What to Watch For on Hikes during Hunting Season

Keep these dog-friendly safety tips in mind when going for a seasonal hike with your pooch.

The leaves are falling, ushering in fall hunting season. Most hunters are responsible and are dedicated to the sport. Even though they’re professionals, accidents can happen, and it’s up to you to do your part to keep safe. Before you head out on that hike, be prepared with tips to keep the both of you safe:

Wear Orange

Don’t try to blend in with the leaves—we’re talking about donning a bright, shiny orange vest so that hunters will see you coming. If you decide to take the path less travelled, a hunter will be able to spot you, and move on as you continue your walk. To make sure your big, brown dog doesn’t get mistaken for game, put a vest on him as well.

Leash Law

It may be tempting to let your dog run free in the woods, but during hunting season, you need to keep him close to you and under control. Consider the sound of gunshot and what your dog might do if he’s startled by the sound. If he bolts, it’ll be another kind of hunting expedition. And a leash will keep your dog from doing his own hunting, especially if he smells or sees the local wildlife. Animals such as wolves or coyotes can be shot in certain areas, and your off-leash dog might be mistaken for one.

Time to Hike

This is the season to “fall back” when it comes to the time of day you should hike with your dog. Plan your hikes for the middle of the day, because wild animals are most active at dawn and dusk, which means so are hunters. It’s the perfect excuse to sleep in and not feel bad about it!

What’s in season?

Certain animals are only allowed to be hunted at certain times of the year. Is it duck season? You should stay away from wet, marshy areas. If it’s deer season, you’ll be sure to find hunters around their feeding areas, located on edge of fields that offer good cover. During deer season, you should stick to local conservation areas, and steer clear of the woods.

Meat and Eat

Hunters field dress the animals they shoot right then and there. Pieces can get left behind, and your dog may pick up on the smell, thinking it’s a free meal. But you don’t know what’s in the meat. It could contain pathogens or bacteria that can lead to an upset stomach. Keep your dog away from these scraps, because there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Watch for traps.

Hunters not only use guns; they may also use traps. Bear traps are the most common traps, designed to kill quickly. You don’t want your dog to accidentally to step into one. That’s why the best way to avoid trouble is by keeping your dog on a leash.

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

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