Spring turkey hunting one of safest outdoor activities, but caution always wise
PRATT -- Each year, a number of spring turkey hunting accidents occur throughout the United States. While Kansas has an excellent turkey hunting safety record, this should not be taken for granted. There are a few simple steps that can be taken to make this spring turkey hunt a safe one.

Keeping one simple fact in mind should help prevent accidents: be sure of your target before you shoot. Only bearded turkeys may be taken in the spring, so positive identification is the key. In addition, take only clear shots, never walk through the woods calling, and never gobble. Another good tip is to wear hunter orange while moving.

Other safety measures that can help ensure a safe turkey hunt include the following:

  • if you wear camouflage, cover your entire body, including face and hands, and never wear the colors red, white or blue, which appear on a turkey's head;
  • always set up to call in a fairly open area with good visibility in every direction, with your back against a tree or other object that is wider than your shoulders;
  • when hunting with companions, be sure of everyone's location;
  • attempting to sneak up on a turkey can lead to accidents;
  • never assume that you are alone in the woods, even if you are the only one with permission to hunt the land;
  • assume that every sound you hear is made by another hunter;
  • you must see the whole bird to determine whether it is safe and legal to shoot; and
  • if you see another hunter approaching, remain still and yell or whistle. Never wave, use a turkey call, or stand up.

This spring, turkey season for youth and disabled hunters will run concurrently with the archery-only season, April 1-8. The regular season (all permits valid and shotguns or bows allowed) opens April 9 and runs through May 31. Permits are available at Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) offices and license vendors throughout the state. For more information about all aspects of turkey hunting in Kansas, visit the KDWP website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us.