By Nancy Jo Adams

With the 2016 spring turkey season fast approaching, turkey hunters are taking stock of the items in their turkey hunting arsenal. Many of us started researching and stocking up at the first of the year. At the recent 40th Annual NWTF Convention and Sports Show, I began adding gear to my list of the hottest turkey hunting items for the 2016 spring turkey season, not including the variety of types and styles of turkey calls. In sharing some of these products, I know that a few items will not be of interest to some hunters, but I am sure other items will.

T.O.M. Targets

Any responsible turkey hunter realizes that knowing the performance and pattern of their shotgun’s ammo and choke is very important. T.O.M. Targets is a revolutionary practice target for perfecting the hunter’s shot on wild turkey. Not only does the T.O.M. Target allow you a true account of your shotgun’s ammo and choke combinations performance, it allows the shooter to practice their shooting in a lifelike situation on a life size target at varying yardages. The lifelike target allows the shooter to no longer mentally rely on centering on a square target but actually focusing on the correct spot to shoot on the target making the perfect, ethical shot. In turn, the removable target head not only gives a clear indication of how many pellets are in the kill zone, but it also allows visualization of the knockdown power that shot has downrange. The system is a fluted cardboard, high-resolution printed body qith five heads and two metal rods for setting the target up. I found this system to be much more realistic and reliable than a traditional square target at a set yardage.

God’A Grip

With the importance of being fully camouflaged, some hunters find that their thinner, polyester or mesh turkey hunting gloves are slick on their shotgun grip. Many hunters also find themselves in situations where they have to hold the shotgun receiver for an extended period as a tom works his way into their set up. God’A Grip self-customizing shotgun finger grips are made with Sorbothane’s proprietary material that enhances comfort and consistency with a shock-absorbing feel. The easy to apply grip can be self-customized to your natural grip and applied to your gun quickly. God’A Grip also offers cheek pads for a custom fit for proper view down your barrel and for reducing recoil of those 3.5” hard-hitting, magnum loads that many turkey hunters favor. The grips are available in four different sizes and styles and the cheek pads are available in six different models for perfect customization of your firearm.

The Turkey Fan

The Turkey Fan takes turkey hunting to a whole new level. While many are perplexed and do not recommend a decoy system where a hunter is directly behind the decoy for the sake of safety, there are many turkey hunters who hunt private land or outfitter hunts where these type targets or blinds are perfectly safe. The Turkey Fan is a lightweight, portable, large umbrella style decoy designed for use in front of the hunter and weapon similar to a blind. The hunter is fully mobile since the decoy is not staked down and the convenient handle is designed for easy use. The full strut turkey design on the front of the decoy is life-like and true to color enticing toms to come in to the moving decoy. An optional camera bracket can be purchased to allow the hunter to self-film their hunts.

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Avian-X

The Avian-X LCD Laydown Hen Turkey Decoy enhances mating attraction of toms with a 15% smaller size that gives the life-like hen a less dominate appearance. The body, head and wing position of the laydown hen simulates a true receptive, breeding position enticing the mating ritual. For mid-morning hunts, use the hen in a dusting position to put hens at ease and to entice toms to come in strutting. This lightweight, true-to-life decoy is the newest addition to the Avian-X LCD turkey decoy line, and as with all of the Avian-X decoys, the quality holds true to the brand.

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Flambeau

The Flambeau MAD Smoky Baby Upright Hen Decoy is a product that I have encountered in the past but never gave much thought to, and now it is getting rave reviews in the turkey hunting world. It has been proven that smoky phase hens get more attention than standard colored hens in the flock. Hunters in areas where there are color-phased hens usually notice that the smoky phase hens get bred first and are the first to set on their nests. Hens on the other hand seem to attempt to chase them from the flocks allowing for toms to target those smoky hens. The Flambeau MAD Smoky Baby is designed with a patented U-Vision paint process for a unique realism and increased visibility taking appeal and attraction to a whole new level.

Deception Outdoors

A full-strutter tom is very effective early season when toms are in a heightened breeding cycle, and in some areas, any quality decoy can fool a young, lovesick tom. Fooling an old trophy tom or decoy weary tom may take a quality, lifelike decoy. Deception Outdoors Decoys is among the most realistic strutting tom decoys on the market. Each decoy is handmade and custom painted by the co-owners at their shop in central Kansas. The colors are realistic with the right amount of copper, gold, and rust colored feathers. The tail on the full-strutter is designed so that the tail is interchangeable with your own real turkey tails so you can use a tail from the correct species you are hunting, be it Eastern, Osceola, Merriam’s or Rio turkey. Each decoy comes with a storage/carry bag and the quality of these decoys will allow them to last many turkey seasons with much success.

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HS Strut

Tired of decoys that fall over, lean or are almost impossible to stake down in the terrain that you are hunting? HS Strut All-Terrain Decoy Stand solves this problem and adds the benefit of allowing the decoy to move on the stake by wind currents. The All-Terrain Decoy Stand fits most decoys and folds down for easy packing and transporting. The 4-piece system is designed with a bungee cord system inside the limbs that allows for quick setup and break down. The unique tip allows the decoy to swivel by wind generation for lifelike movement. Replace your decoy stakes with the HS Strut All-Terrain Decoy Stand, and you can place decoys in the field and move your decoy set quickly with less movement.

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Motion Madness

Want to bring those turkey decoys alive and drive those toms mad? Motion Madness Decoy System has just the system to do that. The battery operated motion-generating system is controlled by a wireless remote. There is a Peck and Sweep Feeder Hen system and a Strut Your Stuff Gobbler/Jake system that is sure to get any toms attention and bring them in on a string. Assisted generated motion decoys are illegal in some states, and a hunter will need to check the regulations of the state they plan to use the Motion Madness Decoy System.

Barronett Blinds

The newest addition to the Barronett Blinds line is the Pentagon Blind. The first thing I noticed about this blind was the 5-sided panoramic view from the interior of the blind. The windows are at varying heights allowing for comfortable stool or blind chair shooting. The 5-sided hub style blind allows 70% more interior room than standard 4-hub blinds, which is great for multiple people/chairs in the blind, camera tripods or youth hunts. The water resistant roof and walls in BloodTrail Backwoods camouflage, durable framework with stiffer poles and stronger hubs, noise-free, zipperless windows, and back wall “peek” windows make this the ideal spot for calling in a trophy tom and filming all the action without worrying about having room for the camera tripod. The Pentagon Blind comes with a convenient carrying case and weighs a mere 20 pounds.

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Redneck Blinds

The Redneck Blinds Hunting Chair is the ideal chair for blind hunting with its unique 180-degree swivel stool that moves independent of the backrest. This offers full movement without bumping the blind walls or others in the blind. The washable, high-density foam seat has ample room for any size hunter up to 350 pounds and is comfortable enough for all day hunting. The black powder coated steel frame chair is light, quiet, strong, fully adjustable and sets up easily allowing for the perfect seating even on uneven ground with its three independent height adjustable legs and self-leveling feet. The chair can be adjusted from 18 to 20 inches at the seat height. The Redneck Blinds Hunting Chair collapses flat, weighs 16 pounds and has a convenient heavy-duty nylon carry strap making it the perfect blind companion.

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Lakewood

For those hunters that will be taking their crossbows to the turkey woods this season, you will be excited about the Lakewood Drop-in Crossbow Case. A crossbow case is the most cumbersome case there is for weapons and for good reason…the odd shape of crossbows. Some crossbow cases are unusually shaped and require a lot of room to layout the case for opening. Other crossbow cases are huge and break down into two pieces. The Drop-in Crossbow Case is a convenient, top-loading, stand-up design that fits well in vehicles or on ATVs. The soft-sided hard case offers maximum protection with a foam interior and Velcro straps that hold the crossbow securely in its place. There is a quiver compartment that can hold up to 18 bolts along with other gear. The case is airline approved with lockable zipper tabs, and it incorporates two built-in wheels for easy glide across flat surfaces with the nylon grip handle. It also includes a detachable shoulder strap for carrying. The Lakewood Drop-in Crossbow Case only weighs 18.5 pounds, is made in the USA and has a lifetime guarantee.

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Carlson’s Chokes

For turkey hunters who really like the Shot-Lok Technology and tight pattern of the Winchester Long Beard XR turkey load for longer downrange reach, Carlson’s Choke Tubes has the perfect choke tube for your turkey hunting shotgun. The combination allows for perfectly round shot to dispel from the barrel for tight, long-range patterns, with 10% superior penetration at distances greater than 50 yards than standard lead shot. All Carlson’s Choke Tubes are made of the finest steel products backed by a Lifetime Warranty and are made in the U.S.A.

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Wildside Armory

Wildside Armory Chokes are designed with technology that maximizes a shotguns potentially wasted kinetic energy by converting it for a tighter shot pattern and increased target impact. The chokes are made of 17-4 H 1150 double heat treated stainless steel that are specially ported, and it is hydro-dipped or Cerakoted depending on choke style. The tightly constricted chokes designed with this choke technology allow for longer shots, and they keep a tighter pattern with less stray pellets to improving the hunter’s odds at longer shots.

SRB Field Rests

Many turkey hunters prefer to use a gun rest when turkey hunting so that they have their hands free for working calls and should a bird come in range. A rest also requires less movement to get your shotgun barrel up and on that bird. SRB Field Rests has multiple options for the turkey hunter, from a spike bottom mono-pod, a hands free double-rest to a turkey hunting combination field rest that offers a place to hold several calls and strikers, and it can accommodate a crossbow. The field rests are sturdy, easy to break down for transportation in a turkey vest and are height adjustable for any situation. SRB Field Rests offers a solution for every shotgun or crossbow hunting scenario and are proudly made in the USA.

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HECS

Just about every hunter has heard or read about HECS Stealthscreen. This product has continued to grow in popularity and usually a hunter is sold on the technology the first time they wear the gear in the field and encounter wild game. HECS technology uses the Faraday cage in its materials which blocks the electromagnetic signals that a human body emits allowing for the hunter to go undetected by wild game. This system works on big game, migratory birds, waterfowl, and turkey giving the hunter an advantage in the field. The ultra-lightweight, breathable HECS Stealthscreen system is available in size small to 5X-large and includes pants, long sleeve shirt and head cover; a ball cap and gloves are also available. The products are machine washable and can be tumbled dry. The system can be worn as an outer layer in warmer climates or as a base or mid layer in colder weather.

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Tenzing

Every turkey hunter requires a way to store their gear and calls in an easily accessible manner, but it is also important that the storage is mobile and keeps the gear secure and rattle free when trekking through the woods in search of birds or when running and gunning. The Tenzing TZ TP14 offers over two dozen specialized and strategically placed pockets for quiet and easy access to gear. The TZ TP14 also incorporates a unique, patented two spring-loaded leg system and detachable padded seat that converts the pack into a chair. The pack is built with a structured aluminum frame, and it sits comfortably on the hunter’s back with a convenient, expandable pouch for carrying a turkey. The pack comes with a hunter orange safety pullover and is water bladder compatible.

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With all the new product innovation for turkey hunting, there exists an unquestionable advantage for new and experienced turkey hunters. Regardless if you are hunting decoy shy birds or difficult terrain where extended range shots are all that you have, these new products are certain to help every turkey hunter have a more successful season.

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Endorsement Disclosure: Per the guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission, the products reviewed or mentioned within this writing is an endorsement and the writer may or may not have been compensated by “in-kind” payment to review the product.