This week we’re at the 2018 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas. We’ve seen a ton of new gear, and as diehard turkey hunters who are excited for season to get rolling in a couple months, we’ve watched — and listened — for new turkey hunting gear. And not surprisingly, we’ve found it.
Here’s a list of five favorites. Any one of these products could help you bag your bird this spring.
1. Avian-X Trophy Tom: From the same company that makes hunter-preferred Zink Calls, Avian-X makes some of the most realistic and effective turkey decoys available today. Their Lifesize Collapsible Decoy (LCD) line is the first choice of many experienced turkey hunters and includes seven carefully conceived poses that tell a compelling story in your spread, no matter when or where you’re hunting. And get this: They even offer models that faithfully reproduce multiple turkey subspecies.
New from Avian-X in 2018 is the unique and versatile Trophy Tom. Sittin’ pretty on the wall one day and in the field drawing the ire of dominant gobblers the next, the Avian-X Trophy Tom serves double-duty as an affordable and beautiful way to display the tail fan and beard of your trophy gobbler, as well as the ultimate portable strutting or stalking decoy.
Molded in intricate detail and finished with a striking, true-to-life paint job, the Trophy Tom looks just like the real thing. The one-piece design holds the dried tail fan and the beard from any gobbler and is easily hung on the wall. Better yet, the Trophy Tom takes up little space, extending from the wall only slightly farther than a large, framed print. This means hunters can proudly, beautifully and easily display their trophy gobbler just about anywhere in their home or office.
The attached carry handle and included collapsible mounting stake make transportation and field use easy. Whether adding that all-important element of visual attraction — a tail fan — to your decoy spread, or using it for fanning, Avian-X’s versatile new Trophy Tom solves all kinds of problems. Available in early 2018, the Trophy Tom has an MSRP of $79.99.
2. Tenzing TZ TV18 Turkey Vest: A turkey hunter’s vest is his or her mobile office; it needs to provide effective storage and fast access to the tools a turkey hunter may need at any given moment. It should also be comfortable. Nobody wants to be weighed down with an overly bulky or ill-fitting vest while playing hide-and-seek with Ol’ Mr. Longbeard. And when the time comes to hunker down and finish him, it had better allow you to sit motionless.
In the spring woods, it’s tough to beat Tenzing’s new TZ TV18 Turkey Vest. Weighing in at a trim 3 pounds, the new lightweight TZ TV18 turkey vest fits like a pack, courtesy of fully adjustable pack-style shoulder straps, which ensure a comfortable fit against any hunter’s torso. A high-performance air-mesh back panel lends additional comfort while walking, running, crawling or sitting on the integral, fold-down dual-layer foam seat. The seat cushion deploys and stows fast and reliably using integral straps and HDPE quick-release hardware.
Once seated, turkey hunters can call ‘em close or wait ‘em out with a minimal movement, as the TZ TV18 is engineered for complete comfort while placing every turkey-hunting tool within easy reach. A multi-layer design helps the vest keep its form, while gear stays organized, silent and readily accessible in a network of specialized pockets, including dedicated pockets and compartments for box calls, pots, strikers, diaphragm calls, shells and more.
A total capacity of 2500 cubic inches ensures ample space inside for bulkier items such as decoys, snacks, cameras and waterbottles. The TZ TV18’s pair of perfectly positioned handwarmer pockets is a welcomed luxury on chilly mornings, and there’s even a special compartment offering fast access to the hunter’s phone. The TZ TV18 (MSRP $149.99) is available in Realtree Edge or Mossy Oak Obsession.
3. Tenzing TR18 Turkey Recliner: “Running and gunning” is a demanding technique, requiring a quarter-mile stalk, 100-yard dash or 50-yard belly crawl at any given moment. Combine this with turkey hunting’s gear-intensive nature, and you’ll need a specialized pack that’s fully up to task. We suggest the new TZ TR18 Turkey Recliner.
Available in Realtree Edge or Mossy Oak Obsession, the TZ TR18 Turkey Recliner combines a structured internal aluminum frame with two silent, spring-loaded legs and a dual-layer foam seat to quickly and quietly convert into a self-supported hunting chair. Hunters can sit comfortably amongst the thick stuff without a tree or log to lean against, while gear remains at the ready in a multitude of specialized pockets, including dedicated compartments for box calls, diaphragm calls, pot calls, strikers and shells. Of course, there’s even a special compartment for a phone.
For even more utility, the TZ TR18 Turkey Recliner’s quick-detachable front pocket sections can be laid across the hunters lap to minimize movement while accessing calls or other items. When it’s time to make a move, the Turkey Recliner’s legs and seat stow in a flash as pack, gear and hunter move efficiently to the next set-up.
Whether waiting out Ol’ Tom at his morning strutting zone or chasing him down along his milk route, the TZ TR18 comes through when it comes to keeping calls, shells, decoys and other critical gear secure, quiet and accessible. Most importantly, perhaps, it allows its wearer to sit motionless and in total comfort once the big show begins. And this is not a misprint: at just 5.25 pounds, it’s Tenzing’s lightest turkey hunting pack/chair ever.
Both the new TZ TV18 Turkey Vest and the new TZ TR18 Turkey Recliner (MSRP $219.99) will be available in early 2018.
4. Flextone Lil’Double and Lil’V Diaphragm Calls: Fit isn’t something most hunters take into consideration when they pull a mouth call off the rack at the sporting goods store. For the most part, these highly popular turkey calls fall into the one size fits most category. Too bad, because not all turkey hunters have the same size palate. Fortunately, the ace call designers at Flextone have come-up with a line of calls that provide a better fit for smaller mouths and narrower palates. Even better, the calls sound great, too.
The Flextone Lil’ Nasty and the all-new Lil’ Double and Lil’ V are custom crafted for folks who are tired of stuffing a full-sized diaphragm into their mouths when there isn’t room for one. These new undersized diaphragm calls feature the same traditional cuts and reed configurations found in full-frame calls, but offer a more streamlined profile and compact design. Easy to blow, these calls are perfect for women, youth or any turkey hunter with a smaller palate. (Lil’ Double MSRP, $4.99; Lil’V MSRP, $4.99)
5. Flextone Thunder Shaker Gobble Call: With the increasing availability of gobbler decoys on the market today, many hunters have started to use the illusion of turkey dominance to bag their trophy toms. But visible cues are only a part of this rouse. Since dominant toms often listen to their domain from the safety of heavy cover and dark shadows, pushing his fight button can require additional stimuli beyond an intruder jake or gobbler decoy. This is when a vocalization or two — one that demands attention — can seal the deal. In these cases, using a compelling gobble call is a great way to push him over the edge.
The new Flextone Thunder Shaker Gobble is an easy-to-master bellows style call featuring durable construction for years of carefree use. Just give it a shake, and this simple-yet-effective call produces incredibly accurate, natural gobbles.
Following hen yelps and cutts with a gobble — just like real turkeys do — is a great way to create additional realism and intrigue in your calling repertoire. The Thunder Shaker Gobble allows a single hunter to use a mouth call to create hen sounds, and then unleash an incredibly realistic gobble at just the right time. When the boss hears one of his ladies being courted by an intruder, he’ll often come running right in to settle the matter.
Flextone’s new diaphragm calls and Thunder Gobble Shaker (MSRP $17.99) will be available in early 2018.