An estimated 50,000 hunters will be in the timber this spring pursuing the illusive wild turkey and while the woods will not be crawling with hunters, there is a chance for an occasional encounter.
Hunters should practice defensive hunting techniques. Hunters should make a loud statement like “hey – hunter over here,” if they see someone coming into the same area. One loud noise shouldn’t scare a bird too much because loud noises happen in the woods. However, don’t make motion or throw something to get the other hunters attention.
“Turkey hunters are looking for movement,” said Jim Coffey, forest wildlife species technician for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “Don’t wave your hand or make a movement because a movement could be misconstrued.
“If you walk in on someone they’re probably hearing the same bird you hear, just turn and walk away. Find a different ridge to enjoy the morning.”
The timber will change a lot from early April to middle May reducing the distance hunters can see so it will be important that hunters continuously check their distance for their zone of fire.
“You can’t call the bullet back once your pull the trigger so it’s important to know your target and what’s beyond before taking the shot,” Coffey said. He often recommends setting out distance stick for reference points. This allows hunters to know exactly how far away a bird is and if it’s within the weapons range.
Hunters should also respect other hunters.
“They are out there trying to do what you are going to do. The competition is between turkey and hunter – not hunter and hunter,” Coffey said.
One way to avoid walking in on other hunters is to go later in the morning.
“Rather than try to get out in the woods for the first gobble, go out a little later, like around , you may have the area all to yourself,” he said.
· Avoid wearing patriotic colors – red, white and blue. These colors are also shared by gobblers.
· Bring a blaze orange game bag or turkey vest to use to carry the harvested bird out from the woods.
· Avoid using a gobble call.
· Using a hunting blind can be helpful if taking a young person on their first hunt, or for hunting companions to use.
· Make sure you have permission to be on the land and find out if anyone else has permission to the land and which season they will be hunting. Just because you had permission a few years ago, does not mean you have permission this year.