I have been on the search for a new vest or bag for turkey hunting for a while now. My favorite one has been brought back from the grave with multiple patches and re-sewn seams but it’s one trip away from shaking off it’s mortal coil for good. Sadly it is a discontinued model and I have just not found one as well designed. If only this one was built from better quality materials.
Well, I cleaned out the vest and decided to do the three piles method of lightening my load. In back packing to reduce your load you put all your gear into three piles after every trip. One pile is everything you just used on your trip. The middle pile is everything you could have used. The third is stuff you never used. That last pile might have stuff that needs to be moved to the first, like a FAK for instance. Mostly however that pile is stuff to sell or throw away. The middle pile needs to be reviewed with a seriously hairy eyeball. The first can even be evaluated for lighter weight options. When you’re done stuff from the first tow piles goes back in the pack and if you do this procedure a few times you end up with the gear you really use or might need and nothing extra.
What an eye opening adventure this was. In the keep pile were three pot calls and two strikers. One box call, one crow call, one peacock whistle, one shotgun hull (naturally it started as a loaded shell and needs replacing), my face mask and gloves, clippers, striking paper, turkey haul sling, license holder and a compass and map.
The middle pile was a beast. I had my Fall season pot and it’s striker. Cold weather gloves, another cold weather hat, face mask and a buff. White cotton gloves (my coyote gloves?). Three choke tubes (no idea why), several shells of different loads, two more crow calls, an owl call, a second peacock whistle, a wing call, a wing bone call, my tiny “virgin” hen box, a push button box, my other really good box, my conditioning stick, several pieces of condition mesh, a coyote trumpet (I must have used this vest coyote hunting sometime in the past), my deer hauling rope (??), gobbler call, mouth calls (8), strikers (6), three pot calls and finally a wet box call.
The third pile found several mismatched gloves, a pile of leaf litter, legs for a decoy I don’t even own anymore, empty bottles of bug juice, a tube of BP buck shot, a pill bottle full of 209 primers, a rabbit call, a plastic bag with a coyote’s salted face (how I missed that I’ll never know), copies of licenses for the last 10 seasons, candy wrappers, tea bags, a ball of string as big as a baseball, the accessory pack from a MRE, a spoon, a knife, and my skinning knife. You might not believe this but I’m really a neat and organized person; how this vest accumulated so much stuff was a surprise. No wonder it was so heavy.
So the first pile. I use everything in that pile every time out. The clippers are the exception. Sometimes they are needed sometimes not. They are really good ones—but they are heavy. I have tried cheaper light weight ones and they are usually just a major frustration. Could I use a knife instead? That could be the only change to this gear.
The beast pile. I don’t need to carry the Fall pot in the Spring it’s not getting thrown out but will be put aside. I suspect the cold weather gear and coyote stuff must have been left behind that is all good but will be returned to it’s proper place. I never change a choke tube in the field when turkey hunting they don’t need to come along. My spare crow calls, peacock whistles etc don’t need to be with me. One or two spare strikers are justified. I cannot use mouth calls with my new dental work so all of them are going in the trash. . I like the wing call, it’s big but it is light. If it fits in my new vest or bag I’ll carry it if not I may make a new smaller one that will fit. Like a gobble call it’s one that could get you shot while you use it. That call has gotten hung up birds moving more than once. The gobbler is a call I like but every time I shake it I half expect to be shot, I really need to make a hard choice with it. The little box call, it’s called a “Little Hot Box” by Primos, is one I rarely use but it has delivered some spectacular birds—it has also brought in pissed off hens and jakes just as often. Another hard decision. The wet box is a rainy day addition as is a certain pot and striker I carry—I’ll start carrying them as needed only.
The third pile is all not needed. I will replace the MRE pouch as I like the components all in one light weight package. I do need a refill of bug juice, but I usually spray myself at the truck and leave the can in it, sometimes it is nice to reapply if the gnats are really bad however.
Well, when I pick a new bag I’ll post some pictures and get a weight for the whole reduced load-out.