Each season thousands of hunters take to the woods to test their skills in pursuit of a wild turkey. A typical turkey hunter will use camouflage and calls to lure a gobbler into shooting range but sometimes the act of blending in and calling in can result in tragic shooting accidents. This is especially true for the more seasoned hunters that tend to take for granted basic safety precautions. The primary cause of most turkey hunting accidents is a mistake in identifying yourself to other hunters. You see movement, hear a sound and react. This can lead to severe injuries or even death to a fellow hunter.
While traditional camouflage alone is more likely to lead to injury by friendly fire, it is important that you be covered from head to toe. Wearing partial camouflage may leave just enough exposed to be mistaken for turkey parts. Always pair your camouflage with hunter reflective orange when headed into the woods, leaving the woods, or walking through the woods. In heavily wooded areas, these neon colored hunting vests are necessary to preventing accidental injuries. The bright color serves as a warning to fellow hunters, but doesn’t spoil your hunt since most wildlife hunted for sport are color blind. Reflective strips are also a useful safety addition for low-light conditions and can be stuck on any of your hunting gear.
- Eliminate red, white and blue from your hunting wardrobe as red is most associated with a gobbler’s head while blue represents the head of a hen.
- When leaving the woods via the most open route, wrap a reflective band around your bird’s body with the wings folded in to alert others.
- While sitting and waiting for a bird to come your way, put reflective hunter orange on a nearby tree.
Other Turkey Hunting Safety Tips:
- Alerting Another Hunter:
Do not alert a fellow hunter by waving your arms, moving or making turkey-like sounds. It is best to remain still and call out in a loud, clear voice.
When selecting your calling position, it is important to remember that the key to success and safety is eliminating movement. Choose a location that provides a background as wide as your shoulders and protects you from head to toe. The safest calling spot is in open-timber rather than thick brush.
- Hunting Strategy:
More than half of all turkey hunting accidents are a result of stalking. For this reason, NEVER stalk a wild turkey! The less you move, the safer and more effective you will be. Do not shoot until the entire turkey is visible and you can clearly determine whether it is a gobbler or a hen. Be aware if other birds, crows or turkeys grow silent, this may be a sign that another hunter is in your area.
With more people visiting the ER from playing organized team sports such as football, baseball and basketball, turkey hunting is easily one of the safest recreational past times in the world. Let’s keep it that way by following the basic hunter safety tips we are taught from the beginning!