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Is it safe to hike during the hunting season?
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Yes of course it is!! This time of year is my absolute favorite for hiking. The crisp air and beautiful Fall colors are so invigorating. Living around so much public land affords us terrific opportunities to get out there an experience nature in the Fall, whether we are hiking or hunting. But there are few things hikers – and hunters – must remember to ensure that we can all use the land safely.
Hikers, you should always be aware of when the hunting seasons begin and end, and where the most popular hunting locations are. Once you are out there, make sure you stay on the trails. Hunters know where the trails are, and are cautious around them. If you are bush whacking across the landscape, a hunter who hears you might be expecting you to be a deer or elk. Of course, if you are nervous about hiking during the hunting season, perhaps now is a wonderful time for you to explore Utah’s national parks! There is no hunting allowed inside their boundaries.
Did you know neon colors are “in” this Fall? So, for once you’ll be on trend when you bust out your neon orange t-shirt, vest, or hat when hiking on public lands this Fall. In all seriousness, consider that neon orange is a safety color for a reason. For one, no game species has patches of neon orange on it. However, turkeys have pale blue, white, and red. White, tan and light brown are colors associated with deer and elk. You want to avoid wearing these colors to hike during the hunting season, lest a hunter mistake you for its target. When you wear “earth tones” you just blend in when you want to STAND OUT. And this includes your dog. Most pet stores carry brightly colored collars, bandanas, and vests.
Finally, make yourself known, especially if you hear gunfire. A polite shout of “Hikers on the trail!” will let hunters know you are on your way. If you are hiking through a densely vegetated area, whistle, sing a song, or start talking loudly to your hiking buddy or dog until you get into an open area.
Hunters, you can do your part to create a safe environment for hikers and hunters alike. You should always know where the trails are, and do not aim your weapon across a trail. If hikers come within your range, please politely let them know you are there – quietly coughing, clearing your throat, quietly whistling, standing up, etc. are subtle ways to let yourself be known without ruining your hunting position.
Firearms related fatalities have decreased by 48% in the last 20 years (National Safety Council), in part because of hunter education courses and hikers taking safety precautions. More information about these and other safety tips during the hunting season can be found at www.recreation.gov.
Good luck and have fun!