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Common sense key to turkey hunters avoiding accidents

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“Hooks and Antlers” is hoping for an accident-free season for turkey hunters this May. In light of that, today’s column looks at safety in the turkey-hunting woods.

Most turkey-hunting accidents occur when one hunter mistakes another hunter for a turkey, or when a gun is mishandled and accidentally discharges causing harm to the handler or someone nearby. Such incidents are preventable, though, by using common sense, by following some guidelines for safe turkey hunting, and by practicing the basics of firearm safety.

Since red, white, and blue are the colors of spring gobblers, safe hunting calls for hunters to avoid wearing those colors. When setting up, hunters are advised to select a spot with good visibility and with back protection such as a tree that is wider than the shoulders and taller than the head. If another hunter approaches your set up, avoid making any motions and speak out in a loud voice to make the hunter aware of your presence.

Too, turkey hunters should always avoid the temptation to sneak up on a bird for a shot. For one thing, you may be moving in on another hunter’s calling and set up. From a practical perspective, a turkey would likely spot your movement before you got close enough for a shot anyway. When setting out a decoy, place it in an open area and where you would not be in the line of fire from an approaching hunter. Also, if other hunters may be in the area, it is generally advisable to avoid using gobbler calls as such sounds might attract other hunters toward you.

Common sense calls for spring hunters to always positively identify their target as a bearded turkey and to always avoid shooting at sound or movement. From both a safety and ethical perspective, avoid encroaching upon another hunter who is already in an area or who is already working a bird.

The basics of firearm safety hold true for all shooting and hunting situations, and the first fundamental is to always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Also, firearms should always be treated as if they are loaded. When shooting, it is critical that the shooter be sure of his target and what is in front of and beyond that accurately identified target. To prevent any accidental discharge, the trigger finger should be kept outside of the trigger guard until the individual is ready to shoot. Too, hunters are reminded to avoid running, jumping, or climbing with a loaded firearm.

HENDERSON SPRING CLASSIC

Sponsored by the Henderson Harbor Performing Arts Center, the always popular Henderson Harbor Spring Classic is set for May 16-19. The 2013 derby features a $1,000 first-place prize in the brown trout, northern pike, and walleye divisions and a $500 first-place prize in the pickerel and lake trout divisions. In addition, prizes will be awarded for second through fifth places in all divisions.

Interested individuals can register ($20 for adults and $5 for youths 16-and-under) and get a complete set of rules at Henchen Marina in Henderson Harbor, at Gander Mountain in Watertown, or BJ’s Bait Shop in Dexter. Weigh-ins will take place at West View Lodge from 2-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and from noon until 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

COYOTE SEMINAR

Gary Strader, who had a 40-year career as a predator control agent and who authored “Master Wolfer,” is presenting a coyote seminar at the St. Lawrence Valley Sportsmen’s Club at 3 p.m. May 18. Topics include calling, hunting, and trapping coyotes. The event features a drawing for a 3-day hunt for mountain lion, bobcats, and coyotes in New Mexico where Strader currently lives and practices his craft. For more information, call Ken Tynon at 393-5318.

ANGLERS’ ALLEY

In conjunction with the St. Lawrence River Bassmaster Elite tournament at Waddington this summer, organizers are putting together an expo titled “Tastes and Talents of the North Country.”

Part of that expo includes a section called Anglers’ Alley, and this section includes angling professionals, fishing guides, bait and tackle shops, and other fishing-related individuals or businesses. The folks at Bassmaster Elite, St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, and FISHCAP envision Anglers’ Alley as a one-stop spot for fishing information for visitors in hopes that those visitors will return to the area for future fishing ventures. Dates of the expo are August 9-11, and interested parties should contact Jo Ann Roberts at 386-4000.

Outdoors Calendar

Wednesday: Spring Turkey Season opens in New York State.

Saturday: Northern Pike and Walleye seasons open in New York State.

Saturday: St. Lawrence River Walleye Association hosts Opening Day Derby (384-3450).

Saturday: St. Lawrence Valley Sportsmen’s Club hosts annual Opening Day Walleye Derby.

May 14, 17, 18: Hunter Education Course at Adams Center Sportsman’s Club (Pre-register at 232-2942 from 9 a.m.- 9 p.m.).

May 16-19: Henderson Harbor Spring Classic Fishing Derby for trout, pike, walleye, and pickeral.

May 18: Gary Strader Coyote Seminar at SLVSC at 3 p.m. (393-5318).

May 25: Cape Vincent C of C hosts Annual Spring Fishing Derby (654-2481).

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