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Monday, April 2, 2012

Safe turkey tactics also can produce more birds

Photo courtesy NWTF
Sitting against a large stump or tree trunk that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head when calling turkeys will protect you from hunters approaching from behind.

By Phil Junker

Turkey hunting requires preparation. Wild turkeys are much different from the farm raised relatives. They are much smarter.
The more a hunter learns about wild turkeys and their habits, hunting equipment, and where the birds are located, the more likely he or she is to be successful. Scouting for birds before opening morning is important.
Preparation includes learning safety techniques, which may not only make the hunter safer, but also more likely to bag a bird.
Turkey season kicks off in Kentucky April 7-8 with youth weekend. The opening day of the regular spring hunt is April 14 and the last day is May 6. Hunters may take one bearded turkey per day and a total of two during the season. A spring turkey license is $30 for residents and $60 for nonresidents.
Indiana’s spring wild turkey season begins April 21-22 with a youth hunt weekend. The regular season starts April 25 and continues through May 13. A turkey license is $25 for residents and $120 for nonresidents.
Safe turkey hunting tactics are well worth learning, according to Tom Hughes, assistant vice president of the National Wild Turkey Federation. He says the safety tactics also are tactics, which will help a hunter get that gobbler into range for a shot and a place on the dinner table.
 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 10 tips from the NWTF to consider when you'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. It is also unethical and could lead to an accident.
Select a spot that is in open timber rather than thick brush: wearing camouflage clothing and eliminating movement is more critical to success than hiding in heavy cover.
Sit against a large stump, blow-down, tree trunk or rock that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head when calling wild turkeys.
Never wear bright colors, especially not red, white, blue or black because these are the colors of a wild turkey gobbler. Watch out for red, white or blue on your socks, t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, hats, bandannas, etc. Wear dark undershirts and socks, and pants long enough to be tucked into boots.
Remain still and speak in a loud, clear voice to announce your presence 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.
Ensure your decoy is not visible when you are transporting it. Stash the decoy in your vest and make sure the head is not sticking out. If you harvest a wild turkey during your hunting trip, you also should cover the bird's head and body when carrying it out from your hunting spot.
Put your gun's safety on and approach the downed bird with your firearm pointed in a safe direction after firing. Never run with a firearm.
Spring turkey hunting is a wonderful experience. Of course, every hunter wants to harvest a tom, but even if you are unsuccessful, watching the sunrise and listening to the sounds of spring as it becomes alive in the morning, is a wonderful reward itself.

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