|Spring turkey season means it’s time for a safety refresher
Spring means changing landscape and colors that the successful turkey hunter must keep in mind when taking aim at the first bird on the first hunt of the new year, says Tim Lawhern, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hunter education administrator.
Lawhern, also the president of the International Hunter Education Association and a DNR Conservation Warden, says there are two areas where Wisconsin turkey hunters have found themselves in trouble in the past.
Wisconsin DNR records show roughly 80 percent of accidents during turkey season involve hunters mistaking other hunters for game or hunters failing to positively identify their target. The only legal turkey in the spring is a male or bearded turkey.
“If a hunter doesn’t see a beard on the turkey, don’t shoot,” Lawhern said. “In nearly all incidents where a person is shot by a turkey hunter, the shooter later said they ‘thought’ they were shooting at a turkey.”
Your favorite hunting region changes its looks, lighting, colors and vegetation as the seasons change. Couple that changing landscape with the excitement of the season, Lawhern notes, and problems can and have occurred.
“Imagination with a strong desire to see a turkey can produce a momentary image that isn’t real,” Lawhern said. “This moment, while short, lasts long enough for some to pull the trigger.”
Hunters in a party of two or more are best served by agreeing to abide by their joint plan for the day’s hunt.
“Problems occur when birds are not spotted and the hunters decide to separate,” Lawhern said of the scenario when accidents have happened during the last decade. “Soon, one hunter is stalking either the decoy or call of the other. The best way to avoid this situation is to have each hunter stick to a plan that is understood by all in that hunting party.”
Lawhern also said turkey hunters – as is the case with all hunters – must practice these four basic safety guidelines when handling their firearms. “Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it. And, keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Tim Lawhern, DNR Hunter Education Administrator – (608) 266-1317