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Hunting turkeys this spring? Play it safe

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After a long, cold winter, turkey season has arrived and there should be plenty of birds for good hunting this spring.

Indiana’s youth turkey weekend is April 20-21, and the regular season opens midweek on Wednesday, April 24 and will continue through May 12. Hunters may take one bearded or male turkey.

Safety is a key factor in turkey hunting as with any gun or bow sport, but is especially important in turkey hunting as camouflage is a key component. It’s also interesting that people who emphasize safety also are effective hunters.

The National Wild Turkey Federation echos the importance of safety when you’re in the woods mimicking the sounds of wild turkeys. The organization offers these tips to consider when you’re in the woods:

• Leave the area if you suspect there’s another hunter already working the same bird.

• Resist the urge to stalk turkey sounds. It is nearly impossible to sneak up on a turkey. It is also unethical and could lead to an accident.

• Select a spot that is in open timber rather than thick brush. Wearing camouflage clothing and eliminating movement are more critical to success than hiding in heavy cover.

• Sit against a large stump, blow-down, tree trunk or rock that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head when calling wild turkeys.

• Never wear bright colors, especially not red, white, blue or black, because these are the colors of a wild turkey gobbler. Watch out for red, white or blue on your socks, T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, hats, bandannas, etc. Wear dark undershirts and socks, and pants long enough to be tucked into boots.

• Remain still and speak in a loud, clear voice to announce your presence to other hunters if necessary. 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 camouflage blind or netting.

• Ensure your decoy is not visible when you are transporting it. Stash the decoy in your vest and make sure the head is not sticking out. If you harvest a wild turkey during your hunting trip, you also should cover the bird’s head and body when carrying it out from your hunting spot.

• Put your gun’s safety on and approach the downed bird with your firearm pointed in a safe direction after firing. Never run with a firearm.

I’m an old guy who hates getting up well before daylight for turkey hunting, but there is something wonderful about getting set up for a turkey hunt and listening to and watching the woods come alive on a spring morning. And what I liked best, when hunting in Missouri, was listening to the whippoorwills. I don’t hear them often these days in Indiana.

Patoka Triathlon

Registration is under way for the Patoka Lake Triathlon taking place at Patoka Lake beach Aug. 24.

Participants in the triathlon will swim 500 yards in the lake, bike 12.8 miles along paved roads within the property, and run 5K along groomed gravel roads and a paved bike trail. 

All proceeds from this event will go to support Patoka’s non-releasable raptors; a red-tailed hawk and eastern screech owl.

It also may save the life of a bald eagle by acquiring a non-releasable eagle for Patoka’s raptor education program.

To register or for more information, visit patokatriathlon.dnr.in. gov or contact the lake office.

Contact writer Phil Junker by email at outdoorscribe@yahoo. com.