Hike Safely During Hunting Season

Posted on August 26, 2008


Hike Safely During Hunting Season


Fall is a great season to be on the trails in Western New York.  However, during the fall hunting season the trails that cross public lands in Allegheny, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua counties are shared with hunters.  Although hunting is not allowed on any public land in Erie County, that when may adjoin private land on which hunting is taking place.


In the southwestern counties of New York, there will be hunters in the woods hunting deer and black bear from October 18 through December 16.  But hunting season is no reason to avoid an enjoyable fall hike.  For those of us who hunt and hike, we have a double reason to be in the woods during this extraordinary season.


Hikers and hunters alike should take precautions to avoid accidents particularly when using multi-use areas.  The simplest method is to wear a blaze orange hat and jacket or a vest.  If wearing a backpack and inexpensive blaze orange vest can be tied onto the pack to be visible from the back and sides of the hiker.


Accidents can happen.  Hunters must be sensitive to the phenomena of closure, by which the mind completes a picture that the eye only partially sees.  This phenomenon accounts for many optical illusions in which the viewer is convinced they are seeing something that does not really exist.  The same phenomena can cause a hunter to see a deer or bear when actually viewing a human in the distance.


Hunters need to exercise self-discipline in identifying game to avoid mistakes arising from the phenomena of closure.  Unfortunately the excitement of the hunt can cloud the judgment of a hunter.  This is not an excuse for a hunter who mistakenly shoots a human, but it is a known risk that can be significantly reduced by hikers displaying an appropriate amount of blaze orange.  Not wearing blaze orange while in multi-use areas during hunting season is like not wearing a seatbelt in rush hour traffic.

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