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Sorting Our Gear


Each spring a ritual ensues. It is a passage of time that brings memories to the forefront of my mind and seems to bring with it a sense of melancholy and joy at the same time. It is that time of year that I dig through all of my hunting stuff and begin to put together my turkey hunting vest.

A pile of calls are all brought to the workbench and displayed like a museum. From the very first call I ever bought to the ones still in the store packaging. Sorted by category. First are the box calls, all twenty three of them. Each one different and unique. Here they must audition for this year’s addition to the vest. One by one they are played with the delicacy of a violinist. Soft purrs, loud yelps, cutts, each one moved from the display to either “to be considered” or “retired”. This brings me down to four that will determine which ones make the cut.

After the box calls, I move to the pot calls and strikers. One by one they are run, listened to, played again, sanded and listened to once more until the stack of fifty something is reduced to a handful. And so I move, through the boxes full of calls. Until I am finally down to the final cut. Looking at my vest, I can surmise how many I can carry and still walk upright. In the end, there are two different box calls, four pot calls with a dozen strikers. One real wingbone, one trumpet, two tube calls, and seven diaphragm calls. Plus a scratch box, crow call, and scratch pads to recondition the pot calls. Chalk for the box call and scratch box. Sandpaper for the crystal pot, gloves, face mask, camo makeup, extra face mask, cushion, chair, shotgun shells…. By the time I am done, my vest weighs in at twenty two pounds.

A mistake I made once, and never again, was not sorting out my gear before opening day. I “assumed” that all of my gear from last year was still in the vest. Only to discover that the box call was there, so too was the pot calls, but no striker and the vest carried 20 gauge shells from when I took my son. The day was a bust because of my lack of planning and preparation. So now, I spend two to three hours sorting out all of my gear to make sure I have everything I need.

I will still forget something, but this time it is not because I didn’t plan, I just plain forgot.

Sorting the gear is one of the best moments of the season. Each call, and feather brings back hunts from long ago. They race to the forefront of our mind and put a smile on our faces of the days when all was right with the world and our day ended with an old tom thrown over our shoulder.