OUT: Western Colorado wild turkey anything but BIRDS OF PLAY

Spring means different things to many people, and to hunters it means a time to stretch the legs and the hunting skills seeking one of America’s wariest game birds.

Colorado’s wild turkey hunting season runs April 11 to May 24 on the Western Slope. Other parts of the state have various starting dates.

A complete list of turkey seasons and regulations is available on the Division of Wildlife Web sites, wildlife.state.co.us.

One way to get started is to hang out with experienced turkey hunters, and you’ll have that opportunity on March 24 when the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Western Slope Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation offer a seminar titled “Turkey Hunting 101” (see box).

The other chance to participate is a youth-only turkey hunt April 25–26 on private land in the Meeker area.

Thanks to the generosity of some private landowners willing to open their land to the public,

DOW District Wildlife Manager Bailey Franklin of Meeker and a handful of volunteers will take three youths under the age of 18 on this private-land hunt. Interested youths can apply by sending a letter of interest and a short essay (500 words maximum) about why hunting is important for wildlife to Bailey at P.O. Box 1181, Meeker 81641.

All applicants must have a valid Colorado hunter education card.

More information is available from the DOW Meeker Area Office at 878-6090.

While hunting accidents remain infrequent, turkey hunting is the second-leading category for hunting accidents, according to the Division of Wildlife.

And most of the accidents involve one hunter shooting another.

The National Wild Turkey Federation, one of the nation’s largest conservation organization with more than 500,000 members, preaches safe hunting and says the most important aspect of a safe hunt is identifying the target.

“Hunters must be sure of their target before firing,” said Tom Hughes, National Wild Turkey Federation hunter safety liaison. “It’s their responsibility to keep themselves safe, as well as to ensure they don’t make a mistake that injures someone else.”

From 2001 to 2004, 68 percent of all turkey hunting incidents were caused by failure to identify the target according to International Hunter Education Association statistics.

“Hunters should only shoot when they have a clear field of view, the gobbler is within shotgun range and the entire body of the bird is clearly visible,” Hughes said. “Following these simple rules will help you avoid making a mistake you’ll never forget.”

• Set up against a stump, tree or rock that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head.

• Never wear or carry the colors red, white, blue or black when turkey hunting. This includes handkerchiefs, socks and underwear. These are the colors of a wild turkey gobbler.

• Set up in open timber rather than thick brush. Eliminating movement is the key to success, not concealment.

• Be discreet when imitating the sound of a gobbling turkey.

• Be alert. A good woodsman can always detect movement in the forest by watching other game or listening for the alarm cries of blue jays, crows, squirrels or woodpeckers. Be a defensive hunter.

• Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence. Remain still and call out in a loud, clear voice to announce your presence and be sure the other hunter acknowledges your presence before moving.


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