Hunt safely for turkeys and mushrooms

The Kansas Spring Turkey Season opened April 12 and is in full swing through May 31. Reports from the field indicate that birds are plentiful and responding to hunters’ calls. However, the tradition of spring turkey hunting, where the hunter hides in full camouflage while imitating the call of a hen, requires special safety consideration.

Turkey hunting can be excellent on state wildlife areas, as well as the nearly 250,000 acres of private land  enrolled in the Spring Walk-In Hunting Access Program. Hunters on public land must always assume other hunters are there, too. Although hunting in Kansas is safer than playing golf, when you consider injuries per 100,000 participants, one tragic hunting-related accident is too many. A few simple precautions can help ensure you or another hunter don’t become a statistic.

First, never wear the colors black, blue or red, the colors prominent on a tom turkey as it displays for a hen. Set up to call with a good view in front and a tree wider than your shoulders at your back. A shoulder-width tree to lean against will protect you if another hunter stalks in from behind. If you see another hunter, whistle or call out; never wave or move, which could draw fire. Always assume a sound you hear is another hunter, and act accordingly. Many hunters will wear a fluorescent orange hat or vest when they walk out after hunting, or if they are successful, they may wrap an orange vest around their bird as they carry it out. Hunting-related accidents during the spring turkey season are rare, but let’s keep it that way.

Another kind of hunter in the woods this time of year is hunting morel mushrooms, and reports from the field indicate that hunters are finding them now. It is legal to pick morels on state and federal public hunting land as long as they are kept for personal consumption. Mushrooms collected on state and federal lands may not be sold commercially. Spring Walk-In Hunting Access land is leased for hunting access only. Morels found incidentally by turkey hunters on WIHA lands may be collected for personal use. Mushroom hunters should assume they will encounter turkey hunters on public lands, but potential conflict can be minimized by hunting mushrooms mid-day. Most turkey hunters prefer to be in the woods at daybreak and are often calling it a day by mid-morning.