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Hiking in Hunting Season Safety Guide

Hiking during the hunting season is riskier than at another time, so be sure to check these safety tips before heading out.

By Cody | @Cody

Updated on Dec 13, 2019

Hikers share the same territory with hunters. Hiking in hunting season is riskier than another time in the year. Given the risk that may exist during the time, hikers must inform themselves and respect both the rules of public use of the natural environment and the signaling of authorized hunting activities.

Hiking in Hunting Season

Here is everything you need to know about hiking in hunting season and safety tips from hunters.  

Know When Hunting Season Is

You can find the opening dates of the hunt by season from your state agency. You will also find the days of the week during which hunting is allowed for a particular species.

In most states, the hunting season runs from September to February but can start before and finish afterward in some places for some species. Some states don’t allow hunting on Sundays, for example, New Jersey, so it is a safe day for hiking, but there are also exceptions. Be sure to read prefectural decrees for heading out.

 Respect Signs

Know Where Hunting Is Allowed

As you know the hunting season period is often quite long, so hiking only outside hunting periods can be quite limiting. To hike during the hunting season, it is crucial to know where the hunters are and where the hunts are taking place. 

The best way is to know the frequent hunting places. Many parks forbid hunting, but some do so check it online before you go. You can also collect the hunting area information from locals, hunting societies, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

It should give you a good idea of places to avoid. It does not guarantee 100% that you are not going to meet hunters, but it's more likely on your side. You should also try to find out about the types of hunting in the area where you want to hike, so you know what to expect and choose your hiking spot accordingly.

General Safety Tips

If you want to hike during the hunting season, here are some tips to take the least risk possible. 

Stay on the trails. Hunters are more likely to find trail hikers than off-trail hikers, so you're less likely to find them. This helps to be safer because the shoes have probably already seen people in these places and are more vigilant.

Hike on Trail

Be visible. You can wear bright or colorful clothes. The ideal is to wear a fluorescent vest.

Respect the signage. Occasionally, hunting may take place in hiking trails with signs to indicate what’s going on, so be sure to respect the signs.

Make some noise. Let yourself known to him without any aggressiveness by making some noise. If possible group the hikers to cross together on the way.

Protect your dog. If you hike with a dog, make sure your dog is on a leash.

Avoid hiking at dawn and dusk. At this time period, hunters are more active and it is hard for them to differentiate humans from animals due to the lack of light.

What To Do If You Come Across An Ongoing Hunt?

If you hear evidence that a hunt is in progress or that hunters are nearby, try to make your presence known to hunters without any aggressiveness. You can stand in a clear place, speak, but do not make too much noise. Once a hunter sees you, go to meet him and ask him all the necessary information for a safe hike.

If you hear gunshots or dog barks, this indicates that a hunt is in progress. You probably have missed the signs that indicate the ongoing hunt. In that case, you should stay where you are until it gets away, which won’t take long.

This is often the case on trails that cross the hunting area, hence the interest of staying on the trails in "at-risk" areas. If you "fall" on a panel of this type, I advise you not to go further to the risk of finding yourself in the middle of a hunt.

As mentioned, if you see a hunter, you can ask him more information (if he is not in action). Otherwise, turn around or try to find an alternative to continue your way. I take this opportunity to remind you here of the importance of knowing how to navigate and take away something to do (map, compass, GPS, etc.) even if you follow a marked path. A hunt in progress that requires you to make a detour or turn around is just one example. 

Wrap Up

If there are temporary signs placed across the path, respect them. Otherwise, check state agency or contact the first hunter posted to find out the extent of the hunted territory and the current situation. In any case, be visible from afar.

In the hunting season, hiking and hunting must be carried out in the same territory in a compatible manner, respecting both groups. Make sure to follow these tips when you are hiking in the hunting season.

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