Hiking Safely During Hunting Season

September 28, 2020

Wear blaze orange for added visibility from September through at least mid-December. (photo © Dave Butler)

Wear blaze orange for added visibility from September through at least mid-December.  (photo © Dave Butler)

Sharing the Woods: Tips for Hiking During Hunting Season

Crisp air, breathtaking foliage, and the blessed end of mosquitoes: autumn is arguably the best time of year to go for a walk in the woods. It’s also prime time for hunting in New Hampshire. While it’s only natural to feel nervous about hiking during hunting season, hunters and hikers have been safely sharing the woods for many years. Here’s what you need to know to hike safe this fall:

  1. Know what season it is. In New Hampshire, hunting seasons vary by species, method, and location, with some seasons lasting just a week or two. Plan accordingly by checking the hunting dates for your area on the New Hampshire Fish and Game website. (Most of the Monadnock Region falls into Wildlife Management Unit H2.) If the weather is good, youth hunting weekends and the first weekend of deer firearm season are likely to be very busy.
  2. Wear blaze orange. Deer cannot see the color orange, but people can. Make yourself visible to hunters by wearing a blaze orange vest, hat, jacket, or all three. The more orange, the better – and don’t forget a vest for your dog!
  3. Stay on established trails. Foot traffic found along popular hiking trails can spook wildlife, so hunters generally stick to deeper, quieter woods. Save your bushwhacking for snow or summer, and stick to well-used trails for safety in the fall.
  4. Avoid twilight hikes. Deer – and therefore hunters – are most active at dusk and dawn. Hiking at mid-day and in bright sunshine will minimize your chances of crossing paths with hunters. Daytime hikes also make for great leaf peeping!
  5. Make some noise. Talk, sing, or whistle to make your presence known to hunters, and to distinguish yourself from the wild sounds (rustling, footsteps, scratching) made by their quarry. If you hike with dogs, place bells on their collars to help them stand out.

For more information on New Hampshire’s hunting seasons and how to hike safe at any time of year, visit wildlife.state.nh.us.