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Turkey

Turkey hunting is, by nature, a solitary exercise, but there still are precautions hunters can take to maintain the “social distancing” prescribed by health officials.

Hunting during the coronavirus pandemic might seem a bit odd, but the National Wild Turkey Federation has come up with some guidelines that might help.

The South Carolina-based organization is working with some of its industry partners to launch a campaign called #ResponsibleRecreation, aimed at encouraging outdoor recreation while adhering to coronavirus-related safety protocols.

The NWTF’s guidelines focus on four areas:

  • Avoiding lines and crowds at license outlets by purchasing licenses and tags online. This is easy for West Virginians, since most of the state’s license sales take place online, anyway. For those who might not know, licenses can be purchased at www.wvhunt.com.
  • Adhering to best practices for avoiding coronavirus. Those practices include maintaining a 6-foot buffer between you and the nearest individual, wiping down gas-pump nozzles before you use them, eating breakfast at home instead of getting it from a fast-food drive-thru, wearing a face mask when you’re in situations that force you to be close to people, and not touching your hunting buddy’s shotgun or turkey calls.
  • Knowing all the COVID-19 regulations in your state. An outdoors-related list can be found on the Division of Natural Resources’ website, www.wvdnr.gov, and a general list can be found on Gov. Jim Justice’s web page, www.governor.wv.gov.
  • Respecting the state’s game laws and adhering to safe hunting practices. Coronavirus-related safeguards become meaningless if hunters take unsafe shots or handle firearms carelessly. Basic turkey-hunting safety dictates that hunters properly identify their target as a bearded male turkey, and that they make sure there’s a proper backstop behind the bird to stop any pellets that miss their mark.

Hunters should never try to sneak up on a turkey, lest they be mistaken for one by another hunter. And they should never wear red, white or blue, the colors found on a tom turkey’s head.

Reach John McCoy at johnmccoy@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1231, or @GazMailOutdoors on Twitter.

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