill a gobbler during spring turkey season. Every time I pull out of my house I feel like I’m forgetting something, but as long as I have my gun and one turkey call I know that I have all I need to go out that day.
You’re going to read about everything I’m currently taking into the woods with me on nearly every spring turkey hunt. Some of it is important and some of it isn’t, but it still stays in my vest.
Turkey Vest - Grounded Grand Impact Vest
This has been an absolute Godsend for me. I have gone through the ringer trying to find a vest that was minimalistic, yet still having all of the necessary compartments for all of my gear. When Grounded Brand released their Impact Turkey Vest in 2021, I knew I had to have one. Drew Able, the owner, has a very similar approach to turkey hunting as I do and I knew he wouldn’t put something on the market if it were not nearly perfect. Every part of the vest was designed with intentionality, and as a hardcore turkey hunter I greatly appreciated that. Let’s talk about some of the features I’ve really liked.
Minimal yet functional.
As I mentioned, I wanted something that was minimalistic, but still had space to put my gear. Especially as a self filmer, I needed the space for all of my camera equipment. Every other vest I found was just too bulky. April & May in the south gets HOT and covering 10 miles a day with a bulky vest just wasn’t for me. The Impact vest really fixed that issue for me with their sleek design, lightweight material, and intentional pockets.
I’ve owned about 5 other turkey vests from various big name brands. One issue that I continually had was the shoulder straps sliding back when I had anything in the main back pocket. The Impact vest was designed with hardly noticeable rubber-like grips to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Seat Cushion & Magnet
For me, this was a deal breaker. In my turkey hunting career I’ve found that I’ve always had to sacrifice comfort for minimalism with a turkey vest. Not anymore! Grounded’s design included a comfy & BUCKLE FREE seat cushion. It’s super annoying to have to continually clip your cushion to the buckles every time you get up from your setup, and the super strong magnet ensures you don’t have to do that. I’ve seen other companies try the magnet idea, but they are always a pain because they’re just not strong enough to hold the cushion up.
Remington 870 Super Mag Express 12 Gauge
I have used this gun for 3 years now and I have no intention of changing. It’s a short barreled shotgun with the thumbhole stock and fiber optic sights. From a maneuverability standpoint, it’s size makes it easy to carry and swing on a bird if needed. The Remington 870 is just a staple in the turkey hunting world, and for good reason. It shoots 3 ½ inch shells, but I typically stick to a 3 inch TSS #9 shot from Federal Premium.
Federal Premium TSS #9
As TSS (Tungsten Super Shot) has gained popularity, we’ve seen huge benefits for turkey hunters everywhere in the states that allow it. While some view it as a “long range load”, it’s actually not advertised as that. I love the #9 shot because, simply put, you get more pellets in a nice tight pattern than you would with conventional lead shot. While you can get pretty good range from them, I try to stay around the 40 to 45 yard max range.
If you hunt anywhere in the south for turkeys you know that while you’re hunting turkeys, the mosquitoes are hunting you. There’s not much worse than being set up on a gobbling turkey and trying to be still while a swarm of mosquitoes are making a fresh meal out of your face. If you’re not carrying a thermocell, do yourself a favor and get one.
As a content creator in the outdoor space, every time I step in the woods I’ll have a camera. It’s been quite a feat trying to find a self filming camera setup for turkey hunting that isn’t big and bulky. Aside from the size, it’s also important to have a system that is easy to set up and tear down while run n gun hunting. My system isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.
This is my “main camera” for turkey hunts. At first glance, it looks like something you could buy from the tech section in Walmart. Don’t be fooled by it’s looks though, because this is a very capable little mirrorless camera for just about anything you’d ever need. It’s lightweight and very small, but it has much of the same functionality of it’s bigger brothers from the Sony a6000 series. The only real difference is that you don’t have the ability to change lenses.
I recently purchased a small 20 inch tripod from amazon as a test in solving the problem of bulky tripods for turkey hunting. Realistically most of your filming will be from a seated position against a tree, so you don’t need a tripod that will stand 4 feet tall. This little tabletop tripod has been perfect for me, and the best part is that it fits perfectly in a pocket on my vest for easy access.
Peak Design Camera Mount
Speaking of easy access, I added a small camera mount for the ZV1 directly to my shoulder strap. This allows me to have immediate access to my main camera for quick filming, but also gives me a hands-free method while moving around.
Insta360 One R with selfie stick and ground stake
If I could suggest one camera that can do it all, it would be the Insta360. While I mostly use it as a second angle camera, there are many times when I use it to capture the kill shot. Self filming a turkey hunt is difficult due to a turkey’s extremely good eyesight. When he’s in range, moving a camera is sometimes impossible. With the Insta360, you get a 360 degree view from a stationary position. As long as you’ve hit “record”, you’ll be able to capture anything that happens. It’s not nearly as clean as a bigger camera with zoom, but it’s better than having nothing at all.
I carry several calls for each hunt, but rarely do I use every single one. However, here is a short list of what I carry in my vest.
A call wallet with about 7 diaphragm calls
Carrying a bunch of diaphragm calls is very easy to do just because they don’t take up any space or add much weight. Every turkey likes something different, so I make sure to have several different cuts just in case. I’ll carry a batwing, ghost cut, combo cut, and V cut all custom made by Zach Lucas.
Pot calls are my “go-to” for locator calls and blind calling. I carry a glass call from Holland Custom Calls and another custom built slate from a local call maker. Each have their place in my vest for different applications.
Rarely do I use it, but rarely do I not have it in my vest pocket. A box call gets a bad reputation, especially on public land. Go out to your local wma on a Saturday and you’ll likely hear 15 fellas on 15 ridges just wearing out their box calls trying to get a bird to gobble. Spoiler alert… they don’t normally gobble back. However, there’s not a greater tool for locating a lonely midday bird on a windy afternoon. They’re loud and will absolutely cut through the wind, and that’s exactly why I have my Hunter’s Addiction box call with me on every hunt.
It’s easy to be intimidated by all of the information around turkey hunting gear. At the end of the day, you don’t need it all. You don’t need much! Get yourself some good camo, a straight shooting gun, and a call you like and hit the woods this spring!