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Even a simple walk in the woods can have hazards. A few precautions (such as wearing bright orange clothing) can help keep you safe. Photo by Cynthia Hochswender

Think Pink (and Orange) During Hunting Season

Hiking

Autumn is a time when I think of the color orange,not only because of the falling leaves and not only because I associate the fall and winter months with eating citrus fruit but also because it is now hunting season and it’s important to wear orange if you’re out in the woods.

Connecticut and New York state offer slightly different advice to hikers, dog walkers, paddlers, anglers, equestrians and anyone else who is outdoors at this time of year. Connecticut just says to wear (fluorescent) orange. New York says you can also wear (fluorescent) pink.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) tip sheet offers the moderately encouraging information that, “Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot.” Presumably this applies as well to everyone who’s out in the woods.

The DEC also says that, “wearing bright colors makes it easier for Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police Officers and other rescue personnel to find lost, sick or injured people afield.”

Many of us like to take our dogs out for a walk in the woods at this time of year, but if anything, pets are even more at risk during hunting season than their owners.

Therefore, the New York DEC says, “Pet owners are encouraged to dress their dogs in blaze orange or pink or another bright color vest or scarf. Dogs should also stay leashed at all times.”

Keeping your dog on a leash will also help keep it from getting caught in a trap.

For hunters, there are specific rules about how much blaze pink and blaze orange you should wear, and those same guidelines work for anyone else out in the woods at this time of year.

In New York the guidance is: “a shirt, jacket or vest with at least 250 square inches of solid or patterned fluorescent orange or pink (the pattern must be at least 50% orange or pink) OR a hat with at least 50% fluorescent orange or pink.”

In Connecticut, “400 square inches of fluorescent orange are required for hunters,” and you should “avoid wearing gray, brown, tan or white when hiking in hunted areas.”

Cyclists and riders are encouraged to put a bell on their bike or horse. Hikers are encouraged to call out and identify themselves if they see or hear hunters nearby.

Newcomers to the area — and visitors who are only here on a day trip to enjoy our area trails, rivers and forests — might not realize that there is quite a bit of hunting around here. The New York DEC says hunting is “among the most popular forms of wildlife recreation in the state, drawing an estimated 600,000 New Yorkers.”

COVID-19 has also brought more people to the area, seeking a way to be out in the fresh air and (theoretically) away from the close contact with other people that is hard to avoid in urban areas.

As a result, this hunting season there is likely to be more overlap in the woods, of people who are hunting and people seeking other types of outdoor activities (and who might not realize that this is hunting season).

The schedules for the different seasons and types of hunting are complicated but, essentially, hunting started in late October and will continue through December. It won’t end in December, but there will be less of it.

Most hunters go out around 9 a.m. and/or in the late afternoon, especially but not exclusively on Saturdays and holidays.

This year, Connecticut is also warning anyone out in the woods to be aware of falling trees and limbs.

“Look up and watch out for hazardous trees while in forested areas. Several years of storms, drought and insect infestations have severely damaged a significant number of Connecticut’s trees. A ‘hazard tree’ has a structural defect that makes it likely to fail in whole or in part. Such a tree can fall without warning.”

For a full list of safety tips for the state of Connecticut, go to https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Hunting/Outdoor-Safety-Tips. For New York, go to  www.dec.ny.gov/press/121768.html.

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