It’s that time of year again. Temperatures and leaves are falling and public lands are opening up for hunting. A lot of campers and hikers are also hunters and are putting away their summer gear and putting on their blaze orange vests for the season. But for those of us hikers who aren’t hunters, it’s important to recognize that we share the land and we need to respect each other as we enjoy the outdoors.
Don’t be scared to go into the woods during hunting season. All public lands post signs stating that it’s hunting season and are careful to make sure recreationists are aware of the presence of hunting activity. Here are some easy steps you can take to enjoy hiking through hunting season:
1. Wear brightly colored clothing. Hunters, like the ones in the picture above, are required to wear blaze orange and will easily recognize you coming through the woods with this color on. You don’t want to look like a deer so don’t wear brown or white clothes and avoid earth tones.
2. Make a little noise. Hunters are listening closely for animals and if you are carrying on a conversation or whistling as you walk, then they are sure to be alerted to your presence. If you hear shooting, raise your voice to let them know you are in the area.
3. Be courteous to hunters and non-hunters alike. Just because you see a hunter doesn’t make it alright to walk over and have a conversation. Remember you are sharing the woods and you should respect their activities as much as you want yours respected.
4. Nothing could be worse than Fido bolting off through the woods after something. Keep your dog leashed and you’ll never have a problem. If you aren’t going to use a leash, make sure your dog has bright colors on and keep it close by you.
5. Opening and closing weeks of hunting seasons are not ideal times to hike hunting areas. There tends to be a lot of activity during these times as hunters try to make the most of the season. Check for these dates and work around them if you can.
6. If you aren’t comfortable with hunting, then go somewhere else. State Parks and National Parks are just some of the public lands that don’t allow hunting. You might also ask friends who hunt about their favorite places to hunt – and then avoid hiking in those particular areas during hunting season.
Follow these simple steps when you’re hitting the trails this season and you’ll be able to enjoy hiking no matter where you are. And remember, hunters and hikers, like most outdoors people, share a love of natural places and work together to conserve them for future generations.