We’ve spoken in the past about the health benefits of hunting. For some people, it’s the only good reason to spend time outdoors during chilly weather.
In addition to the benefit of eating local meat, wild meat is lower in fat and often higher in protein. It’s free of antibiotics. You lower your carbon footprint by not relying on farms. You help overpopulation if you’re participating in a cull. While you need to handle the meat with proper food safety, it can be excellent for your diet! Plus, hunting is a great form of exercise with walking and being outdoors. It’s good for your body and spirit.
The problem with hunting is the safety concern for folks out walking and hiking during hunting season. The good news is deaths aren’t common. In 2007, Hunter Incident Clearinghouse reported 239 firearm-related incidents in all U.S., 19 of which resulted in fatalities. Obviously, we would prefer that no one was shot. Steps can be taken to make everyone safer.
The first step to being safer is knowing what is in season and what your dangers might be. Then you should learn which parks in your area don’t allow hunting. If you stick to parks where hunting is forbidden, you’ll be much safer. Also, when in parks where it is allowed, look for signs. Many parks don’t allow hunting near trails. On the other hand, some trails will be closed to hikers for the use of hunters.
Wearing high-vis colors help you stand out to hunters and prevent you from being a target. And if you have a pet with you, make sure they are wearing a safety vest so they aren’t mistaken for a forest animal. Hunters are most active at dawn and dusk; it’s also when hikers are least visible. We suggest hikers avoid trails at those times. And we suggest sticking to paths for safety.
One of the big tips we see a lot is to make noise so hunters know where you are. That is an excellent safety tip. But it also scares off animals. While that’s good for predators, it’s terrible for hunting. At this time of year, we’re reminded more than ever that we have to share parks. Sometimes sharing doesn’t mean being in the same place simultaneously; it means knowing when it’s your turn to use the land. So that hunters can get the most out of their experience and hikers can enjoy themselves safely, we suggest completely avoiding parks where hunting is permitted if you aren’t hunting. National parks and city parks generally don’t allow hunting. There are plenty of beautiful spots where you aren’t in danger of being mistaken for an animal and won’t scare off a deer someone else is aiming for.
For everyone to enjoy themselves fully this fall, we suggest going to a park that best suits your needs. However, high-vis jackets are a wonderful idea even outside of hunting season. They make you easier to spot should you have an accident and need assistance from fellow hikers or rescue workers.
We hope everyone has a safe, fun time outdoors this fall, no matter how you use the land!