As in many areas of the country, Wisconsin has hunting seasons and it that time of year to think about Fall Hiking Safety. Depending on the area, hunting seasons run throughout the year for coyote. Mid September to January for most other animals and into mid February for some fur animals. Check out the Wisconsin DNR website for more Details, https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/dates.html.
The hunting times that I am concerned with are usually gun deer and some bird hunting times. Not all trails are off limits to hunting, often hunting is aloud on and along trails. Even so some parts of the Ice Age Trail go through private land that is hunted. When hunters are out they may not see a trail if they are a couple hundred feet off of it.
For years I scoffed at the idea of having to make sure that I am seen.I’d say things such as, I have as much right to be there as they do. I also have a strong dislike of wearing blaze orange. Slowly I realized that often it is my responsibility to protect myself. For instance, I often come across people walking on the road in the dark, wearing dark clothing, bicyclists at night with no lights or reflective clothing. These people are depending on the skill and awareness of the driver to continue to live, unfortunately accidents happen but we can all help to avoid them
Tips For Fall Hiking Safety During Hunting Season.
- Be aware. Know the hunting season dates and areas.
- Be seen. Where bright clothing during hunting season. Swap your earth tone hat out for a blaze orange or at least some other bright color.
- Protect your pets as well. Dogs can easily be mistaken for other animals, a bright color can help protect them as well. If they are off leash they may even be tempted to investigate off trail possible placing you into an expected situation with a hunter.
- Stay on the trails. Hunting season is not a good time to explore random areas.
- Be heard. I like to hike solo and quite but this is a good time to be with a group and having a conversation. Voices carry an amazing distance. If you come across a situation where you find hunters nearby, a friendly “good morning” or “hikers on the trail” can alert them. Avoid the lectures and condescension that some hikes can have for hunters.
- Choose areas with no hunting.
- Avoid dusk and dawn. These are the time many animals are the most active. This is also when most hunters are out.