Top Ten Suggestions for a Safe Turkey Hunt


The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation wishes you a safe and enjoyable hunt and hopes you'll find the following tips about safe turkey hunting, ethical behavior and hunter awareness useful when you're in the field.
1) Hunt preparation - Proper handling of firearms is essential for a safe hunt. You can develop this important skill by attending an Oklahoma Hunter Education course. All ages can learn something new at one of these programs. For information about course dates, contact the state game warden in your county or call 405/521-4650.

2) Proper Clothing - Hunters should avoid wearing colors associated with wild turkeys such as red, black, white and blue. Wearing red, white and blue, which are colors of a turkey's head, or black, which is their body color, may confuse other hunters. Wearing blaze orange during the spring wild turkey season is an option worth considering. During the fall, when deer primitive firearms season overlaps with fall wild turkey season, hunters must conspicuously wear either a head covering or an outer garment above the waistline, consisting of daylight fluorescent orange color.

3) Safety First - Following these five simple safety rules listed below will help assure a safe hunt:
  • Always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction.
  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  • Be sure of your target and what is beyond.
  • Know your hunting area and its safe zone of fire.
  • If hunting with companions, know their locations

4) Hunter Awareness - Most hunters, when hearing a gobbler, try to get as close as possible before calling. However, other hunters may be calling or working the same bird. Don't compete with other hunters. If you're unsure about another hunter's position, stop calling and reassess the situation.

5) Where to Call - When you are ready to start hunting or calling, sit at the base of a tree which has a trunk wider than your body. This way you can see an approaching hunter and you are protected from the rear. Use this position to call so you can see in all directions for turkeys or hunters.

6) Using a Decoy – Safety-conscious hunters are very careful when using a decoy. If you decide to use one, place it so you will be out of the line of fire. Put a tree between you and the decoy. If you are in the open, place the decoy so it faces directly toward or away from you and can be seen by approaching hunters from all directions. Always carry decoys in a bag or backpack going to and from hunting sites.

7) Calling - Your turkey calls may sound like a real turkey to other hunters, so be alert. Don't use calls that imitate a gobbler. Experienced turkey hunters believe it's dangerous and unnecessary. Also, electronic turkey calls are illegal in Oklahoma.

8) Other Hunters - When another hunter approaches you, don't wave your hand as a signal. This movement could trigger a shot. Instead, shout to the other person since there isn't much chance a hunter will mistake your voice.

9) Identifying Your Target - The most critical moment of any turkey hunt is when you decide to pull the trigger. Be absolutely sure the bird you see is a legal turkey. In the 'gobbler only' season, this means you must see the beard as a positive means of identifying the bird. Never shoot at noise, movement or color.

10) Leaving the Woods - Once you have bagged your turkey or have decided to quit hunting for the day, unload your firearm. If you're an annual license/permit holder and have shot a turkey, you are required to complete the Record of Game section on the back of the license form. All persons, including lifetime license holders, taking a turkey must immediately upon harvesting a bird, securely attach their name and hunting license number to either leg of the harvested bird. Then wrap the bird in camouflage or blaze orange before carrying it through the woods. Walking through the woods wearing a blaze orange vest using the most visible route to your vehicle will also help protect you.

Help Stop Poaching!

Call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-522-8039 to anonymously report violators of Oklahoma's game or fish laws. You may be able to collect a cash reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of poachers.

Hunter Education Program

Through the Hunter Education Program, thousands of hunters are instructed annually in hunter ethics, basic game management principles and hunter safety practices.