Why You Should Consider Wearing Orange This Month
This post originally appeared on the Washington Trails Association's blog. Outdoor Research is a proud partner of the WTA.
Fall is the height of hunting season in Washington—and lots of other states. It's a spectacular time to enjoy hiking trails in Washington, but hiking during any hunting season requires a little extra caution, and maybe a bit more orange in your outdoors wardrobe. Here are some tips to stay safe on trails during hunting season, the first of which is to know when and where you might encounter hunters on your hikes:
Know when hunting seasons are. Bear season begins in August, followed by grouse, deer and several other species in September. October is the high point of hunting season, which continues all the way into December. Check more hunting season dates here.
Wear bright clothing. Make yourself more visible. Choose colors that stand out, like red, orange or pink, and avoid blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing. Autumn rains are beginning to return, too, which makes a safety-orange backpack cover a purchase that will come in handy long past hunting season.
If you hike with a dog, keep your pup on leash and consider having them wear a brightly-colored pack, coat or an old, orange t-shirt. If your dog tends to startle at loud sounds (like thunder), a leash may also prevent a scared, runaway dog if you happen to hear gunshots.
Make yourself known. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation as you walk to alert hunters to your presence. Sound carries well across mountain basins, and hunters should be listening for any sounds of animal movement. If you do hear shooting, raise your voice and let hunters know that you are in the vicinity.
Be courteous. Whether you're a hiker, a mushroom forager, an angler or a hunter, we can all help create a positive trail culture. Say hello, and once a hunter is aware of your presence, don’t make unnecessary noise to disturb wildlife.
Know your own comfort level. If hiking in areas where hunting is allowed makes you uneasy, choose a hike in a location where hunting is not allowed, such as a national park or a state park. See some suggestions below.
Learn about Washington's many different public lands. Washington state has thousands of trails, and they wander across many different kinds of lands. Those lands may be managed locally, by cities or counties, by a state agency or by a federal agency. The upside of all those different kinds of lands? Plenty of places to have different kinds of hiking and outdoor experiences. The downside? Different land management agencies have different mandates, and navigating both the rules and permits of different lands can be pretty confusing. Unlocking the mystery of which public lands you're hiking on can be an empowering step to becoming a more experienced hiker.
If you'd rather not hike on lands where hunting is allowed, plan your outdoor adventures on city trails, at Washington State Parks or within the National Park boundaries of North Cascades National Park, Olympic National Park or Mount Rainier National Park.
Below are a few places to get started:
Photo by Andrew Burr.