Turkey Hunting Safety
Kids Outdoor Outpost March 2019
As we roll in to turkey season, some of you may be out on your first gobbler hunt. Well, congratulations! You’ll now be part of the crew who gets up well before first light, grabs all this gear (turkey calls, turkey vest, camo pants, shirts, face mask, gloves, boots and shotgun) and heads out the door.
When was the last time you pulled the trigger on that shotgun you’re toting? When was the last time it was cleaned? Do you have the proper shotgun barrel choke in it? If you don’t know these answers, you’re not ready to go turkey hunting just yet.
Before handling any shotgun, always assume it’s loaded. With your finger off the trigger, point the muzzle of the gun in a safe direction, open the action and visually inspect the chamber to confirm that there is not a shell in it. I even like to run my small finger inside the action and barrel to make sure it’s clear. If you don’t know how to open the action of your shotgun, don’t handle it. If someone hands you a firearm, don’t accept it until the other person opens the action to confirm it’s clear. Then you do the same.
Many turkey hunters have been surprised to find a shotshell come flying out when they work that bolt or pump. Next, when traveling to your hunt, keep that firearm unloaded and in a case. If a conservation ranger stops you, he/she will appreciate your added measure of safety.
Now, let’s move onto the hunt itself. One of the prime methods to hunt these wily critters is by setting up a decoy or two, nestling into some cover with a sizeable tree at your back and then trying to use turkey calls to bring them in. If you are fortunate enough to have a strutter come into your setup, and he lights up with a gobble, you’ll be hooked. Even more so if you roll him!
Many setups fall short of taking a bird. These birds are smart, and you’ll be beaming for quite a while when you do take one. But let’s say you don’t. They see you move slightly, you cough, or something may just not seem right to them, and they move on.
Once you’re ready to move locations, check your shotgun. Make sure that it’s on safety. Don’t cross a creek, fence or any barrier with a loaded gun. Point the muzzle in a safe direction and eject the shells. Confirm it’s clear and reload on the other side, while confirming that the safety is back on. When the hunt is over, do the same thing.
Always confirm your target and what is behind it. Once you pull the trigger, the pellets are not coming back.
Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you’re ready to shoot. Use your safety at all times, until you’re actually ready to shoot at that big strutter.
Keep in mind that a safety is a mechanical device that could fail. Never point the gun at something until you’re ready to shoot.