A hobby enjoyed by many people around the world is hiking. There is no better feeling than putting on your hiking boots, picking up your backpack, and just going on a hike.
Even though it is a lot of fun, there are sometimes some concerns about safety. This is especially true when hunting season is right around the corner.
I am going to be giving you some safety tips for hiking during hunting season. This is to make sure you know what you’re getting into and how to save yourself from danger.
So read this before you go for your hike!
Why Is It Dangerous to Hike During Hunting Season?
There are some of us who are completely new to hiking or have never hiked a trail where there is any danger of finding a hunter.
But, being caught in the middle of a hunt when you are in the middle of a hike can be a little unnerving, even dangerous.
You ask why?
Let us imagine a situation where you are peacefully hiking on a trail, and someone happens to be hunting very close to where you are.
First of all, the gunshot alone is enough to scare you, especially if you are a solo hiker. And secondly, you might even get injured during the hunt.
Now, this might happen either because you were scared and in a rush, took a bad step, and hurt yourself. But there could also be a scenario where you were too close to the animal being hunted, and the bullet shot you and not the animal.
In either of the cases, you are the one losing out because you were not prepared. You could easily avoid any situation like this if you know what you are getting into, have learned all the safety measures, and are aware of your surroundings.
Just these little things are, at times, enough to keep yourself alive when it comes to dangerous situations like these.
10 Safety Tips for Hiking During Hunting Season
Here I am going to list out all the tips you could find helpful when you are hiking in a forest or on a trail where hunting is allowed.
Most of them are very easy to keep in mind when hiking, and some you might already be aware of and follow.
Tip #1: Wear Bright Colours to Stand Out
Hiking is not the time for you to put on dull or camo-print outfits. If you are hiking at other times of the year, you can make do with wearing whatever color you want to wear; however, it is not the same when you are going on the hike in hunting season.
You want to be seen from a mile away when you are hiking during hunting season. At this time, the hunters are very focused on their target and might pay you much heed if you are wearing something that blends you in with the forest. And you don’t want this little mistake to take your life.
So, by wearing something bright, like orange or even something neon, you can attract the hunter’s attention. This is how they will know you are there and won’t mistake you as the prey.
A tiny step can save your life. And in the fall, orange is just the color to go for!
Tip #2: Find Trail Where Hunting Isn’t Allowed
Honestly, the easiest way for you to avoid being shot at by a hunter or even being startled by a gunshot is to make sure to pick a trail where hunting isn’t allowed. This seems like an easy enough step to take if you want to save yourself from the danger of being caught by a hunter.
There are many forests where hunting isn’t allowed. The main reason behind it is that the authorities want to preserve the wildlife in the area.
So, before you pick a trail for the weekend, just do a little digging to find out whether you are going to come head to head with a blazing gun.
The chances of you finding a no-hunting zone are very high. You will find during your search that there are more places open to hikers than hunters, as wildlife preservation has become a very important matter these days.
If you don’t want to spend some time of your day figuring out where to go where you won’t find any hunters, then your best bet would be to stay away from national forest trails. You are sure to get in the middle of something or the other in there.
Tip #3: Know When Hunting Season Starts and Ends
If you are new to hiking, then the chances are you don’t really know when the hunting season begins or ends.
So, the first thing on your to-do list would be to figure out the hunting season in the area you live in. The days and months vary from city to city because of the weather and the laws.
In your research, you will find that hunting is mostly enjoyed during the months of September, October, and November.
These months also happen to be some of the greater months for hiking. This clash in the seasons makes it a little difficult to navigate when you should hike.
Regardless, call up the local authorities of the park you are planning to go hiking on and ask when the season starts. In your state, the season might be later on in the year. In any case, it is better to know when you might expect the hunters.
Tip #4: Hike in the Middle of the Day
The best time for you to hike if you are truly looking to avoid any close encounters with your hunter buddies is by hiking in the middle of the day. And there is a good reason why you should be doing that.
One of the most common animals that are hunted during the hunting season is deers. And you will find that they are the most acting during the hours of dawn and dusk.
So, the hunters will obviously be our hunting at these times so they can easily catch the deers.
If you can somehow shift up your hiking schedule and fit it in just before lunch, you will not only avoid the hunters; you will also be able to avoid most animals. This is when the forest is the quietest. You will be able to enjoy nature more.
Let’s not forget to mention how amazing lunch is going to taste after a long hard hike.
Tip #5: Make Noise While Hiking
One thing hunters know for sure is that the animals they are hunting do not know how to talk or sing. I sure have never heard a deer or elk sing when I am out hiking.
So to let the hunters know you are in the area, you could sing and talk. The talking part is easier if you are not alone. But you could also think out loud if you are alone.
When you are in a densely packed forest, the chances are the hunter won’t be able to see you properly. But letting them know of your presence with noises can be your only way of making them aware.
The hunters will know which direction you are in. And sometimes, how loud you are can give them an estimate of the distance.
All of this is very important if you want to stay safe on your hike when hunters are out there with their guns pointed toward an elk or deer. Sometimes your movements might even confuse them into thinking you are the prey.
Making noise has more benefits. It will keep dangerous snakes away from you. However, it is recommended to wear snake gaiters if you are hiking in snake prone area.
Tip #6: Stay on Your Trail
Seems like I am adding a very obvious point to my list of safety tips for hiking during hunting season, but you will not believe how many people leave their trail.
Some of the more experienced hikers might want to leave the trail and explore more of the forest or park.
Most of the time, that is not a very big issue if they know the area well and know to get back. But during hunting season, this might be a dangerous action to take.
One of the main reasons behind it is the possibility of getting shot at by mistake. This has happened many times. Hunters are not allowed to hunt near the hiking trails.
So, if you stay on your path, then the chances of you encountering anything unpleasant are very unlikely. You just have to stay sharp about where you are and keep your eyes and ears open.
Tip #7: Do Not Interact with Any Animals
There are many of us who love animals. And sometimes, when we cross paths with animals like deers and elk, we might stop on on track and try to interact with it in some way or the other.
During hunting season, that might be a very bad idea for you.
Hunts can get pretty intense at times, and you cannot really predict how a deer is going to react or which direction it is going to head when a shot is fired.
In all this flurry of activities, you don’t want to be the one who gets shot by accident. The animal might move towards you, or you could be too close when the shot is fired.
In either case, you should steer clear whenever you see an animal that is commonly hunted.
A Quick Tip: If your hiking trail is in bear country, don’t forget to carry bear spray and whistle.
Tip #8: Put a Leash on Your Dog
Dogs truly are our best friends. And who better to take with us on our hike than our best friends?
Not only do our dogs keep us company when we are going about the trail, but the hike is also very good for their health. They need regular exercise, and that is precisely what the hike provides.
However, they can at times be very curious and might even wander around during the hike. This is something you want to avoid if you are hiking during the hunting season.
They might put themselves in danger if they come between a hunt. Also, they might easily get shot if the hunter mistakes them for a deer or elk.
If your dog is on a tight leash, then the chances of them running off somewhere is lower. And you also do not get hurt when you are out looking for them.
Previously I mentioned the hiker should wear a bright color like orange or even something neon to keep themselves safe from hunters.
However, this does not just apply to you if you are taking your dog out for a hike with you. It is very important to make sure the dogs are safe too.
So for that, put on a bright orange vest on your dog before you start the hike. The likelihood of the dog being mistaken for a small deer or elk is very high. So, just to be on the safe side, it is better to make them wear a vest.
Tip# 9: Go on Sundays
This is not applicable to everyone. But in some states, it is against the law to hunt on Sundays. So even if you do want to hike during hunting season, you will be able to do so without a worry if your plans happen to be on a Sunday.
Most people don’t work on Sundays, so you shouldn’t have a problem.
Tip #10: Look for Signs
In most areas where hunting is allowed, you will see signs put up by the authorities. So, if you can keep a close eye on them, you will be able to avoid any area where you might come face to face with a hunter.
The safety tips for hiking during hunting season I described here are all very helpful. By following these steps, you can avoid putting yourself in harm’s way. For any more questions, do not hesitate to ask.