Sports

Joe Myers: Some safety tips for turkey hunting

Turkey season got under way in Georgia last weekend, with hunters going after a population of about 335,000 birds in the state. Hunters can bag one gobbler a day and can take three before the season ends May 15.

Alabama hunters got a jump on their colleagues, starting their season March 15. Also, hunters can take one per day up to a total of five between the fall and spring seasons. However, the Alabama turkey season ends April 30.

Before we get any further into turkey season, it'd be best to go over some turkey hunting safety tips that can be used by hunters of all ages and experience levels.

The No. 1 safety tip is to always, always, always be aware of your target and what's around it.

"Hunters should be 110 percent certain of their target, what is in front of and beyond it before pulling the trigger and should never shoot at sound or movement," said Walter Lane, WRD hunter development program manager, in a recent press release. "Turkey hunters have to utilize their firearms safety knowledge and remember ways to keep themselves and others safe while in the woods."

Here are some other tips to keep in mind as you're looking to bag that big gobbler:

Never wear red, white, blue or black clothing while turkey hunting. Red is the color most hunters look for when distinguishing a tom's head from a hen's blue-colored head, but at times it may appear white or blue. Male turkey feathers covering most of the body are black in appearance. A hunter's camouflage should be used to cover everything, including the hunter's face, hands and weapon.

Select a calling position that provides at least a shoulder-width background, such as the base of a tree and be sure that at least a 180-degree range is visible.

Don't stalk a gobbling turkey. Due to their keen eyesight and hearing, the chances of getting close are slim to none.

When you're using a turkey call, the sound and motion may attract the interest of other hunters. Do not move, wave or make turkey-like sounds to alert another hunter to your presence. Instead, identify yourself in a loud voice.

Be careful when carrying a harvested turkey from the woods. Don't allow the wings to hang loosely or the head to be displayed in a way that another hunter may think it's a live bird. If possible, conceal the turkey in a blaze orange garment or other material.

Although it's not required, you might want to wear blaze orange when moving between a vehicle and a hunting site. Wearing blaze orange on your upper body makes it easier for you to be identified by other hunters.

Turkey hunters must possess a valid hunting license and a big game license to legally hunt turkeys in Georgia. If hunting on a Wildlife Management Area, hunters must also possess a WMA license. Sportsmen and women must always obtain permission from a landowner before hunting on private land. Only male turkeys may be harvested and to get a license, you can buy it online or find a list of retail license vendors at www.georgiawildlife.com/recreational-licenses or buy it by phone at 1-800-366-2661.

Callaway Gardens report

The Mountain Creek Lake water temperature is currently about 66 degrees and last week, Ryan Wakenigg caught a 10-pound largemouth bass out of the lake. Also, the crappie fishing has been outstanding with catches up to 3.6 pounds, shellcrackers close to 1-pound are being caught and bream are starting to bed as well.

Guests can self-guide or reserve a guided bass and fly fishing trips for a half or full day. Kayak and canoe rentals are available on Mountain Creek Lake as well. For more information or to schedule a guided trip, call 706-663-5142 or e-mail fishing@callawaygardens.com.

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