Safety During the Turkey Season

Some of these from the National Wild Turkey Federation apply where ever you hunt and some are particularly important if you hunt turkey on public land. It never fails and seems to happen every year, but someone is shot by another hunter during the season when mistaken for a turkey. So here you go.

Leave the area if you suspect another hunter is already working a bird. This is especially true on public land. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the realistic calls of the hen yelp and those of another hunter. If you have any doubts, move on to another location. Coincidental to this, resist the urge to stalk turkey sounds. You can’t sneak up on a turkey anyway and the clucks and yelps you hear could be another hunter.

Select a calling location in open timber rather than thick brush: wearing camouflage clothing and eliminating movement is more critical to success than hiding in heavy cover. As safe as you may be, there are unethical hunters out there who will shoot at sounds and noises. Being in heavy brush makes you difficult to identify as another hunter making those enticing sounds. When selecting that calling location choose a large stump, blow-down, tree trunk or rock that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head. That breaks up your outline but also prevents you from being shot from behind.

Never wear bright colors, especially not red, white, blue or black because these are the colors of a wild turkey gobbler. Even watch out for those colors on items like socks, T-shirts and sweatshirts. Wear dark clothing like camouflage and tuck your pants into your boots.

Remain still and speak in a loud, clear voice to announce your presence to other hunters if necessary. Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence. Sudden moves or turkey sounds may cause another hunter to turn and aim or fire his or her shotgun in your direction.

We all use camouflage to turkey hunt so we are difficult to see and its proper use is important. Part of your clothing should include gloves and a head net so another hunter will not mistake your skin for the color of a bird. Also, make sure you maintain a clear field of view when using a camouflage blind or netting.

Turkey decoys have become increasingly important in calling in a wary gobbler. When transporting your decoy to and from your site in the field insure you keep it covered. If possible stuff it in the pouch on the back of your vest or if it is a full size decoy put it in a bag. If you are fortunate enough to harvest a turkey, despite what you see on the TV shows, cover the birds head and body when leaving the field. Also, many turkey vests contain a pull out hunter orange panel that you can use when leaving the field.

And lastly, always remember these basic rules of gun safety: Treat every gun as if it were loaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction, and never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot. If we all observe the above principle we will have a better chance of a successful and safe hunt.

Along with the Youth turkey opener on April 1st, that is the opening day for Hatchery Supported trout waters, commonly referred to as “bring your own rock to stand on” day starting at 7 a.m. that morning. Hatchery Supported waters are identified by a diamond shaped sign trimmed in green with the words Hatchery Supported in the middle. The reason these waters are so popular is because there are no size or bait limits. The daily creel limit is 7 trout.

Delayed Harvest waters continue to be catch-and-release only through June 2nd. They are identified by that same diamond shaped sign trimmed in black with Delayed Harvest in the middle. Until that last date, bait is restricted to artificial lures with a single hook. No natural bait may be possessed on these waters. So after a brief lull for the month of March, and with a couple more hours of daylight in the evening, it’s time to get back out in the woods and streams of our mountains.

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