Marines

Open season for Turkeys

7 Apr 2011 | Lance Cpl. Victor Barrera

If you are driving down U.S. 17 and you hear gunshots in the early morning hours near the ranges, don’t be alarmed, it is turkey hunting season.

With turkey hunting season in full effect, since April 9 through May 7, hunters aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and the surrounding installations are grabbing their shotguns and bows ready to get their hunting fix.

However, before anyone can head out into the woods and bag their very own fowl, there are certain requirements that must be fulfilled, and it is never too late to register. Hunting off-base requires individuals to follow state laws, hunting on base brings with it, additional set of rules that must also be followed.

A valid state big-game hunting and fishing permit are required as is a base hunting and fishing permit, both of which can be bought at the Marine Corps Annex.

“Then they bring their state permit and base hunting and fishing receipt to PT-3, it’s a log building on Parachute Tower Rd,” said Patrick O'Neal, a U.S. Conservation Law Enforcement Officer, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

Once at PT-3, service members only need their proof of vehicle insurance, Department of Defense vehicle decal and identification card and their state license.

Once all the required materials are obtained, service members take an open-book safety test. After the test is passed, the hunters finally receive their on-base hunting permit, which must be on them at all times while they are hunting.

Hunters are also advised to not wear color’s that stand out, like red, blue or white, because turkeys are not colorblind and will decrease the chances of nabbing a good kill.

“We also don’t allow any turkey calls, which also includes electronic turkey callers,” said O’Neal. “Just go out there and listen, I was walking one morning and you can hear them just fine.”

Since Camp Lejeune is a military installation and training is an everyday occurrence on base, many of the hunting locations are also in training areas. To prevent accidents from occurring, the base has a website link on their game warden’s page which can be found at lejeune.usmc.mil/gwarden/, which directs them to EFAWCTS.

EFAWCTS is an online directory showing hunters which ranges are available to them to hunt on.

“When the range clears an area they send the information to us and we show hunters where they are allowed to hunt,” said O’Neal. “The hunters need to register there before they can go hunt on base.”

Once registered, it is important that service members check out on the web site, showing that they are going to be hunting in that location. When they are done hunting for the day it is equally vital they check in.

“If they check out to go hunting on a training area that has been cleared for them, but fail to check in it can cause a lot of problems,” said O’Neal. “Range personnel can’t clear that area for training if we are showing that there is a hunter in that area that still hasn’t checked in. Then we have to go out there and look for them and if they’re already left and didn’t check in, their base hunting privileges can be revoked.”

Once all the paperwork has been properly completed and hunters are ready to put their skills to the test, there are some rules hunters must keep in mind.

“They can only be out from 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset,” said O’Neal. “And if they bag a harvest, they are only allowed one a day and two for the hunting season.”

Hunters are also required to bring their harvest to a check station and call 1-800-I-GOT-ONE, where they will be given an authorization number which should be written on their hunting permit. This is done to ensure that all hunters receive a maximum of two turkeys per hunting season.

“Turkey hunting is one of the hardest things to hunt,” said O’Neal. “But if done properly it can be greatly rewarding. The turkeys are here, we have more than 150,000 acres and hunters only need to follow procedures and they can hopefully get a good harvest, which is likely to be the best harvest since 1982. ”