Photo: Blaze orange, hot pink or neon green clothing is a must for hiking or biking in the woods during fall.
When hikers or trail bike riders enter the woods this fall, they need to remember it’s hunting season for small game, waterfowl and big game, and go prepared to share the woods with hunters before they leave home.
Sharing the woods with those who love the outdoors, but have different interests than you, means it’s time to put safety first and always be respectful of others.
For a nonhunter, the first step is to be sure to be seen.
WEAR BLAZE ORANGE, HOT PINK OR NEON GREEN colors as a hat, a vest or jacket. It’s a must for anyone in the color-changing woods this time of year, and don’t forget putting some on your family dog.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS. Remembering that it is hunting season will improve your awareness. Know the dates of hunting seasons in your area by looking them up on your state Department of Natural Resources or Conservation website. Many hunting seasons, especially firearms seasons, are much shorter in duration than most people realize.
Be aware temperatures can drop quickly. Check the weather before you begin your trip and wear appropriate base layers, bring waterproof and windproof outer layers, and pack extra layers and socks. If weather conditions turn unfavorable, turn around. You can always hike or bike that trail another day.
PICK THE RIGHT TRAIL. During fall, stick to established hiking or bike trails. Hunters generally avoid heavily used hiking paths because activity in the woods usually frightens game species. As a result, hunters will be situated deeper in the woods. The noise and foot traffic on main trails make them not the ideal place to hunt.
PICK THE RIGHT TIME. Legal hunting times most often are from a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset. Wildlife and hunters are most active at dawn and dusk. Taking a midday hike or bike ride when light conditions are optimal is best, and you’ll be less likely to run into a hunter during mid-week because most hunting takes place on weekends.
MAKE SOME NOISE. If you’re hiking or trail riding, you can talk, sing or whistle to make your presence known in the woods. Chances are good anyone in your vicinity has heard you. This is great advice for any time of year. Placing a bell on your dog’s collar is another excellent way to make continuous noise during a hike.
HIKE/BIKE SAFELY. Be knowledgeable about where you are going and what the local weather and terrain conditions are. Leave your plans with someone, stay together if you’re in a group, turn back in inclement weather or if you are running out of daylight, and plan and prepare for unexpected emergencies.
MANAGE YOUR TIME WISELY. Be mindful of sunrise and sunset times, and plan accordingly. Start long hikes or bike trails early to ensure you will have enough daylight to finish before dark, and always bring a headlamp. By checking the approximate sunset time before you begin your hike or ride, you can avoid trouble on the trail.
Fall is always a great time to be outside. By carefully planning your hike or trail ride, and being aware there are other people and hunters sharing the woods with you, everyone can enjoy he outdoors safely.
– Resources: New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.