Are You Legal, Willing or Able?
Turkeys and deer often like to share the same habitats, we all know that. And sometimes, both archery and firearms seasons coincide for both game species.
Before you draw your bow or pull that trigger, are you hunting legally? Are you willing to take a wild turkey when deer are your priority? Are you able to pull it off? These questions and others must be addressed before even considering it.
Upside: In some states, both archery turkey and deer opportunities are open at the same time. Some guys arrow birds from their treestand positions as a result. You may not want to do this if you're a traditional fall turkey hunting purist. Then again, maybe you aren't.
Downside: But are you hunting legally? Ethically? Broadhead restrictions need to be considered. Proper draw weight is also an issue. Finding common ground with your archery tackle is essential. Make sure the arrow and broadhead you hunt with, and also the draw weight, meet legal options for both turkey and deer. These sometimes vary.
Coinciding Deer and Turkey Gun Seasons
Upside: As with bow-only opportunities, some states offer gun hunts for turkey and deer at the same time. Challenge is, what might be okay for deer, say using a rifle, may not be fine for wild turkey hunting. Check your state's regulations. Sometimes it's not a problem. In some states it might be.
Downside: As an example, this year Maine's fall turkey hunting season runs through November 7, and into the deer firearms deal. This means whitetail hunters will be out on Oct. 28 (residents only), October 30 (everyone) through Nov. 4, then again on Nov. 6 and finally, Nov. 7, the last day of turkey season. There's no Sunday hunting. On those days rifle hunters are after deer, and they can't legally shoot a turkey with one. Shotgun-only areas will allow them a bit more wiggle room, but ammunition limitations for turkeys don't allow for slugs or buckshot.
Hunter Orange Requirements
Upside: In the deer hunting tradition, hunter orange is identified with rifle hunting for whitetails. In some states, like Pennsylvania, it's even a fall turkey hunting requirement (as rifles are legal for either-sex fall birds, though the deer and turkey gun seasons don't coincide).
Downside: Turkeys see color, especially if it moves. Deer hunting regulations, plus turkey, vary from state to state. Camouflage not only helps conceal us effectively, but it also gives us confidence. Blaze orange may be required though.
In the end, you may be able to hunt fall turkeys and deer at the same time. This is especially true for bowhunters. It gets trickier if you carry a firearm, though not in every state. Again, and as always, study your state regulations if yours has overlapping turkey and deer seasons. Always hunt legally and ethically.
Check out Realtree AP Blaze Camo.
"Deer hunters hunting over bait in states where it's illegal to hunt turkeys over bait" should be careful to abide by laws, Realtree.com's deer hunting editor Josh Honeycutt said.
Baiting laws can vary for species, and from state to state. Check your regulations, always.
No reason why you can't hunt deer in the early morning and late afternoon with one gun, and turkeys during the rest of the day with another. You can sleep on the couch during holidays, right?
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[Editor's note: This Realtree.com blog post was first published Oct. 25, 2016.]