Attitudes and Opinions of Virginia's Spring Turkey Hunters towards Safety Issues

A questionnaire entitled "Spring Turkey and Other Hunting in Virginia: A Hunter Survey" was sent to 2,500 randomly selected Virginia resident hunting license holders, 440 of whom were spring turkey hunters. The questionnaire focused on 4 aspects of spring gobbler hunting: economics, season structure, aspects of enjoyment, and safety. This paper deals with the attitudes and opinions of Virginia's spring turkey hunters towards specific issues relating to safety during the spring season. Simple means or frequencies were computed for all responses to survey questions. Responses to questions were compared using the X2 test for independence. The average Virginia spring turkey hunter was male, 38 years old, and had hunted during the spring gobbler season for about 10 years. Most felt that the site they hunted on during their last trip of the 1990 spring season was not crowded. Over 45% had felt in danger of being shot at least once during their spring turkey hunting experiences. While a majority did not feel that there were too many turkey hunters, many felt that there were too many inconsiderate and unskilled turkey hunters. A majority of hunters were still opposed to a mandatory hunter orange requirement during the spring season and to shot size restrictions. Hunters who had felt in danger of being shot during the spring season tended to report a higher degree of crowdedness as well as a greater problem with interference by other hunters. Hunters who belonged to an outdoor-oriented organization were more likely to oppose requiring hunter orange and to support the prohibition of rifles during the spring gobbler season. Hunters who hunted on federal land reported a higher degree of crowdedness on their hunting size. Overall, our results suggest that, from the hunters' point-of-view, additional regulations during the spring season are not acceptable means to improve safety.

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