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PSA: Hiking in Hunting Season

Four years ago, I went on a solo hiking adventure down to Shawnee State Park near Portsmouth, OH.  For those who have never been, it contains a 35 mile loop trail which runs around the state park and through some portions of the larger surrounding state forest.  There is a cutoff trail in the center however which means the trail can be chunked down into a 19 mile north loop and a 26 mile south one.  For this trip, I chose the south because I had two full days to hike and I was looking for some miles.  And let me tell you, I had to earn every one of those miles.  Some years ago, it seems the state parks decided it was easier for trail maintenance to use a Bobcat or something to bulldoze a 6 foot wide path where the trail used to be.  Since small dozers are not capable of both pushing earth and making tight turns, this leads to much of the trail being a series of short, but rather steep ups and downs.  Long story short, while hiking out on this state owned land, I learned about something I had not encountered before: There are a lot of trails on publicly owned land that either border or share the same areas that hunters use in the fall when looking for game.  I came across two chaps from Medford, OH who had stopped for lunch and some coffee. They graciously offered some to me and I of course accepted being that I was hiking on a fairly cool autumn day.

Through talking with them, I realized I had lucked out because my pack was a rather attentive red and I just happened to be wearing a bright orange bandana on my head.  They thanked me for the chat and for wearing “hunter’s orange” as they called it and I was on my way.  I had never thought to check before about being aware of where I was hiking during the fall hunting season.  So consider this a PSA of sorts for those who are planning some Noventures during these upcoming weeks! (“Noventures” being “November adventures”, I have the go ahead from Merriam, just waiting on Webster for the official okay on this being an acceptable word).

Here are some handy tips and tricks if you plan on going out where hunters will be this fall:

  • Wear bright orange on your head, torso or backpack so you will be visible and stand out more to hunters, don’t forget your puppy pals too if they will be joining you! If you are like me and don’t have much in the orange department, I have also worn yellow and reds.  I think the key here is just to avoid white (like a deer tail) and other earth tones.
  • While out and about, try to make noise either through song, conversation, whistling, or what have you. Something so hunters can hear you are in the area, and if you’re lucky, maybe it will enable Bambi’s mom to make it back home.
  • Don’t go out of your way to confront hunters, they have just as much right to be using the public lands as you do and courtesy goes a long way.
  • If you hear shooting, stop and make sure the hunters know you are in the vicinity. I did this once and I heard a “Sorry dude!” come from somewhere off in the distance.
  • Do your research and know when and where hunting season will be and especially find out if you will be in the same place.
  • Be extra cautious in valleys and near roadways because it seems that’s where wildlife tends to congregate. Or at least the myth perpetuated through the ages because hunter’s don’t want to trek out too far from vehicles…

That’s all the educatin’ I feel I need to do on the subject, mostly because I know so little about it! If you are ever in doubt or feel uncomfortable with going out hiking during any particular hunting season, don’t hesitate to call the managing entity’s office of where you will be hiking and ask them anything you are unsure of.  If you feel there is anything that I left out worth noting, feel free to comment on RRT’s Facebook page, email the shop, or give them a ring at the store in Milford!  I know sometimes Bryan especially wishes for more phone conversations.  Hike safe and happy my friends!