Safe Hiking During Hunting Season

This moose I saw this morning had no worries since it was Sunday. But it will have to watch out tomorrow.

It’s hunting season here in Maine, as in many other places, and that means it’s time to break out the fluorescent orange vests and hats every time we take to the trails, woods, or even camp roads. Here are a few safety reminders for hiking, mountain biking, trail running, or any activity that gets you out in the woods this time of year. I posted these last year, but they bear repeating.

Be Very Visible: Ideally you should wear blaze (fluorescent) orange clothing that can be seen from all sides, like a hat and some sort of vest or jacket. Bright reds and yellows are also good color options (though on overcast days they can appear black, so use carefully). Think bright, even garish. Now’s a great time to go retro with that old neon jacket from the ’80s. Make sure your backpack has some bright orange on it too, like a large orange bandanna. Avoid any brown, tan, and especially white. You don’t want to look like the flash of a deer’s tail. And don’t forget to outfit your dog with its own blaze orange vest and collar.

Make Yourself Heard: Usually I opt for quiet on a hike or trail run, but during hunting season I’m far more likely to keep up a steady conversation with a partner. If you’re alone you can whistle or sing to make yourself heard, or consider a bell on you or your dog. Now is not the time to practice your stealth hiking moves.

Be Aware: Hunters are active from early dawn to dusk and in between. While you’re more likely to find hunters closer to any roads or trailheads and in valleys, expect that you can meet them anywhere at any time. Also, while bushwhacking can be a lot of fun, during the weeks of hunting season I stick to marked and maintained trails.

Know the Rules: If possible hike on trails in areas where no hunting is allowed or on days of the week (like Sunday here in Maine) when there’s no hunting. While deer rifle season typically brings the most hunters out into the woods, a variety of hunting seasons can extend the activity year-round. Know the hunting season dates and rules for your state and local areas.

Above all use common sense and do your part to share the woods safely.

Filed under: Outdoor Skills


110 reviewer rep
762 forum posts
November 2, 2008 at 11:14 p.m. (EST)

Thanks Alicia. Great idea.

Hunting is allowed on the property that surrounds our environmental education center. Of course, safety is paramount, so we asked the PA Game Commission to post signs that read "Hunters wear orange, so should you (and your dog)". I have also placed reminder bills on the windshields of hunters' vehicles in our parking lot. These bills remind hunters that our land is also used by hikers, birders, mountain bikers, tourists and visiting school groups. We keep a supply of orange vests on hand for school kids and visitors to use while out on our trails as well.

Remember, hunting season may be the ONLY time that some sportsmen and women spend in the woods all year. Most sportsmen are respectful of the land, but I've run into a few in my day, who seem to think I was in the wrong for being out there during "their time of the year".

Share the land cautiously and carefully. It's only for a short time.

Alicia MacLeay (Alicia)
983 reviewer rep
3,948 forum posts
November 3, 2008 at 1:18 p.m. (EST)

You're welcome, f_klock.

I think reminders at trailheads and so on are a huge help. Those of us who don't hunt may need to learn what is and isn't safe behaviors at this time of year and some of us simply need a reminder of what else is happening out in the woods.

110 reviewer rep
762 forum posts
November 3, 2008 at 7:52 p.m. (EST)

If you're not into hunter orange clothing, hot pink is a great alternative.(Half kidding :-) It is easily as visible as the orange, and it doesn't blend with ANYTHING in the woods like orange can with autumn leaves.

1,663 reviewer rep
3,956 forum posts
November 3, 2008 at 9:50 p.m. (EST)

As an occasional hunter I have often said that an IQ Test should be a prerequisite for a hunting license. It is a shame too many young hunters head out with not enough common sense or training, the occasional accident is proof of such.
Not that any activity is without accidents, but just exactly how does a "hunter" mistake a human for a deer or other large mammal IF he positively ID's the species and sex as being correct for that particular hunt?! Humans don't look anything like a Deer or ELK.

Anyway, I wear orange when appropriate, and whistle or whatever as I hike. If this upsets a hunter he is simply too close to the trail and that's all there is to it.

As a hunter I realize the greater burden of responsibility is upon me and is not anything I take lightly.
I wish I could say all hunters felt that way but a small minority do not, a few think that since they pay for a license they should have full and complete access to hunting areas during season as f klock mentioned.

I don't know about the hot pink man. You might catch me in a kilt first. HaHa

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