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Texas Turkey Hunting

Hunting Gear Checklist - By James Elledge
March 1, 2024

Turkey hunting is for true fanatics. The subset of hunters that chases turkeys is a unique breed. These hunters obsess over wild turkeys year-round and constantly hone their gameplan for the next season. On opening day, these grown men act like their 6-year-old selves on Christmas morning. The gear, tactics, and hunting locations may vary each turkey season, but the unwavering passion for firing up a Tom turkey does not.

The month of March in Texas brings beautiful bluebonnet blooms in the Hill Country, South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, and college spring break. But a Texas turkey hunter could care less about any of those things. March means turkey season. In 2024, the season for Rios -- Rio Grande turkeys -- opens March 16th in the South Zone and March 30th in the North Zone. If you’re interested in getting in the woods to chase gobblers this spring, you better circle those dates on your calendar and get prepared. After visiting with our hunting guides on the Ranch and speaking with some turkey hunting fanatic friends of mine, I’ve put together the ultimate Texas Turkey Hunting Checklist.

‘On the Hunt’ Gear Checklist:

Every hunter knows the right gear can make or break your hunt. Great hunting gear not only makes your hunt more successful; it makes your hunt more enjoyable. Here are my recommendations for the right types of gear, along with recommendations for the best turkey hunting gear brands.


Mossy Oak

Mossy Oak is pretty much synonymous with turkey hunting in the South. Mossy Oak Bottomland, one of my favorite camo patterns of all time, was originally developed specifically for hunting wild turkeys. Grab your lightweight pants, shirt, neck gaiter, gloves and hat in matching Mossy Oak camo. Sit still next to a tree in full Mossy Oak camo and I guarantee you will fool a turkey. Mossy Oak Turkey Hunting – gear and turkey hunting tips.


Lacrosse Alphaburly Pro

Waterproof, non-insulated, and as the name implies: burly. These boots will keep your toes dry in the mud and the muck and the outsole gives the right amount of traction so you can move quickly without fear of busting your butt. At 4.8 pounds per pair, they’re not super heavy. The neoprene gusset at the top is a nice touch because it accommodates different calf sizes and makes the boot easier to slide on and off.


Approachable Price Point: Remington 870 Pump-Action
High End: Benelli Super Black Eagle 3

You can kill a turkey with pretty much any shotgun, but confidence is key for every hunter. The best piece of advice for the best turkey hunting gun for you is the one that you feel the most comfortable pointing at a target. I’ve used my 12-gauge Remington 870 for dove, ducks, cranes, and yes: turkeys. It was my first shotgun and I’ve always been comfortable with the way it points. On the higher price point side, you can’t go wrong with an SBE. They’re smooth, light, and easy to carry. These days, I shoot my Benelli SBE3 20 ga for pretty much everything.


Apex Ammunition

These guys are doing it right when it comes to a premium shotgun shell. Their Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) is downright deadly. Whether you shoot a 12 ga, a .410, or anything in between, you’ll find high quality shotshells at Apex. They are more expensive than what you would pick up at Bass Pro, but they’re worth it. Plus, you should only be shooting once at a turkey!


Carlson’s Choke Tubes

Ammo and choke combinations will pattern differently, so this is an important thing to test out on some paper before you get out in the field. Pattern your shotgun for the load and choke you plan on using. Carlson’s choke tubes are made in the U.S.A. from stainless steel. They’ve been collecting patterning test data for over 30 years, so they know how to make a proper product. Carlson’s also offers a lifetime warranty.


Primos Turkey Calls

Box call, slate call, or mouth call – which should you use? Well, that depends on your preferences and experience. As a general statement, most serious turkey hunters use mouth calls. Turkey calls can get complicated in a hurry, but you don’t have to make it complicated to call a turkey into shooting range. Test some out and see what you like. YouTube has a wealth of turkey calling videos. Learn about the different turkey sounds and what they mean, and you’ll be well on your way to a gobbler on the ground.



The Bull Lounger Turkey Vest from Nomad is a turkey hunter’s comfort companion. A gear vest is a must-have while on your feet chasing turkeys and a cushioned seat is arguably just as vital to success. This combo vest/seat has an aluminum frame, removable seat cushion and dual water bottle pockets. You’ll feel confident and comfortable with this piece of gear. But if you’re really trying to harvest a turkey, don’t fall asleep in the woods. Fair warning, as one product reviewer puts it, this vest is “nap tested.”



Once you harvest your turkey, you need to clean it and take the meat home to share with your family. ‘Merica. I like Benchmade knives for cleaning wild game because they’re easy to carry, super sharp, and they look good. Their ‘Custom Meatcrafter’ knife with a carbon fiber handle looks like an awesome tool, but I use one of their base models – the Griptilian. You can personalize Benchmade knives, so they make a great gift for the turkey hunter in your life – even if you like gifting yourself.

The gear, tactics, and hunting locations may vary each turkey season, but the unwavering passion for firing up a Tom turkey does not.

“Back at the camp, turkey hunters talk chokes and crack jokes like ranchers and cowpokes.”

Turkey Camp

Back at the camp, turkey hunters talk chokes and crack jokes like ranchers and cowpokes. Tall tales are never part of the discussion – no, not ever. Claims like, “I meant to shoot the bearded hen!” are met with skepticism and tears of laughter. The hunting camp is a special place, indeed. Sometimes all you need at camp is a deck of cards and good conversation. But for those looking for a few pieces of gear to liven up turkey camp a bit, read on.

‘At the Camp’ and Post-Hunt Gear Checklist


Turtlebox Waterproof Speaker

A bombproof speaker that sounds as good as it looks. Fully waterproof, you don’t have to worry if your buddy spills suds on it. It really is amazing how a speaker of this size cranks out so much sound. If you’re trying to amp it up in a big way, pair two of these speakers together for true left/right stereo. The folks behind the brand are outdoorsmen and quality human beings, which is one more reason to support their unique product.

Cornhole Set:

Tupelo Goods

Sure, you can make your own set of cornhole boards after a quick trip to Home Depot. But if you want the Rolls Royce of cornhole boards, check out this all-weather set from Tupelo. The low-profile frame, shock absorption system, and all-weather composite boards make this a lifetime set that will withstand the test of time. While it may sound like a load of marketing jargon, I can personally attest that this is the best set on the market. I was lucky enough to play on these boards at tarpon camp in Florida last summer and I’m truly impressed.

Waxed Canvas Hunting Gear Bag

King Ranch Saddle Shop

A sharp looking, functional gear bag is always welcomed in a hunter’s toolkit. The olive waxed canvas fabric is both unique and durable, and the full grain leather detailing adds a nice punch. Great for a daily driver in your truck, or something you load up with gear for the hunting trip weekend. 

Whiskey: Old Forester King Ranch Edition

Shameless plug, I know. But this juice is the real deal. Old Forester King Ranch Edition celebrates the union of two iconic American brands. Matured in heavily charred barrels and filtered through mesquite charcoal sourced from King Ranch, this whisky is 105 proof. I’m not the only one who thinks this brown water is smooth; the judges gave it a double gold medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. With a long and warming finish, it’s the perfect post-hunt sipper for turkey camp.

Thank-You Notes:

Andrew Lee Designs Note Pad -
Strutting Tom Turkey

In the South, being polite will get you places. Better put: if you’re not polite, you won’t go anywhere. If you were the guest of a friend’s hunting camp or ranch, make sure you write a thank you note. Handwritten notes provide a way to connect with those we care about on a deeper level. Plus, this shouldn’t be the reason you’re writing the note, but it can also lead to another invitation in the future! Andrew Lee, a wildlife artist based in Alabama, has some sporty artwork, stationary, and notepads to help convey your sentiments.

“In the South, being polite will get you places. Better put: if you’re not polite, you won’t go anywhere.”

Texas Spring Turkey Season:

Rio Grande – North Zone:
March 30 – May 12, 2024

Rio Grande – South Zone:
March 16 – April 28, 2024

Eastern Turkey:
April 22 – May 14, 2024

Book a Turkey Hunt on the Ranch

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Captain Richard King had a vision when he settled alongside the Santa Gertrudis Creek in 1853. Several years later, the Ranch established a Saddle Shop to offer ranchers and cowboys the saddles, tack, and accessories of a quality suited to meet every need of the harsh range.

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