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Increasing Foliage Reduces Visibility for Turkey Hunters

Iowa’s timber can change quickly in the spring as turkey hunters are well aware. That perfect hunting spot with a large panoramic view of the woodland through leafless trees during first season has been reduced significantly by the third season as trees and plants are busy trading their buds for leaves.

This changing landscape provides hunters added camouflage from the sharp eyed gobbler, and requires them to be more diligent with their safety checks before firing a shot.

“You should have a checklist in your mind – does the turkey have a beard, what color is the head - male birds, even jakes, tend to have a brightly colored red, white, and blue head and neck areas that tend to stand out. Look for what is around the turkey and what is behind it,” said Megan Wisecup, hunter education administrator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  “In the past when we investigated turkey hunting incidents, the shooter always says they saw a turkey, but not that they saw the beard.  Identify the target before taking the shot.”

Turkey hunters need to keep in mind that spring is also a popular time for other outdoor users to be in the woods.  Mushroom hunters will soon be searching for delicious morels.  Anglers may be hiking to their favorite fishing hole.  Not to mention other turkey hunters heading to their favorite spots.

“With all the activity that takes place in the spring, I can’t stress enough how important it is to identify the target,” Wisecup said.  “We are encouraging mushroom hunters, hikers and anyone heading in to the woods during spring turkey season to avoid wearing patriotic colors – red, white and blue – as these colors are shared by gobblers. Instead, wear blaze orange to be recognizable to hunters.”

She said hunters can do a number of things to prevent an incident.

  •         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.
  •         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.
  •         If another hunter approaches you while you are hunting, say “stop” or “hello” in a clear voice to alert that person of your presence.  Do not make any movements.

“My advice to all hunters is to plan your hunt, and hunt your plan,” Wisecup said.  “The hunt plan will identify where the hunter will be at all times, and if others are involved, it will identify the role of each hunter and their locations at all times.  Leave the plan and where you are hunting on the fridge or with someone so someone will know where you are and when you will return.”

Iowa’s spring turkey seasons continue with Season 3 from April 27-May 3 and Season 4 from May 4-22.  

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