Turkey Hunting: Staying Safe

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A morning in the spring woods can be one of the most enjoyable experiences a hunter can have.  However, if a hunter lets his guard down and an accident occurs, it can be something that they will never forgive themselves for-or can lead to a fatality.

As we read in Brian Proctor's article on 2/21/2012 titled "Expect the Unexpected," even veteran turkey hunters can have accidents if they let their guard down.  While Proctor's close call was something few people could have predicted, as he noted, it was a scare that could have been avoided had he not loaded his gun until the last possible moment.

Please make sure, for your friends and families' sake, that you follow the following safety rules.

-Always identify your target and know what is behind it.  Turkey hunting is an adrenaline-packed sport, but you must stay focused in the heat of the moment to make sure you are making a safe and ethical shot.

-Treat every gun as if it is loaded and be conscious of where you point it.  When you are hunting with others, you must make sure you do not point your gun barrel at other hunters.  Also be careful on leaning your gun on trees.  If your gun falls, it may go off and cause an accident.  The safest route may be to wait to load the gun until you are set up, and unload it before moving positions.

-Unload your gun when crossing creeks or fences.  Use the buddy system when crossing fences, where you hold your hunting partners’ gun while he crosses then fence, then he repays the favor.  It would be an ugly scene if your guns’ trigger got caught on a piece of barbed wire while you were crossing a fence, with your hunting companion standing nearby.

-Never walk and call at the same time.  On public land, other hunters may think a turkey is approaching and may make an ill-advised shot.  Always stop and look around before beginning a calling sequence.  You may even want to sit by a tree that is wider than your shoulders, which is a recommended practice upon setting up for good.

-Avoid the colors red, white, and blue, and make sure your decoys are covered up with blaze orange.  The last thing you want to do is create a moving mimic of a gobbler.  Use extreme caution when using decoys on public land. Also, use caution when using gobbler calls, as they may attract other hunters.

-If a hunter approaches your setup, speak to them in a normal voice, or let them pass by quietly.  Do not make a turkey vocalization or yell to them, as it may startle them and cause an accident. If you hunt public land, chances are that you will encounter other hunters, and it’s your responsibility to make sure such an encounter goes smoothly.

Chances are that you will never have a hunting accident, as the sport of turkey hunting is a very safe sport based on the total number of accidents each year relative to the numbers of hunters that take to the field.  However, it is not a sport to be reckless with.  Anytime you are in the woods with other hunters, there is always a slight chance of an accident, and even hunting by yourself can be dangerous if you are careless with your gun.  If you simply use your head at all times and follow the basic rules of turkey hunting safety, it can be a most enjoyable sport.
Wild Turkey Report Staff
Wild Turkey Report is the internet's new destination for information on the sport of turkey hunting. Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wildturkeyreport and on Twitter @wildturkeyreprt!
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February 22, 2012, 7:00 AM