Turkey hunting safety

Warm weather is upon us and the early spring green-up is slowly adding color to the woods again. Turkeys have been gobbling and turkey hunters are deep into the 2011 season.
Once your calling has been fine-tuned, safety is the next concern. According to Judd Brooke, president of Wildlife Mississippi, “Wildlife Mississippi is trying to raise awareness of turkey hunting safety because it is our view that one hunting fatality in Mississippi is too many.”
More accidents occur every year to turkey hunters than in any other kind of hunting. Many of these accidents could be prevented if hunters would obey the Ten Commandments of Firearm Handling – something which every person who has taken a hunter education course should know and practice. While we’re on that subject, it’s not a bad idea to enroll in a hunter education course, just for a refresher (take along a youngster or hunting buddy). You’re never too old to learn about safety.
“Because the hunter must blend in with the surroundings, turkey hunters do not wear hunter orange,” said Brooke. Most turkey hunting accidents occur when hunters are mistaken for a turkey. However, there are several things a hunter can do to prevent such a tragedy from happening:
(1) There are only two kinds of safe turkey hunting: calling the birds in, or standing and waiting. Never try stalking.
(2) Be sure you are completely camouflaged; however, when moving to and from a hunting site, always wear hunter orange.
(3) Pick your hunting spot with a good backrest. A tree or embankment wide enough to completely cover your outline from the rear will protect you from being shot from behind.
(4) If another hunter comes near, call out in a calm voice. Don’t shout, whistle, stand or wave and especially don’t give a turkey call. Keep your distance from other hunters.
(5) Use only hen decoys. Place the decoy so you are safe from shots by other hunters. Position yourself either to the front or rear of the decoy. If the decoy is shot from the sides (the most likely angle) you will not be in the line of fire.
(6) Always practice safe gun handling.
(7) Always carry a harvested turkey out of the woods in a hunter-orange game bag.
The Wildlife Mississippi President offered one final reminder, “When you are in the woods this spring, make every effort not to throw trash on the ground. If you see trash in the woods or on the ground at the parking area, pick it up, put it in your pocket or throw it in the back of the truck.”
Have a safe and successful remainder of the turkey season.