PANWTF Second Spring Turkey Hunting Safety Release
Pennsylvania Chapter Second Spring Turkey Hunting Safety Press Release Pennsylvania Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation Safety and Education Committee
By: Bob Eriksen, NWTF Regional Biologist
Turkey hunting safety has been a major priority of the Pennsylvania State Chapter since its inception more than thirty-five years ago. Many of our members are Hunter Trapper Education instructors, some chapters have held seminars and others have placed billboards about turkey hunting safety in strategic locations.
The state chapter has regularly issued press releases before the turkey hunting season urging hunters to be careful. A DVD entitled “Turkey Hunting Success and Safety” prepared by the NWTF was distributed to all Hunter Trapped Education instructors for use in every hunter education class.
Our “Turkey Hunting Success and Safety” brochure in the Game Law Digest and even sent the brochure out to hunters who purchased a second spring gobbler license. The chapter has supplied posters to the Game Commission on several occasions urging hunters to “Positively Identify Your Target” for distribution and posting on State Game Lands. More recently we placed an article on the risks and penalties for being involved in a turkey hunting related shooting incident in “Pennsylvania Game News”.
The Game Commission is working on a new “Successful Turkey Hunting” advanced HTE curriculum. A pilot session of this new curriculum was run last spring and currently supply trailers have been stocked and loaded for each Game Commission regional office. Training for the new course will be offered to HTE instructors soon.
Our chapter and the Game Commission have done much to promote turkey hunting safety and reduce the number of Turkey Hunting Related Shooting Incidents (HRSIs) but there is much more to do. Last spring (2010) there were eleven turkey hunting related shooting incidents in Pennsylvania. Nine of the incidents occurred in the first seven days of the season.
Regrettably one of the incidents was fatal and another caused the victim to lose his vision. One of the incidents was a self-inflicted injury caused by poor firearm handling. A second was the result of the victim being in the line of fire. The other nine incidents including the fatal incident and the incident that caused the victim to lose his sight were classified as Shot for Game.
Nine hunters were Shot for Game during a season for which regulations require the shooter to properly identify not only the target but the sex of the target. The shooter needs to verify that the bird he sees has a beard, has a red, white and blue head and is definitely a gobbler. Given the legal requirements for identifying the target it is hard to understand how these incidents occur. Nine of these HRSIs were avoidable and should never have happened. While eleven turkey hunting related shooting incidents is far too many, it is not unprecedented. Ten or more shooting incidents occurred in seven seasons between 1993 and 2010. The person who pulls the trigger is at fault when he or she fails to properly identify the target. There is no excuse for shooting another hunter in mistake for a gobbler.
The Pennsylvania Chapter reminds all turkey hunters to be safe this spring. Read and understand PGC Spring Gobbler Season Regulations listed on pages 35 of the 2010-2011 Hunting and Trapping Digest.
Here are turkey hunting safty tips to consider when you’re in the woods:
Be absolutely sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Leave the area immediately if you suspect there’s another hunter already working the same bird.
Never try to stalk or sneak up on a turkey. Stalking is ineffective and dangerous, and is against the law.
Select a spot in open timber rather than thick brush; wearing camouflage clothing and eliminating movement is more critical t success than hiding in thick cover.
Sit against a large tree truck, stump or blowdown that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your hear when calling turkeys.
Never wear bright colors especially not red, white, blue or black because these are the colors of a wild turkey gobbler.
If you see another hunter approaching remain still and speak loud, clear voice to announce your presence.
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 blind.
Make sure your decoy is not visible when you are transporting it. Place it in your vest or a carry bag and make sure its head is not sticking out.
Know, understand, practice and obey safe gun handling tactics.
Even though 2010 saw a higher number of HRSIs turkey hunting is still quite safe. After all more than 40,000 gobblers were harvested last spring. That means at least 40,000 shots were fired, not counting missed birds. All those rounds were fired and eleven hunters were injured.
That puts the issue in perspective. It does not diminish the serious nature of each and every one of those incidents it simply reminds us of just how rare shooting incidents are.
Remember though that at least nine of those shooting incidents need never have occurred. If only the shooters had taken the time to properly evaluate the situation and make absolutely sure of their target, nine hunters would not have had to endure the pain of being shot. One hunter would still have his vision and another would be alive.
As a turkey hunting do not be responsible for injuring or killing another human being.
Think Safety-Hunt Safely.