Turkey Hunting Safety Urged After Recent Shooting Accidents

Turkey Hunting Safety Urged After Recent Shooting Accidents
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The one thing you cannot over-prepare for before turkey hunting is assuring the safety for you and others. No. 1: Know your target.

That's especially relevant with recent reports of shooting accidents involving turkey hunters:

  • Two men from Arkansas were seriously wounded by the third member of their party on the opening day of the 2017 turkey season near Girard, Kansas. According to the Joplin, Mo., Globe newspaper, the two men were wounded in the face and upper body when they were mistaken for a turkey. The shooter, who was the brother of one of the wounded, told authorities he thought he had been "calling" in a turkey before he fired his 12-gauge shotgun. OutdoorHub reported the two wounded men were using a hunting tactic called "reaping" or "fanning," in which a hunter or hunters hide behind a fan made of turkey feathers. The two men were hunting in an area opposite the shooter. Authorities considered the shooting accidental. No word on any charges. The men are expected to recover, according to the Wichita Eagle.

  • This week, a video was shared on Facebook showing a turkey hunter being shot in the leg from behind as he and two other hunters. The wound did not appear to be serious. It was unknown when or where the incident occurred. Seer the video here, and comment on it on Game & Fish's Facebook page.

Below is a Game & Fish article published last spring, "Turkey Hunting Safety 101," which covers how to stay safe in the woods during the turkey season. (Note: a quick search on your state's DNR or fish and wildlife agency website may provide more specific regulations for your area)

By Gary Smith

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.

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.

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.

turkey hunting safety
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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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