It’s Hunting Season – Stay Alive And Stay Safe!

By Joe Miele

When the hot, humid months of summer make way for the crisp, cool weather of autumn, many people head outdoors to enjoy activities such as camping, hiking, and wildlife watching. There is no better way to enjoy what nature can teach us than actually to get outside and explore.

Unfortunately, there are hunters with itchy trigger fingers who also will be outdoors with you, and because one mistake of theirs could end or devastate your life you must take precautions to ensure that you will not fall victim to some drunken or drug-crazed yahoo who is out getting their kicks from blasting away at helpless animals.

While it is incumbent upon the hunter to know where he is and to positively identify his target, we all know that this is not always the way it works. Too many innocent people are killed or injured every year because a hunter saw movement through the trees and decided to shoot. Because a bullet or arrow cannot be taken back once shot, it behooves us to do all we can to ensure our own safety and not leave our lives up to the split-second decisions made by Elmer Fudd.

Here are a few tips that can keep you safe from a hunter who might otherwise mistake you for a squirrel:

Know where you are. Before you go on your hike or camping trip, know where you are, where you will be going, and where hunting is allowed.  If you stay away from places that are heavily hunted (check with your state DNR to determine where these areas are) your chances of becoming the victim of a hunting accident are minimized. One other bit of advice: stay on designated trails and in designated camping areas. Sure, it’s fun to go off exploring where no man has gone before, but wildlife do that, too. If you don’t want to be mistaken for wildlife, don’t do what they do.

Make noise as you walk. Talk with your friends while hiking. Since wildlife do not speak in human languages, it is unlikely that a hunter will shoot at you if he can hear you conversing with someone else.

Be active during the day and not so much at dawn and dusk. Though hunters are out in the daylight hours, dawn and dusk are when animals are more likely to be on the move and become vulnerable. Camp for the evening before the sun goes down and don’t venture out until the sun is shining brightly in the sky.

Use your head when choosing what to wear. A white t-shirt worn during hunting season is a death wish, and don’t flash white toilet paper, either (no, I’m not kidding). Anything that might look like a deer’s tail is a no-no to wear when out in the woods. Wear some sort of reflective clothing, and some blaze orange if you have it. Yeah, I know that beige coat and white mittens your significant other gave you for your birthday looks fabulous on you, but leave it at home this time. Sure, I can hear you now: “Joe, who are you to be telling me what to wear?” Fine, don’t take my advice, but when you come home looking like a block of Swiss cheese don’t come crying to me.

If hiking with a dog, do not allow him/her to run off-leash. Sure, Fido might want to run freely when he gets outside, but do you really want some drunken idiot putting an arrow through his lungs because he thought he was a deer? Put an orange vest on Fido and a bell on his collar. Doing this might save his life, and yours.

It’s insane that we have to protect ourselves against becoming victims listed on the C.A.S.H. Hunting Accidents web page (found at http://all-creatures.org/cash/accident-center.html ), but the truth is that we cannot be sure that the hunters lurking in the woods know what they are doing. In fact, given the statistics, we can be sure that many of them do not!  Thankfully, it does not happen often that a hunter shoots a hiker or camper, but one can never be too careful. By following the tips mentioned above, we’re doing our best at staying safe while enjoying the outdoors that we love so much.
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Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561
845/256-1400