Hunt Safely – Turkey Season is on

It can be hard to locate 3-year old gobblers, but when you do, successful hunters know that getting up at 3:30 in the morning, in the dark, was worth every effort. Joe Forma Photo

The message from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is a message that applies to turkey hunters across the country as turkey seasons open and run for about a month in multiple states at this time of year – Hunt Safely.

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.

For more information on KDWPT, please visit www.kdwpt.state.ks.us. 

More about the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

KDWPT employs approximately 460 full-time employees in five divisions: Executive Services , Administrative Services , Fisheries and Wildlife , Law Enforcement , Parks and Tourism.

Department History:

  • 1905 – Fish and game laws were organized under the Kansas Fish and Game Department and implementation of a state law requiring a license to hunt.
  • 1911 – The State Fish and Game Department was placed under the supervision of the University of Kansas Board of Regents
  • 1925 – The Fish and Game Department was reorganized as the Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission with three board members appointed by the Governor.
  • 1927 – Commission was reorganized and was given approval to organize a warden service. Fishing licenses required of men 18-70.
  • 1939 – Commission’s three-member board was abolished by the legislature and replaced by a six-member bipartisan commission appointed by the Governor
  • 1943 – Legislature gives the commission full authority to set seasons and dates
  • 1955 – The legislature and Gov. Fred Hall create the State Park and Resources Authority.
  • 1960 – First Kansas boating laws enacted
  • 1987 – Gov. Mike Hayden signs executive order merging the State Park and Resources Authority and Fish and Game Commission to create the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
  • 2011 – Gov. Sam Brownback signs executive order moving the Division of Tourism from the Department of Commerce to the newly renamed Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism