WATERBURY, VT For many Vermont hunters, May first is almost as important as the opening of firearms deer season, and while turkey hunting-related shootings are rare, extra precautions are needed.
Wild turkeys are not the dummies popular myth makes them out to be. Their keen eyes can easily detect movement and out-of-place colors, making camouflage or drab colored clothing almost mandatory, at least when you are set-up. Unfortunately, camouflage has the same affect on other hunters as it has on the turkeys. Consequently, hunter safety experts warn that you never hunt turkeys by attempting to stalk them.
“Stalking is the common denominator in twenty-one out of the twenty-four turkey hunting-related shootings we have had in Vermont,” said Vermont Hunter Education Coordinator Chris Saunders. “Sometimes it’s the stalker who is mistaken for game. Sometimes it’s the other hunter.”
With the opening of spring turkey hunting season near, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department urges hunter to review the following safety tips:
Ø Never try to stalk a gobbling turkey. Your chances of getting close are poor, and you may be sneaking up on another hunter
Ø Stick with hen calls. A gobbler call is intended for special situations and might attract other hunters.
Ø Don’t be patriotic. Avoid red, white or blue. A tom turkey’s head has similar colors.
Ø Avoid unnecessary movement. This could alert turkeys and attract hunters.
Ø Don’t hide so well that you impair your field of vision.
Ø Wear hunter orange to and from your hunting location, and wrap your turkey in some hunter orange cloth for the hike back to the car.
Ø Always sit with your back against a tree trunk, big log or a boulder that is wider than your body. This protects you from being accidentally struck by pellets fired from behind you.
Ø If you use a decoy, place it on the far side of a tree trunk or a rock so you can see the birds approaching from all directions, but cannot actually see the decoy. This prevents you from being directly in the line of fire should another hunter mistakenly shoot at your decoy.
Ø Never shoot unless you’re absolutely sure of your target. Since only turkeys with beards are legal during the spring season, lack of positive identification could result in shooting an illegal bird, or worse, another hunter.
Ø Consider wearing hunter orange while moving from set-up to set-up. Take it off when you are in position.
Remember, only turkeys stalk turkeys! Keep hunting safe in Vermont and make it even safer.