By Rod Slings
Founder/CEO of Hunting and Shooting Related Consultants LLC
Former Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Supervisor
We have learned, over many years, what keeps turkey hunters safe. As a hunter, you become responsible for your safety and those that you may, or may NOT know, are hunting around you.
Identify Your Target
Turkey hunting-related shooting incidents typically occur when a person does not completely identify his or her target. Before pulling the trigger, you must totally identify the bird by confirming that it is, in fact, a real turkey - with a beard, spurs and all the color configurations of a tom turkey. Never shoot at just the fan of a turkey; make sure you process all the confirming characteristics of a wild turkey before you shoot. Remember, you can never call that shot back. You must also know what is beyond your target.
Know Your Colors
By concealing yourself in camouflage, you blend into your surroundings. Never wear patriotic colors while turkey hunting. Red, white, blue and black are the fundamental colors that only look good on a tom turkey, not on turkey hunters.
Watch the Walk
Be very careful transporting your decoys and your harvested bird in the woods. Concealing your harvest will help keep you safe when your hunt is over and you are on the way out of the woods headed home. Hunters have been injured while carrying or setting their turkey down to rest. Also, don’t think that you are alone just because you are on private property or you are the only one that has permission to be there. Always hunt defensively - there is no guarantee someone will not walk in or stalk your calls.
Plan a Safe Set Up
Ideally, you should set up your decoys facing you 15 to 20 yards away from your set up. Place your decoy or decoys in clear view. The decoy will help draw in a bird, but will also cause a distraction away from you. That distance allows you to see and enjoy the strutting and display as your calling efforts are rewarded.
Pick a tree to sit against that is wider than your shoulders and provides you a clear view of four to five times that distance.
If you are hunting from a blind, place it so you also have good visibility of your surroundings. This also allows you a safe zone in case another hunter, or even a trespasser, encroaches upon the land you are hunting. Stalking a turkey increases the chance of interrupting another hunter, or worse. If you see someone is stalking the sounds of your calls, your decoy or just walking near you, make sure you do not make any sudden movements. You do need to say, “HELLO, HUNTER! I am here!”
Evaluate Your Own Actions Before Others Do
The manufacturers of today’s turkey decoys are making them more realistic than ever. Therefore the placement, use, and your safety are all very real issues to consider. There are looming debates over what constitutes the safe use of certain decoys, when it comes to ethically harvesting a bird. As a safety conscious and ethical hunter, you should do everything possible to keep yourself and others safe. Evaluate your actions - not only as a safe hunter, but also as an ethical hunter that practices fair chase with the animals you hunt. There are all types of ways to simply kill wildlife; a true, ethical, hunter makes sure he or she does everything possible to keep a level playing field -not to mention, to keep from giving themselves or other hunters a bad name. Please consider all of this as a hunter in today’s world, when cameras and social media allow all hunters, non-hunters, and anti-hunters to judge your actions that can affect all of us.
By following these fundamental rules of safety, we have been able to greatly reduce the number of turkey hunting incidents nationwide. These proven rules of safety have been based on good investigations of past hunting incidents. Turkey hunting is very popular and has become very safe and an exciting activity, thanks to these simple rules.
Turkey hunting can create amazing POSITIVE memories in the Great Outdoors!
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The 2015 dates for the Iowa Turkey Seasons:
2015 Spring Turkey, Resident only
April 4 - 12, 2015 Youth Season
April 13 - 16, 2015 Season 1
April 17 - 21, 2015 Season 2
April 22 - 28, 2015 Season 3
April 29 - May 17, 2015 Season 4
April 13 - May 17, 2015