by Kirk Woundy
Public service takes many forms, and today we're happy to put safety first by passing along some much-needed and oft-forgotten advice about springtime turkey-huntin'.
This comes to us from the Edgefield, South Carolina-based National Wild Turkey Federation, a staple news source for altweeklies everywhere.
Noting that "a safe turkey hunter is much like a safe driver — you must be defensive minded," the federation has chosen to share 10 tips that those in the woods should consider. Here they are (bolded emphasis ours).
Leave the area if you suspect there's another hunter already working the same bird.
Resist the urge to stalk turkey sounds. It is nearly impossible to sneak up on a turkey. It is also unethical and could lead to an accident.
Select a spot that is in open timber rather than thick brush: wearing camouflage clothing and eliminating movement is more critical to success than hiding in heavy cover.
Sit against a large stump, blow-down, tree trunk or rock that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head when calling wild turkeys.
Never wear bright colors, especially not red, white, blue or black because these are the colors of a wild turkey gobbler. Watch out for red, white or blue on your socks, t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, hats, bandannas, etc. Wear dark undershirts and socks, and pants long enough to be tucked into boots.
Remain still and speak in a loud, clear voice to announce your presence to other hunters if necessary. Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence.
Keep your hands and head camouflaged when calling.
Maintain a clear field of view when using a camouflage blind or netting.
Ensure your decoy is not visible when you are transporting it. Stash the decoy in your vest and make sure the head is not sticking out.
Put your gun's safety on and approach the downed bird with your firearm pointed in a safe direction after firing. Never run with a firearm.