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Be Prepared: Hiking during Hunting Season

As fall and winter roll around, outdoor enthusiasts like me eagerly anticipate the cooler weather, making it the perfect time for spending time outdoors. However, an extra consideration during this season is the presence of hunters in the woods. Because Pennsylvania is one of the top states for hunting, it is important to be informed and take additional precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience.

Know Before You Go

Pennsylvania’s deer hunting season spans from mid-September to mid-January. However, the specific dates vary annually, depending on the type of game and weapon used. Small-game seasons extend through June. Check out the PA Game Commission’s website to familiarize yourself with the regulations and hunting seasons in the area you plan to hike before recreating outdoors.

Check The Regulations

Hunting on Sundays is prohibited in some states, but recent changes in Pennsylvania allow hunting on select Sundays, including the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Always confirm if the area you plan to recreate permits hunting. Some land managers may have stricter requirements than the state regulations, so it is advisable to check with them directly. For instance, while the PA Game Commission allows hunting on select Sundays, Allegheny Land Trust maintains a strict no-hunting policy on Sundays.

Wear Bright Colors

Visibility is key during hunting season, and wearing blaze orange or another bright color can significantly enhance your safety. On state game lands in Pennsylvania, all hunters and non-hunters are required to wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest, and back combined, or a fluorescent orange hat, from November 15 to December 15. Even when not legally required, the Game Commission highly recommends wearing fluorescent orange when in the woods during hunting season. It is recommended that dogs on the trail wear bright orange as well. This high-visibility attire ensures that you are easily seen from all angles, reducing the risk of accidents.

Exercise Caution During Deer Firearm Season

Deer firearm season is often considered the most critical time to exercise extra caution or choose hiking areas where hunting is prohibited. During this period, hunters are more active, and wearing bright colors becomes even more crucial. Be aware of the specific dates for deer firearm season and plan your outdoor activities accordingly.

Hiking during hunting season can be a rewarding experience with the right precautions in place. By knowing the hunting regulations, checking with land managers, and wearing high-visibility clothing, you can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors while staying safe.

Embrace the season, stay informed, and share the trails responsibly with fellow outdoor enthusiasts and hunters alike.

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Alyssa Crawford

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