The long-awaited turkey season is finally here. April 22-23 is the first chance for Hoosier turkey hunters to take to the woods, at least if you are under 18 years old. This weekend, young hunters will have the opportunity to get out and hunt this wary gamebird before the general season opens on April 26.

This is my favorite time of year, perhaps because I enjoy hunting turkeys more than just about any other outdoor activity out there. And since my son is 15, that means I can take him out this weekend. The excitement of heading into the spring turkey woods is almost more than we can bear!

I love turkey hunting. It makes no difference to me whether I am behind the gun. The act of working the bird and calling in a gobbler is all the reward I need to get the thrill of the hunt. So, in those years when Nicholas or I are in the situation where we are fortunate enough to be tagged out, we will jump at the chance to tag along with someone else.  

If you are a turkey hunter then you understand. But remember, safety is always number one. Although turkey hunting accidents are very rare, the possibility still exists.

Never assume you are in the woods alone, even if you are the only one with permission to be there. This is also when mushroom hunters and hikers will be out in full force, and while people should always abide by the rules and never trespass, well, that just is not always the case. Never shoot at noises in the brush. Be sure to always properly identify your target and what lies beyond it before ever pulling the trigger.

And, as already mentioned, don’t trespass.  Only stay on ground that you have permission to hunt. When hunting on public properties, you simply have no way of knowing who, if anyone, is around though.

If out hiking or mushroom hunting, do not wear any bright red, white or blue clothing. Honestly, I don’t know of any turkey hunters who would shoot unless they are certain of their target, but don’t take the chance.

Turkey fans are becoming all the rage these days and for good reason: they work. While not my first or “go-to” method of hunting, I certainly see no reason not to use one if you see fit. However, using a turkey fan on public land is not a smart move.

Full strut, or “Strutter” decoys, and taxidermy decoys also have become much more popular over the years and have duped many a bird due to their extreme realism. That realism also can draw other hunters in to your set-up as well. Remember that, as well as be sure to give any “life-like” looking turkeys a once-over before assuming they are the real thing.    

And yes, I do occasionally use a gobble call, and so might some other hunters. Again, I would stray away from it on public land. Besides the obvious safety concerns, I just don’t want to draw another hunter into my set-up.

Before season gets here, pattern your gun! You would be surprised how many people simply load their gun and head out. Be sure to shoot it, and become familiar with your limitations on how far you can reasonably shoot a turkey.

Lastly, have fun! This is the time of year that we turkey hunters wait in earnest for. With a dose of common sense and preparation, there is no reason you should not have an enjoyable turkey season.