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Hunt turkeys safely this spring

Spring turkey hunters are eager to get back in the woods again this year, but they should not be so eager they overlook safety.

The archery season opened March 25. On April 9, youth under age 16 may begin hunting turkeys with shotguns. Adults get the chance to hunt with shotguns starting April 16. The spring turkey season closes May 31.

“Hunting continues to be one of the safest recreational activities there is, but there are a few things to remember as you match wits with a smart turkey,” said Jackson Ellis, Nebraska Hunter Education coordinator with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Ellis has the following safety reminders for turkey hunters:

  • Always keep the shotgun’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction with the safety on. Keep your finger off the trigger until you have positively identified your target and are ready to fire.
  • Always identify your target before taking a shot and be sure to have a safe backdrop. Never shoot at sounds, movement, through thick brush or at sky-lined game.
  • Avoid wearing white, blue or red while turkey hunting as those colors often are displayed by male turkeys in the spring.
  • Be prepared for any condition, as weather can change quickly in the spring.
  • Ticks can be prevalent as the weather warms. Check yourself for ticks after a day afield, especially along waistbands and hair. Products such as permethrin, when used correctly, can keep ticks at bay.

“Be sure to get out in the field and enjoy this special time of year in pursuit of some of my favorite wild game,” Ellis said. “If you have the chance, take someone along and introduce them to the thrill of hunting gobbling turkeys.”

If you share your hunting passion with a beginner, be sure to enter the Take ’em Hunting challenge for a chance to win prizes. Learn more at outdoornebraska.gov/takeemhunting.

For those on the fence about hunting this spring, there are plenty of other reasons to get out in the field to pursue a bird:

  • Nebraska has wild turkeys, including the highly sought-after Merriam’s turkeys in the Pine Ridge, in every county.
  • Turkey hunters in Nebraska have reported high hunting success and satisfaction rates.
  • Resident spring turkey permits are $30, with youth permits only $8. Hunters are allowed up to three spring permits a year. The bag limit is one bird per permit.
  • More than 1.2 million acres of land are open to public hunting in the state, including lands in the Open Fields and Waters Program. Find a place to hunt in the Nebraska Public Access Atlas at gov/publicaccessatlas.

For more information on turkey hunting in Nebraska, including regulations and resources, visit outdoornebraska.gov/wildturkey.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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