News Releases

March 30, 2010

VT Fish & Wildlife Offers Turkey Hunting Safety Tips

WATERBURY, VT –Vermont’s 15,000 turkey hunters need to start patterning their turkey guns, checking their calls and thinking about turkey hunting safety.

Saturday, May 1st is almost as important as the opening of firearms deer season. It marks the start of Vermont’s month long spring turkey hunting season, and while turkey hunting is safe, occasional shooting incidents occur.

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 does on the turkeys. Last year underscored this. Three of the state’s five hunting-related shootings in 2009 occurred during the spring turkey season, including one fatality. Two of those involved hunters mistaking other hunters as turkeys. The other was due to careless gun handling when a hunter leaned a loaded shotgun against a tree.

“Almost all of our turkey hunting-related shootings are caused by hunters who don’t positively identify the target before they pull the trigger,” said Hunter Education Coordinator Chris Saunders, “and the victim is usually another hunter, often a friend, who is trying to stalk a turkey call.”

With the opening of spring turkey hunting season near, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department urges hunters to review the following safety tips:

-- Never try to stalk a gobbling turkey. Your chances of getting close are poor, and you may be sneaking up on another hunter.

-- Avoid hunting the same gobbler as your hunting companion or other hunters. Pick a different area to hunt.

-- Stick with hen calls. A gobbler call is intended for special situations and might attract other hunters.

-- Don’t be patriotic. Avoid red, white or blue. A tom turkey’s head has similar colors.

-- Avoid unnecessary movement. This could alert turkeys and attract hunters.

-- Don’t hide so well that you impair your field of vision

-- Wrap your turkey in some blaze orange cloth 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.

-- 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.

-- 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.

-- Consider wearing hunter orange while moving from set-up to set-up. Take it off when you are in position.

Source: Agency of Natural Resources
Last Updated at: March 30, 2010 14:00:58