A Hiker and Biker Guide to Hunting Season: How to Stay Safe (and still enjoy public land!)

October 08, 2017

A Hiker and Biker Guide to Hunting Season: How to Stay Safe (and still enjoy public land!)

As fall arrives, the weather cools, the bugs and the obvious presence of snakes diminish, and outdoor enthusiasts flock to the woods on the weekends to enjoy beautiful environments. Many hikers and bikers will say that this is the best time of year to enjoy public lands in the Northeast.

Many hunters also agree that fall is their favorite time of year, as this is the most popular season for hunting. In some areas of Pennsylvania, big game season officially begins the last weekend of September. While there are several publications to sift through regarding hunting regulations, we know you probably won't go out of your way to read those. Once fall arrives, it's a good idea to assume hunters will be sharing the woods with you while you are engaged in your outdoor adventures (except on Sundays!). Since Purple Lizard Maps wants everyone to enjoy the woods and safely, we thought a quick public service announcement regarding general risk mitigation practices during hunting season might be helpful:   

Step 1: Wear Blaze Orange

Not red, not yellow, but blaze orange. Seriously, it's the best way to go. Pennsylvania State Gamelands, by law, require all visitors to wear 250 square inches of blaze orange during certain hunting seasons. In Pennsylvania State Forests this is just a suggestion...but why not just go for 250 square inches nonetheless and call it good? What is 250 square inches? Generally speaking, this is at least a hat and a vest.

Pro tip: Keep your blaze orange Lizard hat on at all times. A vest on a backpack doesn't help much when you take off the backpack and walk off trail to squat in the woods in deep underbrush...

Winter Camping on the Black Forest Trail

Step 2: Realize that hunters don't always have to wear blaze orange.

Yep that's right, some game species can see colors, so hunters aren't always required to wear blaze orange. What does this mean for you? Make your presence known, in a polite manner, when enjoying public lands. There's no need to enjoy lunch in the middle of no where beside a well-camouflaged hunter that you can't see even though they are 10 yards from your resting spot.

Fall Backpacking on Bohen Run Trail

Step 3: Be considerate of others.

We all want to use public lands and we want these lands to remain open for public use. Hunters prefer dawn and dusk, because this is typically when most game species are most active. Try to avoid these times of day. Also, be sure to make eye contact, maybe even a friendly wave, when a hunter is spotted. They see you, you see them, you proceed quietly past their spot, and all parties continue to enjoy their experience in the woods.

Bald Eagle State Forest

 Step 4: Protect your Pets.

It's also a great idea to outfit your pets with blaze orange. You must keep pets under close control and on leash during hunting season. If nothing else, you don't want your dog eating, rolling, or in any way, enjoying the remnants of a harvested animal.

 Dog wearing blaze orange bandana

Step 5: Get out there and enjoy safely!

Fall and early winter are magical in the northeastern US. Bring some warm clothes, your Purple Lizard Map, and your best blaze orange!

Black Forest Trail