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10 Tips for a Safe Spring Turkey Hunt

The beginning of the spring wild turkey hunting season is an exciting time that more than 2.7 million turkey hunters nationwide have looked forward to for several months.

But hunters need to make sure their excitement does not blind them to the precautions they should take to ensure a safe and successful day in the field.

With that in mind, the NWTF offers 10 tips for hunters to consider this season when they're in the woods:

  • Leave the area if you suspect there's another hunter already working the same bird.

  • Resist the urge to stalk turkey sounds. It is nearly impossible to sneak up on a turkey — they see and hear the slightest movements. Stalking is one of the most common causes of incidents.

  • Pick your spot in open timber rather than thick brush. Eliminating movement and excess noise is more critical to success than hiding in heavy cover. Camouflage clothing also helps.

  • When calling turkeys, place your back against a large stump, tree trunk, rock, etc., that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head to avoid potential confusion from other hunters.

  • Never wear red, white, blue or black — those are colors of a wild turkey gobbler's head and body — even on socks or buttons. Do not wear any bright colors. Wear dark undershirts and socks and pants long enough to tuck into boots.

  • Remain still and speak in a loud, clear voice to announce yourself to other hunters if necessary. Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence.

  • Keep your hands and head camouflaged when calling.

  • Maintain a clear field of view when using a camouflage blind or netting. Set a perimeter of no more than 40 yards.

  • Make sure your decoy is not visible when you are transporting it. Stash the decoy in your vest and check that the head is not sticking out. If you harvest a wild turkey during your hunting trip, you should cover the bird's head and body when carrying it to your vehicle.

  • Put your gun safety on and approach the downed bird with your firearm pointed in a safe direction after firing. Never run with a firearm.

Note: Before heading afield this spring, check with your state or provincial wildlife agency for hunting seasons and bag limits.

The NWTF is committed to making hunter safety a top priority. In 1991, the NWTF initiated the National Turkey Hunting Safety Task Force to complement the hunter safety efforts of state agencies, the International Hunters Education Association, the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The task force — composed of hunting and shooting safety experts from around the country — has produced and distributed more than 1 million pieces of hunting safety information.

Thanks to the cooperative efforts of the members of the National Turkey Hunting Task Force, the number of turkey hunting incidents continues to decrease even as turkey hunters flock to the woods in increasing numbers. Spring turkey hunting incidents have decreased from 8.1 per 100,000 in 1991 to 2.95 per 100,000 in 2001, the most recent year data was updated.




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