Winter is a great time to be outside in New York. Winter hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, birding, snowmobiling, hunting, trapping, and ice fishing are among the most popular activities available to residents and visitors alike. Whether you seek solitude or excitement, you can find it in New York during winter.
One Property, Many Uses
Many forms of winter recreation can and do take place simultaneously on the same public or private property without conflict. It just takes a little advanced planning, respect, and common courtesy among users. Whether recreating on public land or private land where you have permission, you should be aware of the types of activities that also may be taking place on the property you are using. It’s always a good idea to ask a landowner if others will be present when you wish to pursue your pastime, whether that involves snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, trapping, or hunting rabbits or deer. We all share the outdoors, the snow, the woods, and the fields. Just as it is the case during warmer months, being considerate of others is vital when sharing the snow in winter.
Hunters: Be aware that others may have permission to ski, hike, or ride on property you hunt. You should also understand that snowmobile clubs prefer to mark trails with posts and signage before the ground freezes, so you may wish to avoid known snowmobile trails in late hunting seasons. As always, be alert to other users and practice safe use of firearms.
Recreationists: Be aware that hunters may be present at any time during the fall and winter; deer hunting occurs between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and small game hunting continues through February. Hunters are trained to identify their target and what is beyond, and New York hunters have an exceptional safety record.
Be Considerate of Others: Treat other users as you would like to be treated. Accept that a temporary interruption in your activity may occur, just as your presence may be a temporary interruption to others. If you see another party, announce your presence with a “hello” rather than a wave.
Practice Safety: Whether you are hunting, hiking, or skiing, it’s a good idea to wear some brightly colored clothing when you are recreating outdoors, whether or not hunting seasons are open. Bright clothing will help you be seen if you are lost, injure an ankle, or if you break a binding or have an equipment failure.
Landowners: As a property owner, you decide who is welcome on your property and how it can be enjoyed. Your generosity is appreciated, whether you are providing a critical link in a snowmobile trail network, or serving as a gracious host to those who may use your property for other purposes. Your goodwill is recognized in the General Obligations Law (GOL), which provides protection from liability when you allow people to access your land for recreation without cost. The GOL applies whether you allow a single activity or permit multiple uses, and whether your property is posted or not.
Remember, we all share public lands and public resources, so let’s “share the snow.”
Photo at top provided by the NYS DEC.