Bob Humphrey photo
By Bob Humphrey
Turkey seasons are in full swing across much of the country, and while bagging a bearded bird is foremost in the minds of hunters, safety afield should also be a constant consideration.
If you arrive at your destination only to find another hunter has beaten you there, or if you come upon another hunter working a bird, move on. Etiquette and common courtesy award the location to the first hunter on scene. And no bird is worth risking your safety or that of another hunter.
The conventional method for spring turkey hunting is to pick a spot and try to call a bird to your location. Don’t stalk turkeys. For starters, it’s nigh on to impossible as their keen eyes and ears will almost always pick you out. Furthermore, the sound you hear may not be a turkey. It could be another hunter. Stalking is one of the most common causes of incidents.
If carrying decoys or a harvested turkey in your game pouch, make sure they are not visible when transporting them. It’s also a good idea to display some blaze orange while moving about. If riding an ATV or Side-by-Side vehicle, stick to the designated trails. Always wear proper safety equipment, including helmet, eye protection, gloves and boots. Make sure guns are unloaded and cased while traveling in or on any motorized vehicle.
Try to set up in open timber or on a field edge where you have good visibility, rather than in thick brush. If you keep movement and noise to a minimum and cover yourself with camouflage clothing you should still be undetectable to keen-eyed turkeys. Never wear bright colors, especially red, white, blue or black; and sit with your back against a large stump, tree trunk or rock - something wider than your shoulders and higher than your head.
Keep your safety on until you’re ready to fire. Then, be absolutely certain of your target, and what’s beyond it. Be alert for other birds, livestock or anything else that could have wandered into your field of fire. Upon shooting a turkey, put your safety back on and approach the downed bird with your muzzle pointed in a safe direction. You can approach quickly, but never run with a firearm.
Should you observe, or even suspect another hunter approaching, remain still and speak in a loud, clear voice to announce yourself. Don’t move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence.