The wild turkey is the largest upland game bird. Adult males are known as toms or gobblers; they usually weigh between 15 and 25 pounds. A male turkey also sports a beard that hangs down from the breast and can be 10 to 12 inches long. Female turkeys, known as hens, do not have beards. They usually weigh between 7 and 11 pounds.
Most turkey hunting accidents occur when shooters do not properly identify their targets. Common mistakes include a shooter who fires at movements, sounds or when stalking another hunter who is calling turkeys. These incidents would be greatly reduced if hunters would properly identify their targets first.
All hunters should follow these simple rules for safe turkey hunting:
- Always wear blaze orange when heading to and from your hunting site.
- Do not wear red, white, blue or black because a hunter could mistake part of your body for a turkey.
- Sit with your back against a tree at least as wide as your shoulders.
- Clearly mark all sides of your blind or hunting spot with blaze orange.
- Always identify your target as well as what’s before and beyond it.
- Do not shoot at sound.
- When another hunter approaches do not move. Shout out loudly to identify yourself.
- Never stalk a turkey. Call them to you. The sounds you hear might be another hunter.
- Do not place decoys where you may be in the line of fire of another hunter.
- Carry your turkey out of the woods in a bag or wrapped in blaze orange cloth.