Hiking During Hunting Season

brown deer

How Hikers Can Stay Safe

Hiking during hunting season can be tricky business. There are lots of people in the woods and many have rifles, hunting bows, and other shooting equipment. However, it is still possible to enjoy backpacking and hiking in the fall, as long as one takes some precautions to stay safe.

Blaze Orange for Hikers

Wearing blaze orange is a common way to be seen when in the woods. Many states require hunters to wear a certain amount of orange during the season so as not to confuse a person with a game animal. A common form is by wearing a blaze orange hunting vest over one’s regular clothing. Also, hats, jackets, and other outerwear are now made in hunter orange, and can be purchased at a hunting supply store or online.

Know What the Current Hunting Season Is

Before going out on a hike, check with local land managers and state agencies whether it is currently hunting season and whether it is likely that hunters will be active in the planned hiking area. Check with the state department of natural resources, or similar state agency that regulates hunting for a calendar of the different hunting seasons throughout the year. Seasons vary with the type of game (deer, elk, bear, fowl, etc.) or the equipment used, such as rifle, black powder, or archery.

Staying Safe in the Field

In the field, there are some things hikers can do so that both hunters and hikers can have a positive and safe outdoor experience. These include:

  • When driving on backcountry dirt roads, drive at safe speeds, as there may be increased vehicle traffic from trucks and ATVs, especially on weekends.
  • If sharing campsites or using adjourning sites with hunters, stay friendly and have a positive attitude.
  • Talk to hunters in the area as to where they will be hunting so as to stay clear of tree stands and blinds so as to be out of the range of fire and so as not to scare off game.
  • Wear the blaze orange to stay visible.
  • Hike on established trails and paths to stay visible and where it is obvious people will be, instead of hiking cross-country through the woods.

Sometimes It’s Better to Stay at Home

On peak days, such as opening weekends, it might be a good idea to stay clear of the woods when there will be more hunters than usual in the area. It’s better to stay safe than to fight the crowds and take a risk.

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