May 16, 2018
Chasing Spring Gobblers with First Lite Phantom Gear
Spring turkey hunting can involve some unpredictable weather as Mother Nature cannot seem to make up her mind at times. However, there remains one constant when chasing spring gobblers and that is they can be one tough bird to fool.
There are a lot of ways to try and be successful each spring, but probably one of the most important considerations in this case is your camouflage. A turkey’s vision and ability to detect movement is scary good, so I was excited this season to give the Phantom lineup from First Lite a run at some Wisconsin turkeys to see how close and personal I could get in on some birds.
I was originally excited about the Phantom Gear’s camouflage advantage with that nice leafy breakup, but another amazing benefit to having these pieces was how easy they were to layer on top of my other clothes, making them incredibly versatile for the variety of weather thrown at us over the long weekend. This combo of amazing concealment and the ability to easily layer the First Lite phantom top and balaclava, made these two pieces an awesome pair for this year’s spring turkey hunting.
Concealment and Layering Flexibility
I was back in my home state of Wisconsin to hunt the third turkey season of the year, which has become an annual spring gobbler trip with the boys out in western WI. Two weeks prior, the whole state was blanketed in snow for the turkey opener, but headed into week three the forecast was looking much more favorable. In fact, maybe too hot with the highs predicted to get into the 80s. The boys were all griping about not having light enough gear, but with the First Lite Phantom pieces I knew I’d be sitting comfortable with that breathable mesh top and the ability to just wear a t-shirt underneath.
The ability to have the top as an outer layer on anything makes this Phantom Leafy Top an extremely versatile piece. For cooler mornings where you need some layers underneath to the 80 degree days with just a t-shirt, this top is ideal for spring turkey hunting. On top of that, I am already thinking about how I want to add this piece to the lineup for those early season whitetail sits before the temps really start to drop.
The Phantom 3D Balaclava is also a very versatile headpiece that gives you tons of cover. You can throw this on over any ball cap and you’re ready to rock as Mr. Old Boss Tom starts to make his way across the strut zone. It’s a great face mask, and much more comfortable than the one I’ve worn in years past. I like how it fully covers the head and neck, giving you complete coverage with lots of breathability for those warmer days.
What’s also great about these pieces is that they’re so light and packable. You can throw them in your bag or in a big pocket on your way out into the field. Then once you’re ready to set up shop for a few hours, you can throw these outer layers on for the ultimate concealment. The portability, the ability to use with any layers underneath, and the amazing concealment make the phantom pieces an awesome package for the turkey or whitetail hunter.
So how did the gear work?
Western Wisconsin and the surrounding area is known as the Driftless Area. An area of the country that was never glaciated, leaving the landscape much more rugged than one would typically expect. Because you have these dramatic hills and sharp features, it makes for some interesting challenges chasing birds.
We had a lot of success this year getting on offense with the turkeys and actually reaping into close range with tom decoys. One morning we had a full bachelor group of toms coming in towards our setup, but they ducked the top of this rolling hill out of sight. My good buddy recommended getting aggressive with the reaper decoy to take a peak over the top of the hill. I crawled out in full phantom mode with the reaper decoy out front. Sure enough, as I crested the top of the hill, I saw the tops of two big fans pointed my way. The birds locked in on the decoy and started to come in to check things out, and I was able to take a nice mature bird that morning. It was an awesome hunt.
With the 80 degree weather and solid camouflage needed to get in close to birds to be successful, the First Lite Phantom Lineup worked extremely well. It will become a staple in my turkey hunting kit, and I’m also excited to take it up in the tree this coming fall when whitetail season comes around.