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Safe Turkey Hunting

Basic rules for avoiding accidents

  • Identify a turkey’s head and beard before aiming.
  • Never shoot at sound or movement. Assume it is another hunter until you can clearly see a turkey’s head or beard.
  • Wear hunter orange when walking through the woods.
  • Use hunter orange to identify your hunting location.
  • Wrap a bagged turkey or decoy in hunter orange when transporting it.
  • Dress defensively. Never wear red, white, blue or black while hunting turkey.
  • Be sure of your target and what lies beyond.
  • Never follow the sound of a gobbling turkey or attempt to sneak up on turkeys. Always call turkeys to you.
  • Sit against a large tree or other natural barrier to shield yourself from hunters approaching from the rear.
  • Shout "STOP" when another hunter approaches. Don't move, wave, whistle, or make turkey calls to get their attention.

Accidentally shoot another hunter? Render assistance immediately!

If you are involved in a firearms-related hunting accident, the law requires that you identify yourself and render assistance. Failure to do so is a Class A misdemeanor.

Stay aware of other hunters, especially if they're in your line of fire.

There were two fatal and six nonfatal firearms-related hunting incidents during the 2014 spring turkey season. As you will see, simple carelessness and failure to positively identify game can result in tragedy. Don't make the same mistakes these hunters made.

  • April 13 — Three hunters were set up over decoys and calling at the edge of private property. A second hunting party crept up on the decoys, thinking they were real turkeys. One of the hunters fired, and pellets hit everyone in the first hunting party.
  • April 22 — A hunter took a drink from a clear water bottle containing a red liquid. Another hunter mistook the red color for the head of a gobbler and shot, hitting the first hunter in the hands, arms, torso, and head.
  • April 24 — Two friends were hunting together and heard a turkey gobbling. When they were unable to call the turkey to them, one of the hunters decided to walk around the gobbler and attempt to push it toward his friend. As he was walking back, his friend mistook him for a turkey and shot him.
  • April 24 — Two friends were hunting near each other. When a gobbler walked between them, one of the hunters shot. He missed the turkey but hit his friend.
  • May 4 — While turkey hunting, a grandfather shot his grandson. Both hunters declined to be interviewed, but investigating officers found evidence to suggest that the shooter and victim were approximately 32 yards from each other.
  • May 5 — An 81-year-old man was found dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound during the third week of spring turkey season. Evidence indicates the man’s shotgun fired while he was trying to cross a creek.
  • May 5 — A man was hunting near a large lake when he heard a boat. A short time later, he spotted what he thought was a strutting turkey on the bank of the lake. He shot and killed another man who had parked his boat and was climbing the bank to hunt.
  • May 7 — A hunter took off her camouflage jacket, exposing a black shirt underneath. Another hunter apparently mistook the black shirt for a turkey and shot, hitting the victim in the lower leg and foot. The shooter fled the scene.

Key Messages: 

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.

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