On October 31, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) encouraged outdoor enthusiasts to respectfully share the woods and follow safety precautions this fall and winter. Hikers, nature photographers, leaf peepers, and mountain bikers are encouraged to follow safety measures while hunters and trappers are afield. Regular big game hunting season in the Northern Zone began Oct. 21 and closes Dec. 3. Bowhunting season for deer and bear is ongoing in the Southern Zone and ends at the beginning of the regular firearms season on Nov. 18.
Tips for hikers and hunters venturing afield this fall include:
- Tell someone intended destinations and return times. If plans change, notify them;
- Dress for the weather; account for both location and elevation changes;
- Become familiar with planned hiking trails or hunting areas;
- Wear bright clothing; blaze orange or blaze pink. Bright colors allow hikers and hunters to be seen more easily and from farther away; and,
- Pack the 10 Essentials, especially a light source, map, and first aid kit.
For more tips on sharing the woods this fall, check out this recent DEC video.
While hunting-related shooting incidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare, DEC encourages all outdoor adventurers to be aware of the presence of others enjoying New York’s natural resources. Hikers should be aware they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Hunters are fellow outdoor recreationists and hunting is permitted on Forest Preserve and Conservation Easement lands. Hunters should likewise recognize they may encounter hikers and others enjoying the outdoors.
Hunting is among the most popular forms of wildlife recreation in the state, drawing an estimated 600,000 New Yorkers. Hunting is safe and economically important, helping to manage wildlife populations and promote family traditions while fostering an understanding and respect for the environment.
Hunters looking for solitude can minimize the disturbance associated with other forms of recreation by following a few tips. Before a season opens, when hunters are scouting for the perfect spot or stand location, take the time to check if the planned location is a popular one. Avoid crowding other hunters and recognize that if a hunting location is near a popular hiking spot, noise can be a factor. If a preferred hunting spot is too crowded, identify an alternative location ahead of time.
When adventuring with a pet, make sure to keep them on a leash. Loose pets can cause problems with other recreators and can get into trouble with wild animals. Also, to make pets more identifiable in the woods, give them a brightly colored collar, leash or other covering.
DEC maintains hiking trails and permits hunting in many areas of forest preserve lands in the Adirondack and Catskill Pa
Chronic Wasting Disease
Hunters are critical to protecting New York deer and moose from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is an untreatable, fatal disease of the brain and nervous system disease caused by a misfolded protein called a prion that is spread in deer tissues, saliva, urine, and feces. Hunters can bring CWD prions into to New York without realizing it. To protect deer, do not bring hunter-killed deer, elk, moose, or caribou carcasses into New York from other states and do not use deer urine-based lures.
DEC reminds hunters of the importance of reporting their harvest. Harvest reporting is critical to wildlife management, and hunters are required to report their harvest of deer, bear, and turkey within seven days of taking the animal. Hunters may still use the phone report system, but the online and mobile systems are fast, convenient, and easy for hunters to accurately enter information.
More information on harvest reporting is available on DEC’s website.
More information on CWD is also available on DEC’s website.
Photo at top: A hiking trail in the Adirondacks. NYS DEC photo.