In Vermont, May 1st is almost as important as the opening of the firearms deer season, and while spring turkey hunting-related shootings are rare (last year’s season was incident-free) precautions are needed. Camouflage or drab colored clothing is almost mandatory to outwit a keen sighted gobbler. Unfortunately, camouflage has the same affect on other hunters as it has on the turkeys.
“With a handful of exceptions, all of our incidents have been caused by hunters who didn’t positively identify the target before they pulled the trigger,” said Chris Saunders, Hunter Education Coordinator. “And the victim is usually another hunter, often a friend, trying to stalk a turkey call.”
With the opening of spring turkey hunting season near, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department urges hunters to consider these safety tips:
- Never stalk a gobbling turkey. Your chances of getting close are poor, and you may be sneaking up on another hunter.
- Avoid red, white, blue and black in clothing and equipment. A tom turkey’s head has similar colors.
- Stick with hen calls. A gobbler call might draw in other hunters.
- Avoid unnecessary movement. This alerts turkeys and attracts hunters.
- Don’t hide so well that you impair your field of vision
- Wrap your turkey in blaze orange for the hike back to the car.
- 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.
- Place decoys on the far side of a tree trunk or a rock. This prevents you from being directly in the line of fire should another hunter mistakenly shoot at your decoy.
- 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.
- Wear hunter orange while moving from set-up to set-up. Take it off when you are in position.
Hunt smart. Hunt safe.