Picture this: you’re out hiking in a group with some friends when suddenly, a shower of bullets appears out of nowhere and narrowly misses your group. You’re terrified because it could have been fatal, and now you don’t want to go hiking ever again.
If this simple scenario sounds like something that has happened to you or might happen in the future, you’re right to be alarmed. Avoiding getting shot when hiking during hunting season is important because your life is at stake!
In this guide, we’re going to walk you through a list of tips on how not to get shot when hiking during hunting season. Spoiler alert: our tips include more than just wearing brightly colored clothing!
Do Hikers Get Shot During Hunting Season?
Yes. While it isn’t common, hikers do sometimes get shot by hunters. If you look at hunting accident stats, approximately 1000 people are shot by hunters with about 75 of these people dying from their injuries. Most of these accidents could have been avoided by taking the precautions below.
How Not to Get Shot as a Hiker During Hunting Season
1. Don’t hike in deer-heavy areas.
Since deer is one of the most commonly hunted animals, it’s a good idea not to hunt in an area that has a high deer population. Don’t carry snacks that attract deer. If you do, you run the risk of deer coming to you, and getting shot because a hunter might not be able to distinguish between you and the deer!
2. Wear brightly colored clothing.
While this tip is the most commonly found online, it is worth repeating! Many hikers forget to dress appropriately during hunting season, choosing colors that camouflage them from hunters and prey. Therefore, if you’re hiking during hunting season, wear bright neon colors like orange, pink, and yellow. These bright colors will help hunters far away distinguish between their prey and someone going for a hike in the woods.
3. Use a colorful backpack or rucksack.
In addition to wearing colorful clothing, it’s also a good idea to use a colorful backpack or hiking rucksack. The reason for doing this is that it will help hunters distinguish between you and the animals in the area. If your backpack is a neutral color and it’s dark, there’s a chance that a hunter might think you’re a bear from a distance. Therefore, using colorful luggage prevents you from getting shot.
4. Don’t hike when it is dark.
Hunters typically hunt early in the morning, late in the afternoon, or early in the evening. It can be hard to tell what anything is in the dark, so a hunter might mistake you for some type of game in the shadows and shoot you. Therefore, hike when the sun is high in the sky to avoid getting shot.
5. Make loud noises.
Since hunters can distinguish between how humans and animals sound, it’s a great idea to make loud noises to let them know that you’re nearby. You could sing or talk loudly, and this will let them know that there are humans close to them that they should not shoot. This is also good for keeping bears away while you hike.
6. Hike in non-hunting areas.
Definitely don’t hike in areas typically reserved for hunting. You’ll also need to avoid hiking in areas that are frequented by hunters. Ask your local ranger or hunting association for which areas are most popular and should be avoided.
7. Know the season.
It’s also important to know how the hunting season works. This means that you need to know what animals hunt in which areas, and the largest group of hunters is most likely to be. Learn about what the hunting season looks like in a particular area and once you know what the season looks like, it will help you avoid getting shot during hunting season.
8. Know when and where hunting is allowed.
Hunting season does not last all year round. Learn about when the season starts and the areas where hunters typically hunt. Once you’ve figured this out, you can either avoid those areas completely or you could be more cautious when hiking in them.
The FWS searchable hunting map has this info.
9. Don’t hike off the trails.
When you’re hiking, it’s important to stick to the trails for a couple of different reasons. One, it’s safer for you and prevents you from getting lost, even if you’re an experienced hiker. Aside from that, hunters often go in search of game by leaving the trail, so there’s a chance that you risk getting shot.
10. Keep your pets on a leash.
Regardless of what type of pet you hike with, make sure that you never let them off the leash. Doing so could be dangerous for your pets because hunters might mistake your dog or cat for a different animal and could shoot them. Therefore, keep your pets safe by keeping them on a leash.