Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Tips for hunters, outdoor recreationists on safely sharing the woods this fall and winter

A hiking trail in the Adirondacks

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 Parks, as well as in state forests, wildlife management areas, and unique areas. Find a place by visiting our website, checking out DECinfo Locator, or downloading the HuntFishNY Wildlife App. Many trails are also accessible to people with disabilities.

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.

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

15 Responses

  1. Gary Lee says:

    Maybe you could mention that hunter orange or pink is required for hunters vest and hat this year as many aren’t wearing any.

    • Scott says:

      3. Hunters must wear a fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink hat or vest when hunting deer or bear with a firearm.
      From DEC web site
      Probably a good idea to wear also if hiking
      Check the hunter harassment laws also while you are at it
      you might be surprised

  2. ml says:

    Hunters “enjoying natural resources”?Give us a break. Who would dare to go into the woods, even on a trail, during November? None of us hikers have a chance to relax around guys with guns. The onus has to be on them, yet we are the people who need to be careful? I get it. I also resent it.

    November: an extremely beautiful month outdoors, forever lost to many non-hunters.

    • COL (R) Mark Warnecke says:

      Grow up. You are at many magnitudes.greater risk driving to your hiking location any day of the year.

    • Boreas says:

      The only concession I make when hiking is to stay ON marked trails and wear some bright colors. I have a blaze vest in my car if I forget to wear bright clothes. Hunters typically don’t hunt on or along busy trails, and after the leaves are off, hunters have good visibility through the woods. Hiker-hunter fatalities must be pretty low compared to hunter-hunter fatalities or we would know about it. And even hunter-hunter accidents are very low. The risk isn’t enough to keep hunters out of the woods.

    • Scott says:

      Remember sharing is caring
      We’ll at least you have
      The other 11 months
      I’m starting to see a trend in if you’re not a hiker you are the enemy to nature and the environment. Meanwhile hunters are the ones who pay for all your outdoor activities with our licenses.

      • Dana says:

        Boy, somebody has a big head. Until hikers are required to ante-up, hunting/fishing/trapping licenses will definitely contribute to resource “management” not matched directly by hikers. But paying for “all” of our outdoor activities?? Taxpayers have a lot to do with that! Hikers are not your enemy – don’t insult them. We buy habitat stamps, hunting/fishing/trapping licenses, and pay taxes on sporting equipment too. It isn’t always “Us vs. Them”.

    • Rob says:

      @ml: how can you not relax in the woods?? How is November lost to many non hunters??

    • Paul says:

      Well, stay home if you don’t feel safe. But it makes no sense. A non-hunter being shot accidentally by a hunter is so rare that it basically never happens. So I am not sure what you are worried about. A hunter being shot accidentally by another hunter is fortunately also super rare. Also, take a look at the parking for the trailheads this weekend. Lots of hikers would ‘dare to go into the woods’.

    • Dan says:

      We hunt state land and are often on state trails, including one very popular trail. We see hikers enjoying themselves as much as we are. And by the way, it’s not just “guys” with guns. There’s more and more gals hunting than ever.

    • Bill Keller says:

      Between licenses, tags, permits and stamps it will cost hunters in the state $24,248,161 that goes to New York State every year for conservation efforts. Hikers contributing to the sport they enjoy, zero dollars. Under 3% of the entire population of New York State that has their hunting license yet all enjoy the benefits from the fees paid. Your welcome.

  3. Ed Burke says:

    Tip, don’t dress like the guy in the picture.

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