Every fall, hunters head into Pennsylvania's forests and woodlots in pursuit of wild turkeys. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, its one of autumns greatest competitions as hunters try to call in their quarries. It's also a time when hunters really need to be in tune with their surroundings.
Staying alert and making sound shooting decisions will go a long way toward ensuring your safety and the safety of others in turkey season this fall, said Keith Snyder, Game Commission Hunter-Trapper Education Division chief. So, too, will always handling your sporting arm in a safe and responsible way.
The Game Commission has worked with the National Wild Turkey Federation and the agencys cadre of volunteer hunter-trapper education instructors over the past decade to reverse what was a growing number of turkey hunting-related shooting incidents. Today, Pennsylvania's woods are safer for turkey hunters. But hunters must remain vigilant. Paying attention and hunting safely ensure that your trip afield remains an enjoyable one.
Snyder said that the Game Commission and NWTF offer the following safety tips:
Positively identify your target! Be certain the bird is fully and plainly visible before pulling the trigger. Dont shoot at sounds or movement!
Never stalk a turkey! Movement or sounds you think are a turkey may be another hunter. Be patient, and let the bird come to you.
Protect your back! Select a large tree, rock or other natural barrier while calling. Hunt in open woods.
Shout STOP to alert approaching hunters! Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert others of your position.
Dress to be safe! Never wear red, white, blue or black clothing. These are the colors found on mature gobblers.
Cover up! Dont carry harvested birds in the open. Cover them with fluorescent orange or completely conceal from view in a game bag.
Be seen! Wear or display the required amount of fluorescent orange, particularly when moving.
In addition, while wearing orange is required for all fall turkey hunters while moving, hunters should consider wearing or posting orange at all times. For orange requirements, please see pages 68-69 of the 2011-12 Digest.
Harvest reporting available postcard, online or phone
Those participating in the fall turkey season will be able to file their mandatory harvest reports through the Pennsylvania Game Commissions online system, the toll-free Interactive Voice Response (IVR) reporting system telephone number, which is 1-855-PAHUNT1 (1-855-724-8681), or via postage-paid postcard.
To report a turkey harvest online, go to the Game Commissions website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on Report Your Harvest above the Quick Clicks box in the right-hand column, check Harvest Reporting, scroll down and click on the Start Here button at the bottom of the page, choose the method of validating license information. A series of options will appear for a hunter to report a harvest. After filling in the harvest information, click on the Continue button to review the report and then hit the Submit button to complete the report. Failing to hit the Submit button will result in a harvest report not being completed.
Hunters who use the toll-free number to submit a harvest report will receive a confirmation number, which they should write down and keep as proof of reporting. Those who report online should print or save a copy of their harvest report submission as proof of reporting.
Roe noted that hunters should have their Customer Identification Number (hunting license number) and field harvest tag information with them when they call. He also stressed callers should speak clearly and distinctly when reporting harvests, especially when providing the Wildlife Management Unit number and letter. Responses to all harvest questions are required.
Roe noted that hunters still have the option to file harvest report postcards, which are included as tear-out sheets in the current digest.
We certainly are encouraging hunters to use the online reporting system, which will ensure that their harvest is recorded, Roe said. Either way, the more important point is that all hunters who harvest a turkey report it to the agency.