When turkey hunting, there are several things to remember. It isn't as simple as walking out, spotting a wild turkey, and shooting it.
The Dos of Safe Turkey Hunting
DO carry your hunting license or permit on you at all times. Even private land may have those who request to see it when out hunting with large groups or on large parcels with multiple groups working the land at once.
DO wear high-vis equipment. While birds can see reds, pinks, and oranges, these colors will not lessen your likelihood of a successful hunt. They will, however, stop another hunter from accidentally shooting you because your camo is simply that good and they mistake you for a turkey.
DO make sure that you're in the correct area with GPS equipment. Whether this is simply your phone (make sure that you have a signal before hunting season arrives!) and a Google Maps or equivalent pulled up to assure where you are, or if you're using something more extravagant, assure that you're always in the right place. After all, people who own their own land may not appreciate you accidentally setting foot there. They may also not be very understanding, even if it's a mistake. You are carrying weapons out in the woods. Make sure that you're in a place where it's safe to do so.
DO only take 1-2 weapons out with you on your hunt OR be aware of what local laws are for your area and your hunting season. In many states, it is illegal to have more than 1-2 weapons with you during your hunt and you may be fined.
DO scope out your hunting area before the hunting season. You need to know if there are flood lands, signs of larger predators in the area, and the such. A prepared hunter is a safe hunter. Go out and find out as much as you can about the area you'll be hunting in before you've got your rifle with you.
DO know how to get help in the event that you need it. Though you won't be hauling in a large carcass (compared to a whitetail hunter, for instance), you may end up stuck in mud or even hurt. It's better to know which radio frequencies to use in the event of an emergency and where assistance can be found.
The Don’ts of Safe Turkey Hunting
DON'T think that you already know the laws simply because you've been hunting in one area for several years in a row. There are countless counties and states that have changed laws for this season and you need to, if nothing else, at least bother checking in with the ranger or the DNR in your area to make certain that everything is as it has been.
DON'T go out without telling anyone. This goes for all hunting. No matter if you're 10 years old or 100, it is not safe to go sneak off into the woods with no one knowing where you are. Even if you just slip and get hurt, people need to have an idea of where to find you.
DON'T take a bow that is underweight for the animal that you're hunting. Most turkey hunts require a 40- or 50-pound draw weight to make certain that the animal can be killed in one (good) hit. Check your local laws to make sure that you have a bow within range. On the flip side of this, DON'T take a very high-powered weapon to go shoot turkeys. When you kill a turkey, it is usually an easy kill with the bird taking a couple of tumbles and dropping dead. You don't need to blow a 10-foot hole through it and high-powered weapons may go on to kill other birds accidentally. It’s important to make sure you have the right gear.
DON'T assume that the bird is dead. We all know that turkeys have spurs, but have you ever been sliced open by them? Grab a bird that thinks it has a fighting chance and you'll find out how many stitches it takes to close your hands up after a turkey gets done with them. Always give the bird a nudge with your boot, the heel of your weapon, or, if you can find no other tool, a stick. A bird with closed eyes may be "sleeping" rather than dead and the beak can do as much damage as those spurs can. And it's no fun to get beat up with wings, either.
DON'T ignore the signs of trouble. If you hear the screams of another hunter, call it in. If you see a large predator, get out of that area safely and quickly without irritating it.
DON'T drive through dangerous areas, especially in flash flood zones (which should be marked, if unsure of what markings should look like, ask). And watch for venomous snakes, which are likely waking up in formerly snowy areas.
More Tips for Turkey Season
For more tips, read through some of the other articles we’ve written in preparation for turkey season: