Turkey Season - Dylan Smith

Hunting safely during turkey season is easy for hunters who follow tips issued by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

Vermont’s spring youth turkey hunting weekend is April 29 and 30, and the regular turkey season is May 1 through 31. While Vermont’s spring turkey seasons are safe (Vermont had only one turkey hunting incident in the last seven 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 sure of the target and what is beyond it. Look for a beard as only turkeys with beards are legal during the spring season. When in doubt, 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 whenever shooting a firearm or bow.
• Never stalk a gobbling turkey.
• 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 field of vision is impaired.
• Wrap turkeys in blaze orange for the hike back to the vehicle.
• Always sit with backs against a tree trunk, big log or boulder that is wider than a body. This protects hunters from being accidentally struck by pellets fired from behind.
• Place decoys on the far side of a tree trunk or a rock. This prevents hunters from being directly in the line of fire should another hunter mistakenly shoot at decoys.
• Wear hunter orange while moving from setup to setup. Take it off when in position.

“Have fun!” said Meier. “Spring turkey season is one of the best times to get outside and interact with wildlife.”

VTF&W photo by V. Calcagni
Dylan Smith of Northfield with a nice gobbler he got in 2016.