Fall is a great time to get out and enjoy hiking and camping outdoors but it’s also the start of hunting season so it’s important to stay safe on the trail. NewHampshire.com posted a good article this weekend with some safety tips to keep in mind when hiking during hunting season and I thought I’d reiterate some points here.
1. Stick to the trail. Most hunters avoid areas near popular hiking trails since humans tend to scare deer and other wildlife away so if you’re on a trail you’re generally safe. Stray away from the trail and you just might walk into someone’s hunting area – not a good idea during hunting season.
2. Wear brightly colored clothing. Dressing in orange is your best bet for autumn hikes since this makes you stand out from brown deer and turkeys in the eyes of distant hunters. The article mentions that white clothing, while bright, is not a good choice since some hunters may mistake a flash of white for a white tail deer. I’m thinking purple or blue would be pretty safe too but I won’t take my chances – orange it is.
3. Hike during the middle of the day. Many animals like deer appear around dawn and dusk hours and that’s when hunters are likely to be out in full force. Fortunately for us hikers mid-day is the warmest part of the day and a great time for a hike.
4. Stick to wilderness areas or National Parks where hunting is prohibited. If you’re super scared of encountering a hunter while hiking, eliminate your chances of an encounter by sticking to areas where hunters aren’t allowed to hunt. This also means avoiding the most popular hunting spots like designated hunting land. A little common sense goes a long way when it comes to avoiding hunters…
I was tempted to add a fifth tip recommending talking loudly to let hunters know you’re in the area but I’ve used that one myself with mixed results. It’s probably a good idea to fit your dog with a “bear bell” if he or she is prone to wandering during a hike but sometimes hunters can become angry with hikers who scare off local game. Once while I was on a trail I yelled out to a friend who was following behind only to hear a loud shotgun blast just above my head. I looked up to see a hunter in a stand above, clearly upset that I had ruined his spot. At least he saw me (but good thing he didn’t aim AT me!).
There’s no need to worry about hiking during hunting season as long as you use some common sense and follow these simple tips. See you on the trail!