As a kid, sitting still while hunting could be a challenge. Not if I knew there was a turkey coming in to where I might get a shot, but when they were far enough away where I thought I could get away with fidgeting. One year my dad put a bright green sticker on my gun that said “hunt safely”. All I wanted to do while we sat and waited was to pick at it. I remember asking him why we had to have it on the gun when we got back to the truck. He said, “because it’s the law and if the game warden checks, we have to have it”. I really didn’t think much of it because I knew that the EPO’s were there to enforce the rules.
Before turkey season this year I saw a lot of people asking on various hunting social media groups where they could get a safety sticker, as it is the law in Massachusetts to have on your gun “positioned so you can see it when sighting down the barrel” (https://www.mass.gov/service-details/turkey-hunting-safety). Not so helpful among some of the comments, were people who expressed that the idea of having a sticker to help you hunt safely was nonsense.
“If anybody needs a sticker to hunt safe they have no business being in the woods”
“Requiring someone to put a sticker on their gun to hunt turkeys is one of the dumbest regs on the books. It’s totally absurd. Why don’t they require a bright orange sticker for deer hunting or a duck sticker for duck hunting. It’s non sense. Is this really enforced? Seems stupid to me. It’s the responsibility of the gunner to ID their target and what’s beyond. What is the point/rationale of the green sticker? I’m not a turkey hunter. It just seems stupid. Plus what If you were using a fine shotgun? I wouldn’t want to put a green sticker on one for example”
“I definitely feel safer with the sticker on my shotgun, I don’t know about you guys…”
I quickly realized that I didn’t know the history, only that it’s the law, so I started doing some poking around. Here’s what the National Wild Turkey Federation had to say about the green safety stickers. “Back in the 90’s there was a hunting incident where someone was shot turkey hunting. There were concerns over safety and the state thought about shutting down turkey hunting or requiring Hunter Orange in order to turkey hunt. The NWTF worked out an agreement for the stickers in order to save having a season and not require the orange. In essence the sticker saved the season. The NWTF pays for and provides the state with these stickers at no cost to the state in order to distribute to the hunters.The sticker must be placed so it is visible as you sight down the gun to shoot. The idea is that it gets you to think safety before you shoot.”
I personally feel like the NWTF did us hunters a favor by working out this agreement. If you’re familiar with turkey hunting, then you know that we go out in full camo. Having to wear blaze orange would have made the season impossible. The sticker is fairly easy to obtain and it’s provided for free. Education is key to making us all better hunters, and now knowing the history I feel like these safety stickers are a no-brainer. Before you go and make a comment similar to those quoted above, I urge you to think about the reason behind the sticker. Would you rather not be able to turkey hunt? On the other hand, if you know the history and you hear someone making these types of comments, explain the backstory to them. Try to change their perspective.
The worst thing that we can do as a community is to ridicule the rules that are in place to keep us safe. Safety is not something to be taken lightly when it comes to using firearms. Are the stickers going to physically impact a hunter before they take their shot? No. But if every turkey hunter looks down at that sticker, knowing WHY it’s there, before they disengage their safety, then accidents and unethical shots can be avoided. Even if it is “just a sticker”.