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Wild turkey move through this area

April 02, 2007|By BILL ANDERSON

This past week, I was driving near the Valley Mall and a big black bird went sailing over the car to land near the fence along I-81. It was a mature wild turkey gobbler. One can only guess what he was doing in that neighborhood. But it makes the point that wild turkeys are now found just about everywhere.

Seeing that bird reminded me that Maryland's spring gobbler season is nearly here. The season opens April 18 and will remain open through May 23. The bag limit is one per day, and two gobblers per season if you did not bag a turkey during the past fall season. The legal hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise until noon each day.

In our area, hunters will find birds just about everywhere. Areas with large wooded cover are usually the best, and there are good hunting opportunities on both private and public lands. Public hunting areas with good populations of birds include Indian Springs WMA near Clear Spring, Sideling Hill and Green Ridge.

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One tip to keep in mind is that the public hunting areas will receive less hunting pressure as the season progresses. By the last two weeks of the season you will often have very little competition -- even at the most popular public hunting grounds.

Hunters are also reminded that they may not use motorized or electronic turkey decoys. As a safety measure, any decoys powered by batteries or other sources of electricity are now prohibited for turkey hunting. Human or wind-powered decoys remain legal.

The process of hunting turkeys in the spring has very obvious risk factors. Turkeys have tremendous eyesight and turkey hunters are almost always in full camo. The hunters are also making sounds like a wild turkey to call in a gobbler and there are always a few who do not pay strict attention to the safety aspects of the sport.

Every spring various state and private organizations like the National Turkey Federation and the state agencies issue warnings to hunters about the potential problems and safety measure they recommend. The following is a short list of some of the safety measures:

If another hunter responds to your calling, make your position known by speaking to them in a loud, clear voice. Do not wave, and do not use a turkey call or whistle to alert them.

Eliminate the colors red, white and blue from your hunting clothing. These colors are found naturally on a wild gobbler in the spring.

When selecting a calling position, try to sit with your back against a tree that is as wide as your shoulders. Small trees won't hide movement of your hands when calling and might look like a turkey to a hunter approaching from your rear. Your back will also be completely protected.

Many experts now recommend that you wear a blaze orange vest while traveling through the woods locating turkeys. Another tip is that when you select a calling site, tie a blaze orange strip of cloth around a nearby tree to alert hunters in the area.

The most important rule is to always positively identify your target before pulling the trigger. You have to make sure your target is a turkey and that it is a turkey gobbler, with a legal beard.

Bill Anderson writes a weekley outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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