CONCORD, NH – Autumn is approaching and its the perfect time of year to be in the woods: the leaves are changing, the weather is cooler, and the biting bugs are almost gone. There is also plenty of opportunity to see wildlife as those animals that remain in New Hampshire, and those species that migrate south, prepare for their cold-weather transitions. Sunday, September 1 is the beginning of fall hunting seasons in the Granite State, and as we progress into the popular deer season, here are some tips to help all outdoor enthusiasts have a safe and enjoyable this fall:
1. Be aware of your surroundings. This seems like common sense, but remembering and acknowledging that it is hunting season will improve your awareness. Know the dates of hunting seasons in your area by looking them up online in the annual NH Fish and Game Hunting Digest: www.huntnh.com/ hunting/publications.html. Many hunting seasons, especially firearms seasons, are much shorter in duration than most people realize.
2. Pick the right trail. During the fall, stick to established hiking trails. Hunters generally avoid heavily used hiking paths because activity in the woods usually frightens game species. As a result, hunters will be situated deeper in the woods. The noise and foot traffic on main trails is not an ideal place to hunt.
3. Pick the right time. Legal hunting times in New Hampshire for most game run from 1/2-hour before sunrise to 1/2-hour after sunset. Wildlife, and consequently hunters, are most active at dawn and dusk. Midday hikes when light conditions are optimal are best for the fall. You are also much less likely to run into a hunter during mid-week hikes because most hunting takes place on weekends.
4. Wear hunter orange. Anyone who enjoys the outdoors in New Hampshire should already own a piece of bright “blaze” orange clothing, and fall is the time to wear it. An orange hat, handkerchief, vest, or shirt is a must for this time of year. This will make you more visible to anyone in the woods. Don’t forget to put some orange on the family dog.
5. Make some noise. Talk, sing, or whistle to make your presence known in the woods. Chances are good that anyone in your vicinity has already heard you, and the singing will make you more noticeable. This is great advice for any time of year, and placing a bell on your dog’s collar is another excellent way to make continuous noise during a hike.
6. Hike safe. Be sure to follow the hiker responsibility code by being knowledgeable about where you are going and what the local weather and terrain conditions are there, leaving your plans with someone, staying together, turning back in inclement weather or if you are running out of daylight, and planning for emergencies. Visit www.hikesafe.com for more information.
Fall is a great time to get outside, and with these tips we can all enjoy and share the outdoors safely. For more information on hiking, visit www.wildnh.com/outdoor-recreation/hiking-safety.html.