Having a safe spring turkey hunting season is like being a defensive driver: think ahead and see the whole picture.
Spring gobbler season is almost upon us. Now is the time to think about more than just where you will sit on opening morning. Having an open mind towards safety is the responsibility of every hunter that will don head-to-toe camouflage and stroll with a big smile into the turkey woods this spring.
Here are some of the basics of firearm handling, safety with your decoy, and what you will wear. Opening day is not the time to fall asleep when it comes hunting and hunting safely. This short review will get your mind re-set and then back on the prize: big spurs and a long beard.
1. Success and safety covered in camo.
- Never wear colors that could be mistaken for a turkey, especially a gobbler. Even underneath camo, red, blue, and white can be seen. Wear a dark shirt and pants long enough to tuck into boots. This way, hunters won't mistake you for their quarry.
- When possible, use a spot in an open area of the woods. Wearing good camouflage and being still are more important than sitting in heavy cover.
- Bring a pad and set up on the ground with your back against a tree that is wider than your shoulders and over your head.
- If using a blind or netting, make sure that you have a clear view of your surroundings.
- Keep your head and hands covered with camo at all times while calling; gun camouflage is a must as well.
- If another hunter is spotted, never move or use your call to alert that person to your presence. Instead, call out in a clear, calm voice so they can easily ascertain your position.
2. Using a decoy.
- Never walk in to or out of the woods with an uncovered decoy. Today's turkey decoys are extremely lifelike and can easily fool even the most veteran hunters.
- Make sure that you have a clear line of vision out to 100 yards, setting up your decoy(s) along that line about 20 yards from where you will be sitting.
- Keep alert to the possibility of another hunter stalking your decoy before moving.
- Discretion is advised when using any call or decoy that imitates a gobbler. The sight or sound of a boss tom in the woods can attract more than your quarry.
- A veteran outdoorsman will always look for movement in the woods. Songbirds, crows, and squirrels aren't the only thing out there besides that gobbler you're working. Stay focused.
3. It's never a bad time to think about firearm 101.
- Treat it like it's loaded.
- Point it in a safe direction.
- Finger off of the trigger until you are ready to fire.
- Have you checked the barrel for obstructions before loading?
- That's not a 20 gauge shell from grouse season mixed in with your turkey loads, is it? Check gauge and caliber ammunition!
- Did a blue jay give out an alarm cry, or your bird locked up and got quiet? Identify your target and what's behind it; maybe another hunter is closing in on your bird.
- Eye and ear protection is the way to go.
- At the end of the day, lock up unloaded weapons and ammunition until it's time for the next hunt.
Spring turkey hunting marks one of the most anticipated seasons of the year. We've been thinking about that big gobbler since this time last year.
Don't let all that excitement get you off track. A safe and happy turkey hunt is always an exciting one. Actions speak louder than words. Double check your backpack and your firearm. You won't forget that diaphragm or that slate, so why forget the original rules of safety that we all grew up on?
It's never a bad time to review our basic turkey hunting methods. Now that the season is here, you'll be able to truly say, "I'm ready."