MONTPELIER — Hunting safely during turkey season is easy if you follow tips issued by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
Vermont’s spring youth turkey hunting weekend is April 23-24, and the regular turkey season is May 1-31. While Vermont’s spring turkey seasons are safe, with Vermont having no incidents in the last six years, precautions are needed to ensure they stay that way.
Camouflage or drab colored clothing is almost mandatory to outwit a keen-sighted gobbler. Unfortunately, camouflage often makes it just as hard for hunters to spot one another as it does for turkeys.
“Almost all of the incidents during turkey season have been caused by hunters who didn’t positively identify the target before they pulled the trigger,” said Nicole Meier, with Vermont’s hunter education program. “And the person they mistake for a turkey is 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 shoot unless you’re absolutely sure of your target and what is beyond it. Look for a beard as only turkeys with beards are legal during the spring season. If you’re not sure, skip the shot. Lack of positive identification could result in shooting an illegal bird, or worse, another hunter. Be sure to have a good backstop any time you shoot a firearm or bow.
• 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.
• Wear hunter orange while moving from set-up to set-up. Take it off when you are in position.
“Have fun.” said Meier. “Spring turkey season is one of the best times to get outside and interact with wildlife.”