If you’re looking for a go-anywhere, carry everything turkey vest, this may be your ticket
by Larry Case
I have been turkey hunting a long time. Depending on where you start in my misguided-wonderful career as a turkey hunter, let’s just say it’s north of forty years, OK? I have seen turkey gear come and go and, to be honest, it would seem we have reached a point of critical mass as to how much different gear and gizmos it is possible to carry around with you while chasing these crazy (and I do mean crazy) gobbling birds.
For a few years now, I have been preaching to myself that I will go for the “less is more” rule as to how much I am going to take with me every day. I think that if I could get down to two diaphragm calls and two extra shotgun shells in my pockets (and maybe a couple Little Debbie cakes), I would be able to get around in the woods a lot better and be a lot happier. Well, as you may surmise, this never works, and I sometimes end up with a turkey vest so heavy it feels I’m carrying a load that would make a rented mule balk.
How much gear you are going to carry is a personal choice and this varies widely among turkey hunters. How well you manage the load depends on the vest you choose. A well designed, comfortable vest will tote your gear comfortably, keep you in the woods longer, and enhance your readiness for the encounter with Mr. Gobbler.
ALPS OutdoorZ has been making turkey vests that I have been looking at for a while. In truth, it may be possible to configure the pockets on a turkey vest only so many ways, and you either have enough pockets or you don’t, and you have the kind of pockets you want or you don’t. The ALPS OutdoorZ Grand Slam Turkey Vest, for me, has both. I want to be able to situate different calls in different, appropriate pockets and I need a couple deep “miscellaneous” type pockets for all the various things I am going to carry. I may not need it, but I want it.
The Grand Slam Turkey Vest boasts numerous call pockets, including a removable, protective diaphragm call pocket, two slate call pockets, a striker pocket (which holds up to three strikers and one large locator call), a protective box call pocket, and a locator call pocket. The turkey you are working may never answer you, but you will have your entire arsenal with you.
Now, let’s talk about comfort for a minute. I have never associated comfort and successfully setting up on a gobbler in the same sentence. It usually just does not happen. I know people who have probably quit hunting with me long ago because they think I will purposely pick the most uncomfortable place to sit I can find. That is not true; it is just that nice, level, comfortable seats with a big wide tree to lean against (and no rocks growing under your posterior) almost never happen with a gobbling turkey in the vicinity. Sometimes there is no tree whatsoever exactly where you want to sit, or if there is one, it is so spindly you know that leaning against it will soon turn into a session about as comfortable as going to an audit with the IRS.
The Grand Slam Turkey Vest features a “sit anywhere” removable kickstand frame, which allows you to set up wherever the birds may be without worrying about finding a spot to lean against. The legs are adjustable and feature fast-locking technology to ensure you can set up quickly when the need arises. A thick-padded fold-away seat is integrated into the design, and detachable shoulder straps ensure maximum comfort and range of motion for when it’s time to take the shot.
Being old school and generally suspicious of most anything, I was not sure about this feature of the vest to start with. On the first trip to the woods with the Grand Slam, I quickly discovered that extending the legs of the frame and locking them in only takes a few seconds. The frame easily supported my current 240 pounds. (No comments please.) If you have ever sat down to call to turkey without having something to lean against, you will appreciate this feature. If you have never done that, well, you haven’t been turkey hunting very long.
Here is something else I like about this vest. The metal frame that allows you to sit anywhere is easily removable. If I decide to take it off and go without it, I have a functional turkey vest with a thick foam pad to sit on.
The Grand Slam turkey vest is H2O-compatible, and includes two side water bottle pockets. Two mesh zippered pockets inside of the vest are perfect for stowing valuables, like truck keys and pocketknives, and the included smartphone sleeve allows you to use your phone while it’s securely in the pocket. Five shell loops make accessing your extra ammo a breeze, and the side compression straps ensure a good fit no matter your body type. A large game bag is also included, so you are ready if you luck out and carry a turkey home with you.
How much gear you decide to stuff into the ALPS OutdoorZ Grand Slam Turkey Vest is up to you, but short of two anvils and a small kitchen sink, I believe it will hold it. I give this vest 4.75 gold stars out of 5. (I never give anything 5!)