Hunters and Hikers Can Get Along Just Fine

Are you planning a hiking trip to a national forest, state forest, or wildlife management anytime in the next few weeks? Are you planning a hunting trip on those same lands? If so, you need to be aware that hikers and hunters often share space during the fall season. Learn about the other group and do what you can to be cognizant of their activities. Hunters and hikers can get along just fine with a little education and the right attitude.

It is not unusual for hunters and hikers to be at odds over having to share the same space during the fall. Hunters sometimes begrudge hikers for ostensibly interfering with the hunt, while hikers can be skeptical of the hunter’s right to be on public lands. Both sides should step back and breathe a little bit. Both have a right to be on public lands, and both have a responsibility to respect the other.

hunter walking on the forest road

Tips for Hunters

Hunters have a larger responsibility because they are carrying and using weapons. When accidents do happen between hunters and hikers, hunters almost always are subject to greater scrutiny in terms of things such as carelessness and safe weapon handling. Therefore, hunters are urged to take great care when hunting on public land.

Here are some important tips for hunters:

  • Do not assume movement equals animals
  • Be 100% positive before firing
  • If there is any doubt, do not fire
  • Hunt in groups (more hunters means more eyes)
  • Take extra precautions at dawn and dusk.

The American Hunting Lease Association says that insurance for hunters is also a very wise idea. Hunters can buy insurance for leased lands or individual hunting excursions on public lands. Why buy a policy? Because insurance for hunters protects individuals against significant financial loss in the event of an accident that causes injury or property damage. To go without hunting insurance is just as foolish as driving without car insurance.

Tips for Hikers

Hikers should never make the mistake of assuming they will always be seen. They should also avoid harassing hunters, which is illegal in most states. Hunters have as much right to be on public lands as hikers unless specifically restricted by state or federal regulations.

Here are some important tips for hikers:

  • Wear blaze orange or neon green clothing
  • Avoid browns, tans, blacks, and whites (these colors can be confusing to hunters)
  • Avoid hiking at dawn or dusk (when animals and hunters are more active)
  • Stay on marked trails at all times
  • Keep dogs on a leash (do not allow them to wander)
  • If you are ever in doubt for your safety, scream and shout (use words).

Hikers should be especially sensitive to the fact that private landowners often lease their land to hunters during the fall and spring months. If hikers do not have permission to be on private land, they should not be there. Otherwise they are risking their safety.

Know the Hunting Seasons

Last but not least, both hikers and hunters should be very familiar with local hunting seasons. Deer season is typically in late fall, and it tends to be the busiest time for hunters. That might be a time to stay away from public lands during the early morning and late afternoon hours.

Other game can be hunted during different seasons depending on location. The more hikers and hunters know about seasons, the better able they will be to look out for one another. Remember, hunters and hikers can get along just fine if they want to.

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