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A wild tom turkey fans out and displays his tail feathers in the Missouri wilderness. 

As the 2020 spring turkey season readies to begin in Missouri, some basic standards and neighborly manners come to mind. 

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation as myself, you have neighbors to the south who decided it also is time to remind everyone within earshot they own a .223 or acquired a new AR-15. I was more than a little bummed this past weekend when I heard these familiar sounds, and if you are a spring hunter, you might be more than a little put out, too.

No matter what is my closet, gun safe, under a bed, in my wife’s purse, a vehicle’s glove box or in a desk drawer in my office, I would be hard pressed to tell you the last time I went popping off rounds right before a deer or turkey season opener. 

Be that as it may, the unfortunate nature of the situation brought to mind a few things all outdoorsmen and hunters can appreciate.  

Ethics and etiquette 

While those of us who are believers in shooting sports and hunting, it likely goes without saying we would never hamper a season’s opening timeframe by deciding to host a range day when it would fall near or coincide with the opening of any hunting season. 

There’s absolutely no reason some recreational shooting cannot wait until 

Ethical and respectful outdoorsmen usually respect the sanctity of a long-practiced sport or tradition. Even if you do not hunt, it is likely your drive to burn some powder and throw a little brass could wait when the success of your neighbors’ annual hunt(s) can potentially be affected. 

You would not be throwing firecrackers into a stream on the opening weekend of trout season, would you? The likely answer here is ‘no,’ so why pick the weekend preceding one of Missouri’s most sacred seasonal hunting openers?

Safety

Hunting and shooting sports always deserve to be treated with safe practices and reverence. 

If you are target practicing, ear protection, safety glasses and proper range layouts all are necessities for sighting in a firearm or familiarizing yourself with a regular shot grouping. 

When out in the field or in the woods, blaze orange gear is an absolute must — as well as a Missouri law — and keeping your firearm’s barrel pointed in a safe direction always needs to be at the forefront of any hunter’s mind.  Whether hunting solo, with a partner or in a group, the direction any firearms is pointed should be any person’s top priority.

It also should go without mention, intoxicants of any kind and firearms should never be paired together. 

Hunting ground

Always be mindful of your area and surroundings. Watch for landmarks and utilize modern technology like global positioning satellite software or a basic hunting app on a smartphone. 

Many property owners are not fond of trespassers or hunters who would rather ask for forgiveness than permission. 

Use sound judgement and think — or ask — before you step over a fence or pass a posted sign, purple marker or pink flag out in the backwoods. 

Countless personal, legal and reputational woes can be avoided by knowing your hunting area and respecting boundaries. Simply knocking on a door and asking to scout or hunt is still a very viable option and an appreciated practice in the area, too.  

So, as the 2020 turkey season opens and spring gives way to a season of green growth, abundant wildlife and more seasonal weather conditions, please observe a few courtesies when and where necessary. Even if said efforts appear to go unacknowledged, they likely are appreciated by some. It almost certainly makes for better neighborly relationships, too. 

Be safe, be smart and here is to all of us hunters knocking down a gobbler with a trophy beard as we all respect, observe or participate in another spring turkey season in the Missouri Ozarks. 

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