|Pay attention to signs prohibiting hiking, especially in fall and winter months, as it could be closed off due to hunting.|
The family of four froze in their tracks, as a doe bounded across the trail and landed in a stiff stance, and stared at the hikers. The father slowly raised his camera to grab a photo. The camera shutter was barely released and the doe was again on the move and soon out of sight. The family chuckled and shared a few words on how cool it was to be so close to a wild animal. The hikers started on down the trail when another commotion stopped them once again, coming from where the doe had come from. A white-tailed buck came crashing through the brush with no intention of slowing down — headed directly at the hikers.
Startled, the father yelled, “Hey deer!” and the buck juked right and left and was out of sight within a second. The close call was exciting for the hikers and after a few minutes, the family agreed this was truly a one-on-one with the wild, hiking adventure. The four hikers pulled their water bottles and decided it was a good time for a break. From the direction the deer came from, a man dressed in camo and sporting a blaze-orange vest topped the ridge. With a rifle in hand, it was soon apparent to the hikers that they were sharing the woods that day with a deer hunter. The hunter spotted the hikers and gave a wave. The hikers waved back and the hunter approached.
The father informed the hunter that two deer just crossed their path. The hunter was tracking the deer and was not surprised to learn of the deer sighting. What did surprise the hunter, and the hikers, that both didn’t know the other would be in the woods at the same time. The hunter informed them that he was hunting with two others, flanking his right and left, so to make them known as they hiked through the woods. The hikers didn’t realize that the trail passed through a designated wildlife area and it was hunting season. The trail was open and hiking was permitted at the time, but a few cautions were surely overlooked.
When hiking during hunting season, even on properties that are closed to hunting, take precautions to be visible at all times. Hikers should always consider the possibility that a hunter is sharing the forest and fields during the fall and winter months. Hunters are normally camouflaged and hidden. The occasional hunting accident occurs when a hunter mistakes a human walking through the woods, for an animal that the hunter is searching for. Hikers should wear bright clothing and don’t be too silent while walking. If wildlife photography is your added pursuit while hiking, and like the hunter, stealth is required, at least a small patch of bright orange should be worn. Obviously, a prize-winning photo is not worth losing a life over.
The natural resources are enjoyed by various types of adventurers involved with various pursuits. Some of which can create a dangerous situation when paths are crossed — unless done so with caution in mind and constant awareness of what, and who, is or may be, around the next bend and beyond.