Autumn is finally here, and with it comes the lure of going on a hike to enjoy the beautiful foliage. However, it is important to remember the majority of the trails reviewed here by Living With a Golden, are also popular hunting locations. But with a little advance planning, you can still safely enjoy the great dog friendly trails Maine and New Hampshire have to offer.
Avoid wearing certain colors that could be mistaken for game. A flash of white may look like the white of a deer’s tail. Colors such as brown and white during deer and bear season is not a good idea. During turkey season don’t wear red or blue. Instead, follow hunting dress regulations when choosing an outfit for your hike. Items of blaze-orange clothing that are visible from all directions are best. Fluorescent orange caps, jackets, and vests make you visible to hunters. These are readily available at most major retail stores.
More importantly don’t forget to have your dog wear a blaze-orange vest when hitting the trails. Pet stores carry a variety of options for dogs from vests, to jackets, to bandanas, to collars. Your dog may not be pleased to have to suddenly dress up, but that orange glow will keep your dog from being mistaken as wildlife. For our dogs, just the sight of their blaze-orange vests get them excited that we are about to go on an adventure.
Although most people head to the woods for peace and quiet, make noise! Never try to hike quietly during hunting season. By making noise, you will let the hunter know that you are in the area. We attach a bell to our dogs’ collars; and tend to whistle, talk, and even bust into song. Ok, so maybe singing isn’t the best option, but it’s a great way to make sure that your presence is known. Also if you hear hunters in the area, or hear shots, speak up. A loud “Hikers on the Trail!” will politely make everyone aware of your presence.
Hunters generally know where hiking trails are located and try to avoid those areas, so please stick to established trails. Although rare, another reason to stay on the trail is to avoid traps hunters may have set in the underbrush. If your dog is prone to blazing new paths, it may be wise to leash the dog up during fall hikes. Also avoid peak hunting times, usually at sunrise and sunset, when the deer are most active.
Be aware of your surroundings. If you notice other vehicles in the parking lot, don’t assume they are on a leisurely hike. Another good indication that hunters are in the area are vehicles parked along the road in random locations.
Finally the day of the week you go hiking does matter. In Maine and Massachusetts, there is no hunting on Sundays. But please be aware that hunting is allowed on Sundays in New Hampshire.
By taking safety precautions you and your dogs can enjoy the great hiking trails and beautiful foliage that Autumn in New England has to offer. Happy Hiking!