Hunting turkeys in the Eastern part of the U.S. can have you spending quite a bit of time sitting against trees. After a couple of years of back pain and discomfort from doing so, I came up with this simple and ultra-lightweight modification for my turkey vest that makes even the knobbiest cypress tree feel relatively comfortable.
I took a 3/4ths length Thermarest (design has changed some since I bought this one ~15 years ago, but the idea is the same: Lightweight sleeping pad that stops at your knees. The newer , tapered designs may actually be more form fitting), which weights a mere pound, deflated it to about 35%, rolled it up, and cinched it in place to my vest.
Now, when a gobbler keeps me locked in place for hours, I’m not fighting the urge to have to reposition my back. I have found that mountaineering, climbing and backpacking gear can be well applied to hunting specific needs, often times, in a more practical and cost effective manner than what the hunting industry produces. The hunting industry tends to produce over-designed, over specific, (not to mentioned) over priced, gear that are more of a solutions in search of a problems rather than solutions to actual problems. For example, slap some camo and a familiar hunting industry name brand on this sleeping pad, call it a “Air Cushioned Turkey Vest” and you can imagine the price tag.
Speaking of turkey hunting, living in the South and hunting the swamp bottoms of West Tennessee and North Mississippi, I am no stranger to ticks and mosquitos. The best combination of bug resistance I have found is the following combination:
Skin: Nutri Shield Insect Repellent, a all natural, plant base repellent. I spray down with this product from head to toe. Despite sweating profusely in the Spring Turkey woods of the South, the product seems to remain effective all day. If you do some research, similar products can be made at home.
Clothes: Sawyer Permithrin, which is advertised as being good for 6 washings. I spray all of my outer wear including socks (but not sock liners) down with this product. During turkey season, I usually just leave my outer wear hanging outside and do not bother washing any of it. Yes it starts to stink, but so do I after the first 30 minutes in the woods. By doing this, I only need to refresh my clothes once or twice during turkey season. I also spray my vest down to keep ticks off of it. Permithrin can also be mixed at home cheaply, but a single bottle of Sawyers tends to last me 3 seasons.
Exterior: Most hunters are by now familiar with the Therma Cell. This product works and it works well. The initial investment is inexpensive, but they sure do get you on the refills. If you do a little research, however, there are hacks to refilling your own fuel cells.
Using this combination of products, I personally do not get ticks despite hunting some tick infested areas. The Therma Cell can make tolerable the nastiest, mosquito infested area. If you have any doubt how effective it is, just forget your refills on a sweltering day….
Sunrise on the opening day in Mississippi was this past Friday (March 15th). Conditions were tough this year: It was windy, the area I was hunting had very recently been burned (looking for a black bird in the burnt woods….) and the birds were not gobbling much. However, my the Tennessee opener on March 30th, the woods should be alive and green with gobbles, mosquitos and ticks.