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Be Careful in the Turkey Woods

Idaho's turkey hunters have an excellent safety record, but as fall turkey hunting grows, a few cautions are in order. The fall turkey seasons run from September 15-30. General hunts are offered in the Panhandle, Clearwater and four southeast hunting units while western Idaho has a controlled hunt. Unlike spring hunts, either sex may be hunted in the fall and the use of dogs is permitted. Fall hunting tactics differ considerably from spring hunting when hunters generally stay camouflaged in one spot and attempt to call breeding toms. Hunters pursue fall turkeys more actively. The basic safety rule is the same spring or fall: be absolutely sure of the target before the finger ever enters the trigger guard. Breaking up flocks by running into them and yelling is a common fall hunting tactic. Running with a loaded gun is dangerous as well as unnecessary. As in spring, hunters should never wear red, blue or white. Those are turkey colors and might lead another hunter to make a sad mistake. While waiting for turkeys to come in to a call after breaking up the flock, hunters should sit with their backs against a tree or rock large enough to cover them from the back completely. If another hunter approaches a stand, the stand hunter should speak loudly but hold still. Waving could be fatally misinterpreted. As Idaho's turkey hunters have grown from a few hundred to about 16,000 since the early 1980s, there have only been a small handful of accidents. Fish and Game would like to see a good record continued.