TWRA offers safety tips for popular turkey hunting season - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

TWRA offers safety tips for popular turkey hunting season

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Turkey hunting season is again underway in Middle Tennessee. It's one of the most popular hunting seasons of the year, but can also be one of the most dangerous.

"There is no rash of accidents, but anytime we have one, it's bad," said Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokesman Doug Markham.

Earlier this month, Monteagle Police Chief Vernon McNeese accidentally shot his friend, Stanley Whitman, while hunting wild turkeys.

Whitman later died from his injuries.

TWRA officials say the most common hunting-related incidents occur from hunters making judgment mistakes.

"The turkey has a beard coming out of its chest like a horse tail. If you don't see that, don't shoot at the bird," Markham said. "There is no game in the world out there worth hurting or killing anybody."

Last Friday, Robertson County resident Arthur Kenney III accidentally shot his father-in-law, Charles Hersh, while hunting wild turkeys near his Glenn Raven Road home.

Hersh was taken by medical helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he was treated and released.

Wildlife resources officers said hunters should make sure their weapons are unloaded when they are not preparing to pull the trigger. They should also point the muzzle to the ground when loading and unloading the firearm, establish a zone of fire and never drink or use drugs when hunting.

Most incidents occur within 10 feet of the muzzle, so wildlife officers encourage hunters to unload their firearms, especially when crossing a creek or fence.

"There are tens of thousands of turkey hunters this time of year and millions of hours spent in the woods, and sometimes accidents happen," Markham said.

Since hunters during wild turkey season don't wear bright orange, that makes it even more dangerous.

"These turkeys have excellent eye site, so these hunters wear drab color or camouflage. They are in the woods, and they are blending in with the forest," Markham said.

TWRA offers a free hunters' safety course. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1969, in Tennessee is required to take the course before he or she is allowed to hunt in the state.

The wild turkey hunting season ends in May.

For more information, visit http://www.state.tn.us/twra/.

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