Ask Outdoors Girl

December 11, 2010

Adam Marton, an avid hiker and biker, writes: I am curious what expectation hunters have of trail users in recreational areas during hunting season. Last weekend I was in a pretty remote section of Prettyboy Reservoir, where I have seen crossbow hunters in the past. Are hunters expecting hikers to be wearing orange vests or otherwise identifying themselves as something not to shoot? Are there other precautions that hikers should take? In addition, it is not very crowded in the woods this time of year and I occasionally see people who I suspect are poachers, as I did a few weeks ago at PenMar Park. Should I report these folks to someone?

Outdoors Girl replies: Hikers are not obligated to take any extraordinary safety measures during hunting season. The onus is on the hunter to do the right thing. That said, I try to do everything I can to ensure my own safety. An orange hat or inexpensive orange safety vest should do the trick. I have, and use, both. The one thing you absolutely don't want to do is wear light-colored gloves that could look like a white-tailed deer's, um, tail. In 1988, a Maine woman was shot and killed in her own backyard because an experienced hunter mistook her white mittens for the tail of a white-tailed deer. Despite the fact that he violated one of the basic rules of shooting — be sure of your target and what is behind it — the jury did not convict him of manslaughter. Be aware of your surroundings and rely on the one person you can trust: you. If you suspect you've seen a poacher, call the Department of Natural Resource's 24-hour, toll-free number: 1-800-635-6124.

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