Hunting season is upon us! As a non-hunter you can assume the primary hunting season for most game animals will run mid October until Jan 1. This is an important time of year for hikers and backpackers to be alert to their environment and dress safely.
No one wants to be accidentally fired upon while on a recreational hike. If you see a hunter, don’t be shy to make noise to alert him to your presence. Don’t wave your arms around, just yell out or use a whistle. Unfortunately you usually won’t be able to see a hunter before he sees you. State regulations vary, but the hunter is usually required to wear a certain amount of bright hunter orange clothing so as to be seen by other people (called hunter orange). When bird hunting only an orange cap is required. For deer hunting a vest is also required. Most game animals either don’t see in colors very well or don’t see hunter orange as a warning sign. There is an exception though, and that is wild turkey. Turkey season is particularly dangerous because turkeys see colors very well. A hunter is allowed to be dressed entirely in camo from head to toe during turkey season.
So if you can’t rely on seeing a hunter, you should do your best to enable the hunter to see you. Obviously wearing a large amount of hunter orange is your best bet. But let’s be honest, as recreational hikers we may not have, or be willing to wear, bright orange caps, vests, or backpacks. What can you do on the cheap to be noticeable without going out of your budget?
The simplest and cheapest solution may be a hunter orange handkerchief. I bought 2 for a dollar at a dollar store. You can wear one like a bandanna around your head, tie it to the top of your backpack like an orange flag, or come up with any number of places to display it so you will be noticed. A bandanna is almost as useful as a swiss army knife and duck tape. It’s a versatile, cheap, and lightweight tool to keep on you for any hiking trip. Wipe sweat, filter sediment from water, tie to apply pressure to a wound, hold together a splint, pot holder, you name it.
Another cheap, lightweight, and versatile product is hunter orange paracord. Paracord is short for 550lb test parachute cord. Paracord can be used for damn near everything and is an essential survival tool. You usually see it in black, drab green, and camo colors but it also comes in bright hunter orange. Utilizing a simple cobra stitch as seen here:
You can do a lot with paracord. Paracord bracelets are a great emergency tool and making them in bright orange may help you get noticed. Not into bracelets? I’ve cobra stitched paracord around my backpack’s top loop, for example. Many folks like weaving paracord around knife handles, around hiking poles. Anywhere you have some open area you can weave some paracord. And who knows, that cord may save the day when you least expected to need it.
Luckily the number one protection you have is also the cheapest and best, and that’s being in a group. Humans aren’t exactly the most graceful creature in the woods and a group of humans is pretty hard to miss. If you’re sticking to known trails, you’re probably safest of all.
If you live in Massachusetts and are interested in learning more about hunting, check out the FREE hunter’s education course offered by the state. No experience is necessary and you don’t need a firearm license. Keep an eye on the following link for new courses to come up. I learned an incredible amount during this course and would highly recommend it to anyone. http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/education/hed/hed_basic_listing.htm