Our planet is most beautiful, especially during fall. At full swing, the leaves gradually transform from green to orange, red, and yellow. The insects are almost nowhere to be found, and the beautiful foliage is accompanied by fresh air.
To some, it’s the most exciting season of the year, packed with many fun-filled activities that have gone on for years. Just as it is the ideal time to go hiking and taking pictures, another group also takes shots: Hunters! So, the big question arises, can hunting and hiking during hunting season function together? Yes, they can! But both parties have to stick to some essential safety tips to stay out of harm’s way.
If you will be hiking during hunting season and are looking for things to watch out for, look no further. This piece covers all the hiking safety rules you need to ensure you have an accident-free experience this hiking season. Suppose you’ll be hunting during hiking season, rest easy, you are not left out. We’ll also explore crucial deer hunting safety tips for hunters. If you are ready, let’s begin!
Be Aware of Hunting Season Dates
Knowledge, they say, is power. The ultimate advice when hiking during hunting season remains that it’s always best to hike when the hunters are not out hunting. This implies that you have to be aware of hunting season dates and avoid hiking on those dates.
Deer hunting draws out the most significant number of hunters and remains the most popular season; other animals too come at various dates. You’d want to be very careful on those dates or strike out hiking altogether to stay safe.
Another safety tip is to know the busiest days: The opening day, the day that follows, and the first and last Saturdays are usually the most active days of any hunting season. Hunting season dates vary from state to state. Depending on where you live, quick research on the internet and elsewhere can save you from unwanted scenarios. The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s interactive map (To others, it is the State department of fish and wildlife) is another source for verified information. They offer verified dates, types of hunting, and areas that will be hunted.
Learn About the Area Prior to Hiking
If seeing hunters in the woods with guns makes you uneasy, it’s best to hike where hunters are not allowed. The best way to go about this is to gather valuable information about the area before heading out. This is pretty much an easy task to do, as there are many places where hunters and hunting are forbidden.
On the other hand, there are also places where hiking is not allowed. These are probably areas with hazardous terrains or heavy hunting. Also, a handful of states in the country do not allow hunting on Sundays, which is the ideal day for itch-fee hiking.
Areas including national parks, town and city parks, and conservation areas are good examples of where you may never come across a hunter.
Before hiking, get familiar with the rules and regulations of places you’ll be visiting. There are laws in place to ensure a positive experience for everyone and protect the natural environment. You can look up relevant websites to know if you’ll be needing to bring your pet, park pass, or permits.
Stay Away from Hunting Areas and Stick to Hiking Trails
Most hunters do well to avoid the popular hiking paths. They head off-trail to hunt for games. Thus, hikers sticking to trails makes a lot of sense, especially on opening and closing days. Also, try to avoid leaving trails as this helps do the following:
- reduce your environmental impact during hiking.
- Keep unsuspecting hikers safe by not following any spider trail you create.
Signages are always in place to keep everyone safe, and you’d want to take them seriously. This time it’s not just about the dangers posed by hunters; some areas or locations are considered not conducive for hiking.
The signs and markers offer the needed information about what to expect at a given location. Signs at the park tell visitors where they are and where to go. You’ve probably heard countless stories of hikers who got lost. One can tell they never paid attention to signs and markings at their location.
Hike During the Day
If you must go hiking during hunting season, you should plan on hiking during the day instead of dawn or late in the evening. Game animals are most active at dusk and dawn. So expect a lot of hunting during these times. Your chances of encountering wild animals and hunters during the day are very slim. Also, you should remember that since light is reduced during the early and late hours the visibility also decreases, so it can be harder for the hunters to distinguish you in the woods. Your safest bet to staying out of danger is letting the wild animals and hunters do their thing at those times.
Wear Bright Colors
One of the first hiking safety rules during fall is your fashion statement. Blaze-orange-colored vests are what hunters wear for safety; it is wise to have one on you too. Wild animals are usually not orange in color. Hence, wearing blaze orange or other bright colors makes you distinguishable while hiking during hunting season. Ethical hikers wear hunter orange vests, comfortable shoes, backpacks, and bandanas/ bright orange hats. An orange vest will keep your dog noticeable and not taken for a deer.
While flip-flops do little or nothing at protecting your feet, cotton materials and denim jeans are too heavy. Hence they make no good clothing for hiking. In addition to making you more visible, a blaze-orange-colored vest or reflective survival jacket also does the job of reflecting your heat at you.
Be Extra Cautious at Dawn and Dusk
Hunters find it challenging to distinguish between colors and shapes at dusk and dawn due to lack of light. It is one reason you should eschew hiking during these hours.
Wild animals tend to be more active at dawn and dusk for foliage. The hunters know this and see it as the perfect time for serious hunting activities (Hunters are also active during the day but a bit less). However, if you fancy catching a glimpse of the beautiful sunset or sunrise out in the woods, in that case, ensure to make yourself as visible as possible.
In addition to wearing blaze orange clothing, do well to carry a flashlight or have a headlamp to alert hunters to your presence if you must hike during the busy hours.
Be Heard Before You Are Seen
Hiking is best enjoyed when done in groups. This way, you lots can alert hunters of your presence by keeping conversations going. Hiking alone is fun and has its benefits, but hiking in a group (a group of 4 hikers is ideal) is safer. This way, if one person gets hurt, two can look for help while the last person stays until help arrives.
However, if you can’t go with a group, you’d want to make sure you make as much noise to be heard and seen. You likely hear gunshots on the busiest days. Therefore, keeping hunters alerted is crucial for safety. Sing, whistle, or wear a bear bell to keep the noise on as you go along the trail. While you make your presence known, be careful not to disrespect others as well.
Keep a Dog on a Leash
If you are taking your dog along for hiking, there are safety measures you must take to ensure you both are out of trouble. Some hunters may not be able to tell the difference between your dog and a coyote or wolf. To avoid mishaps, your dog should be on a leash and on the same trail, just like you. While it is mandatory to have your canine on a leash in some conservation areas, others may allow hiking with your dog unleashed. You should have one of those blaze orange vests for your dog and a brightly colored bandana on its neck. This helps distinguish your dog from wild animals.
There you have it—all you need to know to keep safe when hiking during hunting season. You need food and water to stay energized while hiking. Energy drinks and water can help you stay hydrated; alcohol and sugary sodas, on the other hand, will do you no good. In addition to dehydration, the mind-altering effect of alcohol is something you really want to avoid.
However, if you’ll be hunting during the hiking season, here are a handful of deer hunting safety tips to keep in mind.
During your hunting expedition, do well to alert hikers to your presence. Keep your fingers away from the trigger until when ready to take a shot. Use the right gear and firearm. If you are using a Ruger 10/22 rifle for instance, do get a Ruger 1022 takedown scope and be sure of your targets before taking shots. Alternatively, you can read vortex rifle scope reviews to pick the appropriate scope for your rifle.
Enjoy your hike and stay safe!
Mike Fellon was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He inherited his hunting passions after his father John – he was fascinated by his stories, hearing how much attention, focus, dedication and patience he invested in shooting every animal. When he was old enough, his father first allowed him to shoot some cans and bottles with his shotgun, and then took him hunting – it was love at first sight. Mike has never stopped pursuing his hobby ever since.