Practice Safe Hunting
Posted: 04/12/2011

DES MOINES - The Iowa woodlands will be filled with activity as an estimated 40,000 turkey hunters head out in the predawn hours hoping for a chance to bag a crafty gobbler.

As turkey hunters are well aware, the excitement and anticipation can be intense as a gobbler comes in to the decoys. Megan Wisecup, recreational safety program supervisor with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said safety in the woods should be a priority for each hunter because once a hunter pulls the trigger they cannot call the shot back.

Wisecup encourages hunters to go through a mental checklist before pulling the trigger on a gobbler.

"You should have a checklist in your mind - does the turkey have a beard, identify the wings and the spurs on the legs. Look for what is around the turkey and what is behind it," she said. "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 wear blaze orange so they are recognizable to hunters. Our goal is to have injury free hunting seasons."

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

"My best 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 Season 1 is April 11 to 14, Season 2 is April 15 to 19, Season 3 is April 20 to 26, and Season 4 is April 27 to May 15.