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Published May 10, 2023 1:53 PM
Wouldn’t it be cool if you got a bunch of buds together and hunted turkeys out of a wall-tent camp? Actually, let me answer that for you. Yes, it would be very cool, and I know because I’ve done it a bunch, and it’s always a blast.
Of course, you could just set up individual pup tents and do things that way. I’ve done that too, and it’s fun. But it’s a lot more fun when you have a big, comfortable communal area, where you can cook and eat and play cards and hang out and b.s. together all in one spot.
So, let’s assume you want to go all out and make this the ultimate wall-tent turkey camp for your crew. You can split the costs between you, or you can buy only the essentials for this spring, and fancy it up a little each year. Either way, here’s the gear you want.
Cabela’s Outfitter Wall Tent by Montana Canvas
Buying a quality wall tent is an investment that’s going to set you back anywhere from a grand or so to two or three times that. If that seems steep, think of it as your mobile hunting cabin. That’s peanuts for a cabin, after all, and a wall tent will last about as long and provide nearly as much comfort if you get a good one, like this Cabela’s model made by Montana Canvas.
The Outfitter comes in four sizes from 10×12 to 16×20 and is made of 10.9-oz. white cotton duck that’s treated to be fire-retardant and water- and mildew-resistant. It has a stove jack with weather flap that safely withstands super-high temperatures, plus it has a window in the back with bug screen. A metal frame is sold separately if you don’t want to build your own, as is an extra rain fly, floor, and other add-ons. No matter how you set it up, once you do, you’ll have a super-stable home base out in the wilderness that’ll keep you and your crew out of whatever weather comes.
Riley Stove Company Pellet and Wood Stoves
Your fancy new wall tent has a stove jack, and you’re going to want to stay warm, right? So, you might as well get a nice stove for heating while you’re at it. You don’t need one, necessarily. I’ve hunted out of an unheated wall tent deep into November and survived. But a stove sure is nice, and these packable models from Riley Stove Company are especially so. Available in wood-only, pellet-only, and pellet-or-wood models, Riley stoves are constructed of galvanized steel and feature patented no-warp tops and air-cooled bottoms (no sand required). The pellet stoves are gravity fed (no electricity needed) and the burner unit generates its own airflow. Riley stoves come in a wide range of sizes and prices, so you can get the one that just right for your setup.
Now that you’re sitting in the lap of wilderness luxury, in a heated cabin made of canvas, it’s not enough to just eat. You ought to eat well, and that will be a lot easier with Camp Chef’s portable Pro 14 propane stove. The two 30,000 BTU burners, with matchless ignition, have you covered for everything from brewing coffee and frying bacon to making smash burgers, soups, stews, chili, and more. But the Pro 14 isn’t just a stove; it’s a cooking system designed to work with a bunch of accessories, including a reversible griddle, bbq grill box, and even a pizza oven. Pair the Pro 14 with some good cast-iron cookware, and the menu at hunting camp can include just about anything you want.
If it’s just you and a buddy, you can probably set up cots at opposite ends of the big wall tent and sleep in relative peace. But if you’ve got a bigger group and don’t want to listen to everyone’s snoring all night, you’ll want some satellite sleeping tents. White Duck’s Regatta Bell Tents are perfect for this. Made of tough 8.5-ounce army duck cotton canvas with a water-repellent and mold- and UV-resistant finish, they are made to last a lifetime, stand up to rough weather, and they offer lots of space and head room so you’re not bent over the whole time you’re inside. Available in a range of sizes, these tents come with a galvanized-steel frame, a stove jack, and a sewn-in 7.5-ounce groundsheet. Put a cot or two in each and snooze in comfort.
ALPS Mountaineering Camp Cot
I used to think that I couldn’t sleep while camping. But then I got a good cot and realized that I just can’t sleep on the ground. With a powdered-aluminum frame, 325-pound capacity, and a 600D polyester sleeping fabric, the ALPS Camp Cot gets you up off the floor and offers plenty of room for you to stretch out and get comfy. Speaking of which, you might as well go all out and get a nice self-inflating pad and cozy sleeping bag too. The cot sets up quickly with solid steel connectors and breaks down in a snap when the hunt is over and fits neatly into an included carry bag.
You can’t have too many camp chairs, and this Campside model from ALPS comes with a 14×10-inch side table with cupholder, perfect for the fireside. Fold the table down at the dinner table in the wall tent, then bring out to the fireside to hold your coffee in the morning or your beer at night. It has a 600D polyester-fabric seat and powder-coated steel frame that holds up to 300 pounds, and the chair folds to a compact size for easy transport and storage.
You don’t need me to tell you that you need some Thermacell units at turkey camp. So think of this as just a friendly reminder that you probably don’t want to get eaten alive.
The last wall-tent turkey camp I went to was set up in a small grove of trees surrounded by Nebraska’s sandhills. At any point, you could peer out the front door of the main wall tent and spot a far-off dark blob out on the prairie that might be a strutter. And that’s is why it’s nice to a have a camp binocular—so that when someone says, “What’s that out there?” you can find out. You won’t need to carry it far, so you might as well get a big, powerful model like Maven’s C.4 15×56. Odds are you don’t want to spend really big bucks on a camp binocular, and the C.4 gives you all the power and image quality you need around the campsite for a mid-range price. It also makes a great truck binocular for turkey hunting when everyone else is in the field and you don’t need it to be at camp.
At that same Nebraska camp, I was lucky enough that the hosts provided shotguns. None of your guests are going to expect that, of course, but maybe while you’re investing in a killer turkey camp, it’s time to seriously upgrade your turkey gun, too. At our camp, we all toted Benelli SBE3 Turkey Performance Shop 12 gauges, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better gobbler gun. Benelli worked with Arkansas gunsmith and choke-tube specialist Rob Roberts to squeeze the best performance possible from the SBE3 Turkey. Roberts combined a custom .655 choke with longer forcing cones to optimize pattern density. The 3½-inch 12-gauge weighs 6.8 pounds, has a 24-inch barrel, a pistol-grip stock, and comes with a Burris FastFire II red-dot. It ain’t cheap, but if you’re going all-out on your turkey gear, this is probably the gun to have.
Our hosts also provided ammo for those shotguns—and not just any ammo. We had our choice of Federal Premium Heavyweight TSS and Remington’s new Premium TSS Turkey Loads. Both gave us patterns bordering on ridiculous out to 50 yards and beyond—farther than I want to shoot a turkey. Federal TSS comes in a wide range of options, including 3- and 3-1/2-inch 12-gauge loads in shot sizes 7, 9, and a mix of 7 and 9; 3-inch 20-gauge loads in 7, 9, 7 and 9, and 8 and 10; and 3-inch .410 loads in 9 shot. Remington TSS comes in 3-inch 12-gauge and 20-gauge loads of 7 or 9 shot, and 3-inch .410 loads in 9 shot. TSS ain’t cheap either, but when you’ve set you yourself and your buddies up in the ultimate turkey camp, you might as well shoot the good stuff.