Turkey Hunting Safety 101

With the upcoming turkey hunting season right around the corner, now is the time for preparation. Gun safety should be the primary concern of every turkey hunter. The most common gun injuries involve someone shooting another hunter who is stalking decoys, or someone shooting another person because they failed to identify their target.

Turkey hunting is not for the unprepared hunter. Take all nessarry precautions before going out to hunt. Make sure your gun is properly cleaned, you have proper camouflage on, and ALWAYS be aware of your target. If you're not sure, don't shoot. Photo courtesy of NWTF.

Avoid mishaps by never stalking wild turkeys, and make sure of your target and what's beyond before you shoot. Because of this, hunting safety experts advise the following additional safety measures:

  • Never wear or carry anything colored red, white or blue. Those are the colors of a wild turkey's head, and could tempt someone to shoot in your direction.

  • Never use a gobble call to attract turkeys. Another hunter might stalk and shoot you
  • Never carry or move an uncovered turkey decoy.
  • Never assume that what answers your call is a real turkey.

  • Never stalk or try to sneak up on a turkey.
  • Choose a hunting location from which you can see 40 yards in all directions.

The greatest pleasure in turkey hunting is calling the birds to within shooting range of your shotgun. Not only does calling take practice, but it takes patience, too. It could take minutes — or hours — to lure that tom to come close enough for a shot.

Of course, you won't shoot a gobbler if there are none in the area. Scout your hunting zone as close to your permit period as possible, so that you're not hunting a bird that another hunter has already killed, or one that has moved out of the area in search of hens. Alternatively, rely on past knowledge of turkey locations to guide your hunt. If an area was good for one tom, another will move in there when that one was killed.

The early morning hours are the best time for turkey hunting, but don't underestimate the value of hunting later in the day. Often, the noon hour is a good time to get toms fired up and coming to your calling location. Take a lunch and stick it out — just like you're supposed to do during deer hunting season

It's important to locate birds prior to your hunting period, but there are several factors influencing wild turkeys in spring that may mean they won't be where you found them during pre-season scouting trips. Spring weather is in transition, and with the warming weather, large winter turkey flocks will begin to break up and disperse. Competition between gobblers — and hens seeking a place to nest — scatters these birds.

This decoy has been successful at luring in longbeards on a number of occasions. Do your homework: set up decoys, make an effort to properly scout your hunting area. These are all things you can control, and defiantly things you should be doing before any kind of turkey hunting.

You will get the most up-to-date information on gobbler location in your hunting zone by scouting just prior to the valid hunting period for your permit. If turkey hunting is important to you, plan to get out scouting on those two days when the season is closed. You won't be disturbing other hunters, and any toms you locate will still be there on Wednesday when your five-day hunt begins.

If you happen to draw a permit for one of the later hunting periods, hunt just as intensely as if you drew an early period. It could be very warm during mid-May hunts, and that makes early morning the best time to be out there. Gobblers can shut down by midmorning when the temperature gets hot. Take along insect repellent, too, since mosquitoes and ticks will be active in the warm weather.

During the later hunting periods, you will have to scout while you hunt. This provides you with the most up-to-date information available about gobbler location and activity. Hunting pressure has an effect on turkeys, and they get wiser as the weeks pass.

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