Fall Turkey Hunting: Think Safety, Hunt Safely
Fall turkey hunting is a popular and long-standing tradition in the Keystone State.
Firearm Safety Rules
During the 20th century, the fall season was closed for only two years in Pennsylvania to allow turkey populations to recover, and Pennsylvania hunters have opportunities ranging from a few days to three weeks in which to pursue fall birds depending on the area they hunt.
Fall success is dependent on three main factors — turkey recruitment (number of young birds), mast availability and weather. A poor mast crop concentrates turkeys around a few food sources, while a good mast crop spreads turkeys over larger areas.
With the fall turkey season scheduled to open on Nov. 1, 2008, hunters need to remember to hunt safely even though turkey hunting is safe and incidents have been down over the past five years. The NWTF Pennsylvania Chapter and the Pennsylvania Game Commission have been highlighting safe hunting practices in hunter education classes, public service announcement and through the media.
The first rule to hunting is to positively identify the target. The second is to practice defensive turkey hunting tactics such as setting up against a rock or tree wider than your shoulders and higher than your head, and paying attention to the woods around you.
While hunter orange is still required during Pennsylvania's fall turkey season, hunters shouldn't rely on it. Hikers and wildlife watchers might not remember to wear it, and it is up to the hunter to know at what he or she is aiming.
With this year's turkey recruitment, Pennsylvania turkey hunters should have a good year. Have fun, be safe and good luck. Bob Kasun, NWTF Pennsylvania State Chapter
Hunting Safety Tips
Safety is a key element when you're in the woods calling in a big gobbler. A safe turkey hunter is much like a safe driver-you must be defensive minded. Also, keep in mind that a safe hunter is an effective hunter. Here are some tips to consider when you're in the woods:
Select a large stump, blow-down, tree trunk, or rock that is wider than your shoulders and taller than your head when calling.
Never wear white, red, black or blue since these are the colors of a gobbler's head and body. This includes handkerchiefs, socks, T-shirts and even items such as candy wrappers and insect repellant.
When calling, select a spot that is in open timber rather than thick brush. Eliminating movement and camouflage is more critical to success than heavy cover.
If you imitate the sound of a gobbling turkey, you could call in other hunters. You should always be cautious, but especially when hunting public land.
Be alert. A good woodsman can always detect movement in the forest by watching other game or listening for the alarm cries of blue jays, crows, squirrels and woodpeckers. When songbirds, crows or your turkey goes quiet — look out, there's a good chance another hunter is moving in on your bird and has already spooked it.
If another hunter enters your hunting area, never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert the other hunter. Remain still and call out to them in a loud, clear voice to get his or her attention.