7 Dog-Friendly Safety Tips For Hunting Season
It’s fall, which means it’s the perfect time to go for a hike in the woods. But it’s also prime hunting season. Avid outdoorsman Kevin Roberts wants you to keep these dog-friendly safety tips in mind when going for an autumn hike with your pooch.
It’s time to signal in the start of the fall hunting season. The vast majority of hunters I know are responsible ambassadors for their sports. Conflicts between dog owners and hunters are rare, but accidents do occasionally happen, and it is up to both parties to do their part to remain safe. If you and your dog are planning on spending time in the bush this fall, whether or not you’ll be doing any hunting, be prepared and be safe. Here are a few tips to remember while out in the woods:
Keep your dog on a leash. Keeping your dog close by and under control is best done with a leash. Many dogs are scared of the sudden loud bangs of gun shots, so a leash will prevent them from bolting if they are startled. A leash is also going to stop your dog from chasing wildlife. Many areas have bounties on coyotes and wolves, allowing them to be shot on sight. Some areas also have law allowing dogs to be shot if they are harassing game animals. Leash your dog if you love him! If you feel a leash cramps your style, consider going hands free hiking by using a trekking belt.
Know what’s in season. By paying attention to what game are being hunted in the area you plan to hike, you can avoid many of the hunters. If duck season has just opened, stay away from wet, marshy areas. Deer hunters are going to frequent area around feeding areas, which are on the edge of fields that offer good cover. That’s when you want to avoid farm country and stick to local conservation areas.
Hike in the middle of the day. All summer you’ve headed out for walks and hikes early in the day to avoid the worst of the heat. Now that fall is here, you have permission to sleep in! Wild animals are most active at dawn and dusk, which means so are hunters. By avoiding these peak times, you’ll be avoiding the majority of the hunting activity.
Wear orange. We all know that orange is the new black, but by donning a shiny orange vest, you make yourself and your dog more visible to hunters in the woods. If a hunter catches a glimpse of movement in the bush, orange is much easier to spot and dismiss as a human out walking a dog. We realize that it’s not the most stylish fashion option, but you aren’t pounding the cat walk – you’re only taking the dog for a walk!
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Hunters who harvest animals for their meat dress the animal in the field. That means as soon as they have shot the animal, they begin to butcher it. There are parts left behind that may not be used, or small scraps that are missed. Your dog has a keen nose and will likely find a leg bone or a small piece of sinew. Even if you are far from the kill site, ravens, crows, foxes and racoons might drop a piece of raw meat on the trail. Wild game is just that: wild. There may be pathogens or bacteria present on the raw meat that can lead to an upset stomach or even death. Keep an eye on your dog, and avoid letting them sample anything they might find on the trail.
It’s a trap!: Hunting season isn’t just about bows and guns – trapping season is also afoot. Conibear traps are the most common traps, designed to kill quickly. This means you have little chance of rescuing your dog should they fall victim by stepping into one. Again, the best way to avoid trouble is by keeping your dog on a leash.
Know the rules: Know where hunting and trapping is allowed, and you will know how to them. In many parks these activities are not allowed, so check your local laws. If you’re in doubt, call or check in with a conservation officer to steer you to an area where hunting is not permitted.