Every year when September rolls around, my mom would put a bright red bandana around my dog's neck. I always wondered why, and when I asked about it she reminded me that hunting season was starting, and we don't want hunters mistaking our dog for another animal in the woods. When September rolled around a few weeks ago, I found myself searching for a red bandana or something brightly colored to tie around my dog's neck before we ventured out on a hike.
3 simple tactics to make sure you return home safe from your hike
1. Know the hunting season
It is important to realize which hunting season is taking place at the time of your hike. Some seasons have higher hunter traffic in the woods than others. It's important to be aware of what could happen around you and what noises you should be paying attention to, and keep in mind that the weapons used varies by season — some are firearms and others are bows.
Researching when different hunting seasons open and close is beneficial to do before your hike, and it's also important to realize when hunters are more likely to be out. Early morning is a high traffic time when hunters are trying to get to their tree stands or other spots for the day. It's good to think about these factors when deciding when to hit the woods.
2. Wear bright colors
When walking through the woods it is a good idea to wear bright oranges or yellows. You want to stick out and make it obvious for hunters to distinguish you from camouflaged animals. Wearing a bright shirt, hat, or carrying a brightly colored pack are all great ideas to draw attention to yourself in the woods. Avoid wearing camouflage colors such as tan, green, or brown. This will cause you to blend in with the woods, and hunters will not be able to clearly tell what is walking through the woods.
If you are someone who likes to hike during sunrise or sunset, I suggest wearing a headlamp and some reflective gear to maximize your visibility to the hunters out at dusk or dawn. I took my dog for a hike into Low’s Ridge last week and I put a red pack on him so he would clearly stand out, and I wore a bright orange backpack. There was no problem seeing us in the woods!
3. Follow the trail markers
Trail markers are on the trees for a reason! It is crucial to follow them and stay on the trail during your hike, especially during hunting season. Try to keep the dog on the trail, too, instead of allowing her to wander in the woods. Marked trails are generally pretty clear, and if you go off making your own trail you not only risk getting lost, you also make the noise of an animal rustling through the woods. Also, most hunters know where marked hiking trails are and they are likely to stay away from these areas, whereas this cannot be guaranteed if you are creating your own trail as you meander through the woods.
There are some great opportunities to avoid the hunters and to hike without the worry. Check out these trail systems below:
Hunting season is one of my favorite times to hike. Seeing the leaves at peak from the summit is worth the effort to get up there. But, it is important to hike safely during this season. Knowing the hunting season, dressing appropriately, and following the trail markers are all factors that can increase your safety when out on the trails. I even like to whistle or talk to my dog or friends while hiking to let anyone around know we are on the trail. Think about your safety before you head out on your next trip, and plan accordingly!
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