There are very few turkey hunting accidents which could not have been prevented had the guilty parties involved followed a few simple safety precautions. However, every turkey season far too many hunters are killed or injured because of unsafe actions on the part of other hunters.
Turkey hunters like to discuss and argue every point of the sport, safety included. However, the following few pointers will cover most safety precautions. However, always remember that a little common sense in the turkey woods goes a very long way.
1. Hunter Attitude
The most important factor affecting turkey hunting safety is the attitude of the individual hunter on any given hunting day. The most well trained hunter immediately becomes dangerous when his attitude is affected by any of many stimuli. The hurry up and kill out attitude clouds judgment which results in hasty shots, extra long shots and unwise shots at movement, colors and sounds. Competition among family members and friends is often the stimulus behind the hurry up attitude. Keep focused and leave work and worries at home.
2. Identify Your Target
Positively identify your target. Most shooting accidents while turkey hunting involves “mistaken for game” situations. The ultimate prevention is to make sure you clearly see a visible beard before pulling the trigger on a gobbler, or what you believe to be a gobbler. Even black stumps don’t grow beards.
3. Treat Your Gun As If It Were Loaded
Always treat your gun and everyone’s in your hunting party as if it were loaded. Every season hunters have their season ruined by someone discharging a shotgun which they thought had been unloaded. Hunting partners should quiz one another consistently about the status of their firearm.
4. Do Not Run With Gun In Hand
Do not run with a gun in hand, loaded or unloaded. Young hunters tend to run to gobbling birds, even before daylight. There are all manner of objects which can trip a hunter in the dark. A tumble is no good for the hunter or his firearm. Excited hunters sometimes run to toms they have just shot. Frequently they forget to put the safety on. With the safety switch on firearms may still discharge when involved in a fall.
5. Be Aware Of Other Hunters
Never assume you are the only hunter in the woods. Turkey hunting is a popular sport and rightfully so. Hunters are well trained these days about turkey behavior, camo and shooting. Capable hunters can move in your position with lethal stealth. Hunt defensively. Do not wear red, white or blue. Yell loudly at an approaching hunter. Never move or wave.
Practice these tips religiously and you and your hunting buddies will stand a magnified chance of returning home with only grand turkey hunting tales. To take your turkey hunting safety practices a bit further, enroll in a hunter safety course. Every hunter seems to have had some close calls. What are some of yours?