Although these cases are extremely rare, it’s stories such as this one about hikers being killed by hunters that spark safety concerns. While most of these cases revolve around either the hiker being in a permitted hunting area or a hunter being in a hiking-only area, ensure you will stay safe by following these easy steps.
The hunting season for different animals varies, so make sure to check out your state’s fish and wildlife website before heading out. There are also many states that have regulations on the times and days that hunters are allowed to be active, as well of the type of weapon they are allowed to use. For example, hunting on Sundays in New Jersey is only permitted in specific areas. According to an article published by USA Today, “firearm season for white-tailed deer, in particular, is when hikers should be on high alert, since it’s when the greatest number of hunters are active.”
In addition to knowing the season, make sure you understand where hunting is actually allowed. Many national parks do not permit hunting, such as Yellowstone, so this is a good option for those who don’t want to conduct too much further research before they set out on a hike. Some organizations, such as the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, have lists of areas to hike where hunting is not allowed on their websites.
After you have found out where hunting is not permitted, take the extra step and make sure to wear the correct colors. If you don’t own one of the bright orange vests hunters wear for safety, make sure the colors you’re wearing are bright enough so that you don’t blend in. According to The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, don’t wear red or blue during turkey season.
“Many factors, such as the lunar calendar, affect peak times of day for animal activity, and hence hunting. However, as a rule of thumb, these usually coincide with sunrise and sunset,” the article stated. “It’s best to avoid being in hunting areas during those times since you’ll be less visible in the dim light. But if you must be out at those times, use a headlamp or flashlight and wear reflective material.”
Another piece of advice is to make noise while you’re on the trail. If you hear shooting, the Washington Trails Association advises people to shout to let the hunters know you’re nearby. The American Hiking Society also advises those who are not avid hikers to contact local hiking clubs or park officials to find out what times are best to hike and where.
For people who are accompanied on their hikes by their dogs, make sure to either keep them on a leash or purchase an orange vest for them to wear.