by Ben Sobieck, T&TH online editor
Hunting the suburbs means exchanging open spaces for tight ones. It also means there are more human eyes than turkey eyes. This creates two critical issues that must be answered before stepping into the woods:
1) How will I hunt safely?
2) How will neighbors react when they look outside and see a hunter in camo with a shotgun?
In this post, I'll address the first question. The second question I'll tackle in the next installment of Suburban Turkey Hunting Tips.
With my hunting scenario - a 5-acre plot of woods near a swamp north of Minneapolis - the first problem is solved with this answer: Don't shoot near houses.
Seems obvious, but it deserves some thought. For starters, shooting "near" a house is different than "at" a house. Shooting "at" a house is a black-and-white issue. But what constitutes "near" a house?
The law has something to say about this. In Minnesota, the regulations are worded this way:
"On another person’s private land or a public right-of-way, a person may not take a wild animal with a firearm within 500 feet of a building occupied by humans or livestock without written permission of the owner, occupant or lessee of the building."
In my case, each house in the neighborhood is near the street (east). That means there's a clear zone in the east end of the 5 acres that is off-limits. I can write off about one acre as "un-huntable."
It's an easy rule-of-thumb to remember. One acre is 660 feet long. By staying off that east acre, I'm well beyond the 500-foot requirement.
Of course, check your local regulations for guidance on this issue. Don't forget common courtesy, too.
Further west are the woods and swamp I'll be hunting. There aren't houses, but I still don't want to encroach too far north or south. Those are the property boundaries.
This leaves a "huntable" slice down the western middle of the 5 acres. Yet the considerations don't stop there.
I don't want to shoot east, since that'd be toward the street. All shots must travel westward. Pellets will terminate in either the woods or the swamp. Both are fine. The nearest house to the west is a good distance off.
This creates Swiss cheese of my "huntable" slice, since not every inch is conducive to a hunt. Scouting efforts must concentrate on west-centric shooting scenarios.
Not shooting lanes. Shooting scenarios. This isn't deer hunting, where the game meanders through the woods into a clearing between trees. The effects of calling, as I'll write about later, must be considered as much as the terrain. Where will the birds come from and how can I turn them for a safe shot?
Before I can even think about scouting, I must address the second question posited at the beginning: How will neighbors react when they look outside and see a hunter in camo with a shotgun? Look for that post soon.
Have you hunted the suburbs? Share tips in the comments below.