Turkey Hunter Interactions

Nick_CO

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Dec 20, 2018
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196
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Southern Colorado
Yesterday was the opener for Colorado Turkey and I was successful in getting a Tom within the first hour of daylight which we all know never happens. My wife was with me this time and we also had an interesting experience with another hunter that could have ended dangerously.

We parked at the end of a dead end road and planned to continue on past the no motor vehicles sign where there is a trail that follows an old road grade. When we parked we saw a truck with a tent set up about 100 feet away with a light on in the tent so my thought was that it was likely another hunter getting ready. I like giving people space but this is where we had planned to hunt and I also wasn't absolutely positive it was a hunter so we stuck with our plan. About 1/2 mile from the truck it was starting to get light out and we were already hearing turkeys nearby. We got closer and set up on the edge of a larger clearing and when it was light enough to shoot I started calling. We quickly realized there were quite a lot of Turkeys in this group with several gobbles and lots of clucking from hens as well. I started calling and the group came a little closer and there were over 20 in total. The turkeys were so active with each other though that I couldn't get a Tom to leave the real hens and come to my calls but they were all in front of us moving around in the scrub oak. The Toms were all gobbling and fanning, it was an impressive sight and cool experience. About 20 minutes into this and we heard clucking coming from behind us that didn't sound very convincing and I immediately knew it was another hunter. The calls got closer and closer and eventually I look back and see the guy creeping closer so I turned and waved my hand at him so he would know my wife and I were there. At this point he's maybe 15 or 20 yards from us and there is nothing between he and I but my wife was about 15 yards away from me - but slightly closer to him - hidden in some scrub oak. Neither my wife or I wear anything camo, just earth toned clothes so we are fairly visible compared to most turkey hunters. He's now just standing there looking right at me and so I continue waving more emphatically. I wanted him to acknowledge me just so I knew that he knew we were there for safety reasons. I was not trying to wave him out of the area or be rude about it, it was the type of wave where if you saw your friends from across a large room at a party or gathering and you were trying to get their attention. He then creeps forward another 10 yards or so, posts up against a ponderosa and starts calling, with my wife only 10 or so yards from him. At this point I stood up and in my regular loud voice told my wife to get up and follow me out of there. I didn't feel comfortable with the situation at all now. Not wanting to walk any closer to him we just quickly walked the opposite direction toward where the turkeys went. We get about 75 yards away from the guy and crest a small ridge when we see all the turkeys out in the open. I see two Toms off to the side all fanned out so I quickly rose my shotgun up and shot one. The rest all flew down the mountain. At this point the other hunter couldn't not know someone was there, but about 2 minutes after I shot the turkey we hear him still calling away. All is well that ends well I suppose, but I think I now see why people say turkey hunting is when most accidental shootings happen. I can't convince myself that the guy didn't see me and my gut tell me he did and was just ignoring me so he could try to get on the same turkeys first. If he truly didn't see me, then I question his eyesight enough so that it worries me he had a gun in his hands. Maybe he had turkey fever so bad that his mind ignored me kinda like the exercise where you watch the video of kids playing basketball and a person in a gorilla suit walks through the game but you don't see it because you're busy counting the number of passes. He was likely the guy in the tent we parked next to and was possibly pissed that we were there, who knows? We never saw him again and we had the turkey back home, butchered, vacuum packed, and in the freezer before 11am which was a first for me on opening morning. In hindsight what I should have done was disregard my hunter instinct to not scare game away and just yelled out to the guy really loudly and forced him to acknowledge me. I think I may wear an orange hat turkey hunting now though, at the very least maybe it would keep me from having to shout at someone to alert them to my location. Stay safe out there everyone! Screenshot_20220410-062656.png
 

Dougfirtree

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Adirondacks
Yikes. Glad it turned out ok. I am perpetually flabbergasted by how unaware most people are in the woods. Over the years, I've had many experiences where I wave at another hunter, think they see me, casually walk over to them to check in, crunching leaves the whole time, only to give them a heart attack when they finally realize I'm there, when I'm 5 yards away. And usually I'm wearing orange.
 

Scott85

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Nov 22, 2018
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I think a lot of people lack woodsmanship and wouldn’t see a hand waving in front of their face. I’ve waved, whistled at people in the woods and the only thing that have made them stop in me yelling at them.
I think a blaze orange handkerchief is something every turkey hunter should carry.
 

Nick_CO

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Dec 20, 2018
Messages
196
Location
Southern Colorado
Thanks, all in all it was a great morning with a lot of action both good and bad. I like the orange handkerchief idea.
 

np307

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Jun 25, 2018
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647
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North Carolina
Simple conversation beforehand wouldve solved this. Hunting there when there was already somebody there is pretty frowned upon in turkey hunting for reasons like this. Next time talk to the other hunter and coordinate at the very least.
 

kansasdad

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Jul 30, 2011
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Wichita
Congratulations on your first hour bird!

I always keep an orange vest in the pack for just such occasions, or have a reversible hat with orange on the inside.

I have felt forced to call out on an unawares turkey hunter on more than one occasion. Each time I held as still as a statue and called out "camouflaged hunter in the woods" to get their attention. Every time they would (eventually) freeze, and once I saw that their weapon was not pointing my way, I again spoke telling them where I was located based on their body position. Only when I was reasonably certain that their brain comprehended that there was another human in close proximity would I move/wave the orange to help them know where I was.

This has happened a couple of times on busy public areas, and one time on private (with a trespasser coming onto the property as he assumed that last year's permission was in perpetuity).

One other safety consideration I use when hunting turkeys....I always set up any decoy so that I can feel safe that anyone trying a ninja sneak on a decoy will not shoot at the decoy and catch me beyond the decoy with their shot.
 

Nick_CO

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Dec 20, 2018
Messages
196
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Southern Colorado
Simple conversation beforehand wouldve solved this. Hunting there when there was already somebody there is pretty frowned upon in turkey hunting for reasons like this. Next time talk to the other hunter and coordinate at the very least.
How would that conversation have gone? I approach somebody's tent in the dark at 5 am and yell out asking if they are turkey hunting and if so we are too? I'm not sure how to coordinate with someone that chose to camp at the end of a well maintained road in a popular area within thousands of acres of National Forest. I know my story was long but I explained that the camper may not have even been hunting (how would we know) or even the same person that we encountered in the woods, there were other trucks parked along the road should I have coordinated with them as well? I would absolutely have that conversation with someone in the daylight if they were out and about in their camp, but in the dark no thanks...
 

np307

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Jun 25, 2018
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647
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North Carolina
How would that conversation have gone? I approach somebody's tent in the dark at 5 am and yell out asking if they are turkey hunting and if so we are too? I'm not sure how to coordinate with someone that chose to camp at the end of a well maintained road in a popular area within thousands of acres of National Forest. I know my story was long but I explained that the camper may not have even been hunting (how would we know) or even the same person that we encountered in the woods, there were other trucks parked along the road should I have coordinated with them as well? I would absolutely have that conversation with someone in the daylight if they were out and about in their camp, but in the dark no thanks...
The acreage involved makes a big difference, along with the amount of other vehicles. To me, it sounded like there was only one other vehicle (the person camping) and you walked past them. Walking past someone or in on someone is a huge breach of protocol. In most of the turkey woods down here, I would wager its more dangerous to walk in on somebody than to have the conversation in the dark. I've walked up to plenty of trucks in the dark at public land gates and had conversations about where we were going. I also never walk in on somebody on a smaller parcel if they beat me to the gate.
 

Islander

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Lowcountry, SC
In a game where you all have deadly weapons, spooking the target would have zero consideration if this was me. Abort and go straight to safety mode. I would have spoken out in no uncertain terms, "Hey, you got two hunters here! Can you see me?"

I know there is etiquette to consider, but being between a man with a gun and the thing he plans to shoot means full on end of hunt and making absolutely sure he knows you are there.

Congratulations, and glad nobody was injured.
 

winmag

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Jan 3, 2018
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Colorado
I’ve had some interactions like this where they obviously see me but don’t care, unfortunately. Almost every time I’ve MADE them talk me to, it ended with them saying something to the effect of “it’s public land you can go F€%# yourself”. Unfortunately equal access brings out the true asshole in some people.

I’ve had decent conversations at trailheads before hunting begins; you’re going this way so I’ll go that way. Now if there is a truck at my trailhead when I park for turkey hunting I just keep driving. More people get shot hunting turkeys than any other species. And the rise of the use of TSS (which I do use myself) makes shotguns much more lethal to humans as well as turkeys.
 

winmag

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Colorado
A note on safety when this does happen.

Do not wave at the other hunter to make them aware of your presence. Do not call at them to make them look at you. Speak loudly or yell in a regular human voice and make them acknowledge you. If someone is within 100 yards of me I want them to know it’s a problem; 100 yards is too close with TSS in shotguns now. A spooked bird it better than losing an eye or worse.

I personally know two people that have been shot while turkey hunting. One the other hunter saw his white face and thought it was a turkeys head; my friend lost an eye. One he waved at the other hunter and the other hunter shot him in his shoulder and arm; he now carries about a dozen lead #4’s everywhere he goes.
 

bowhuntmontana

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Feb 17, 2011
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Utah, after 30+yrs in MT
Glad things turned out safe, and congrats on the bird.

I hunt public, and opening day usually has a lot of people on this particular piece. In years past, I got up much earlier and to a spot I like a few hours before others, then sit and wait for daylight. Every time, I have at least two parties walk in on me just before, or right at shooting light. I call out, know I have their attention, then stand up and wave. They move off, but often they are in the wide open and it screws up the hunt. I also hate the anxiety of knowing someone is probably going to walk in on me, potentially spook the birds, cause a dangerous situation, etc.

No more opening days for me with turkeys. Two days into the season, 90% of the people are not there and the hunting is much more comfortable for me.
 

Nick_CO

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Dec 20, 2018
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Southern Colorado
In hindsight waiving doesn't seem like a great idea at all so that's not going to happen again, I'll for sure be yelling loudly next time. Like @Islander suggested, it's too risky with armed people that close. Lesson learned there.

I hope to not sound like a discourteous hunter when I say that I parked near someone's camp. I honestly try not to do that and you would have to know this area to realize that it's more complicated. The end of that road is the most logical and commonly used access point for a massive roadless area and so to camp there assuming that nobody else will park nearby is not a realistic expectation. As it were, when we got back to our vehicle there were other trucks parked there too, we were just the first to arrive.
 

wllm

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Boston
I personally know two people that have been shot while turkey hunting. One the other hunter saw his white face and thought it was a turkeys head; my friend lost an eye. One he waved at the other hunter and the other hunter shot him in his shoulder and arm; he now carries about a dozen lead #4’s everywhere he goes.
I know this happens all the time, but I just don’t get how this happens.

I’ve walked into peoples setups before… always because they were on the trail, but only once in 10 years of hunting have I gotten to within 50 yards of someone and not noticed until they said something. ( dude in a tree stand in CO, elk hunting… was not expecting it)

How do you not notice folks? How do you mistake a person for any game animal?
 

Nick_CO

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Southern Colorado
I know this happens all the time, but I just don’t get how this happens.

I’ve walked into peoples setups before… always because they were on the trail, but only once in 10 years of hunting have I gotten to within 50 yards of someone and not noticed until they said something. ( dude in a tree stand in CO, elk hunting… was not expecting it)

How do you not notice folks? How do you mistake a person for any game animal?
It definitely seems like a such an implausible scenario but after yesterday I can say that some people are either incredibly unobservant or just plain unpredictable.
 

wllm

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It definitely seems like a such an implausible scenario but after yesterday I can say that some people are either incredibly unobservant or just plain unpredictable.
My 2 cents is he scouted the birds, you beat him to “his spot” and he was just refusing to acknowledge you and was going to whack any bird you called in…

It’s public land I would have done and have done the exact same thing in Colorado.

None of us are trying to step on each other’s toes but it happens.
 

Nick_CO

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Southern Colorado
My 2 cents is he scouted the birds, you beat him to “his spot” and he was just refusing to acknowledge you and was going to whack any bird you called in…

It’s public land I would have done and have done the exact same thing in Colorado.

None of us are trying to step on each other’s toes but it happens.
That's also the theory that I think makes the most sense. If I were in his shoes, there's just no way I don't see me and/or my wife.
 

RyGuy

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Mar 10, 2022
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Fort Collins, Colorado
Congrats on the bird! And glad you all made it out safe. I totally understand your situation and don’t blame you for what happened. Only you can know all of the factors that went into you hunting there that morning. You don’t know if someone is hunting or not, you don’t know if they’re camping and then plan on driving somewhere else to hunt, you don’t know if they’re going to walk to the same clearing as you or any of the infinite directions other than where you went. I know people say you should’ve hunted somewhere else, but this is public land we’re talking about. I feel like if I never hunted somewhere that another car was parked, I’d spend most of my hunting days just driving around from parking lot to parking lot and never actually hunting.
Unfortunately, running into other hunters is just part of public land hunting.
Can’t blame him either for hunting the turkeys he heard. I’m sure he was hoping your parked car meant that you had headed in a different direction than him.
At the same time, it’s hard to understand how he didn’t see you at such close range and back off…
Either very rude or oblivious or both
 
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