Turkey Hunting: Hanging It Up

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There may be no worse a feeling for an addicted turkey hunter than when he puts away his gear until next year.  Tears may fall and the “what ifs” begin to roll through his or her mind.  As sad a moment as it may be, it is one that if done correctly, can save you time and trouble when it is time to bring out the gear the following spring.  Here are some tips on how the Wild Turkey Report crew likes to “de-activate”!

Taking Inventory

We all start the spring turkey season with our turkey vests weighing 200 pounds and stuffed with everything a turkey hunter could possibly need-for ten seasons.  By the end of the year, briar thickets have taken four pairs of gloves out of our vests, a creek claimed two slate calls, and you are not really sure where Uncle Fred’s box call went to.  Losing gear is a part of the game, no matter how organized you may be.  While it is still on your mind, go ahead and take an inventory count of everything in your turkey vest.   We like to have our pre-season gear checklist for reference, and will make a note of everything we are missing so we know to replenish that category before next season.   You may want to try to replace some of the missing items now, as many sporting goods stores have closeout sales where you can get sweet deals on essential turkey hunting gear.

Watching Your Mouth (Calls)

The mouth call is one tool that few passionate turkey hunters leave home without.  And with the price (and quality) of some of the mouth calls these days, we want to make sure that we can use our ace in the hole next season.   What we recommend is that you rinse your mouth calls off in a mouth wash, then rinse off with water.  Cut toothpicks in half and place in between the reeds.  Once you have done that, leave them on a table in a cool, shaded room to dry out.  The next day, place in a Ziploc bag and keep them in the refrigerator until next year.  When you bring your mouth calls out of their hibernation, you will be able to work them into shape within a day.

Getting Rid of the Shotgun Gunk

While the majority of hunters employ a one-gun-fits-all approach, some do have a specialized turkey gun that they will likely not shoot until the step on the target range next February.  Regardless, it is important to make sure our shotgun is clean before we put it away. 
Over the course of a turkey season, our gun gets used and abused, and it picks up dirt and dust every step of the way.   We should clean the gun throughout the season to avoid a misfire or a jammed shell, but few of us are that meticulous.  Nevertheless, when the season closes, we need to break out the RemOil and an old sock and toothbrush and clean the action of the shotgun to a shine.  The last thing you want is a dirty firearm sitting in the safe for ten months; a rusty shotgun is hard to repair!
Clean Camo is Happy Camo

If reincarnation were true, “coming back” as a turkey hunters’ camo clothes would have to be sheer punishment.  The abuse that our hunting clothes undergo through the course of a season would be excruciating.   We start the season with beautiful, spotless clothes and end with tattered rags stained with mud, blood, and sweat.   Because our camo can be good luck, it is important for us to wash those clothes before hanging them up for the year.
Be sure to wash your camo on a gentle cycle with cold water.  Turn your clothes inside and out, and wash them with a camo-friendly detergent (the scent free wash you use for your deer hunting clothes will work fine).  After drying the clothes, hang them in a cool, dark closet.
Wild Turkey Report Staff
Wild Turkey Report is the internet's new destination for information on the sport of turkey hunting. Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wildturkeyreport and on Twitter @wildturkeyreprt!
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April 26, 2012, 7:00 AM