In my opinion fall is the best time of year to hike. The weather is cooler, the leaves change adding beautiful color to the landscape, and best of all there are no flies. The forests are also much busier in the fall because of hunting season.
During the 2013 hunting season in New Brunswick there were 49,614 deer licenses issued, 4,612 moose licenses issued, and another 7,121 bear licenses issued (For more information go to Big Game Harvest Report 2013). This does not include the small game, waterfowl and varment licenses issues. This all means that there are a lot of people heading to the woods in the fall to hunt.
So how does this apply to hiking? There are many hiking trails in the province that exist in the same forests where this hunting is taking place. Many of the parks in the province are also forested and adjacent to areas where people are hunting.
I am not saying all of this to give you an excuse to stay home. On the contrary. As I said before it is the best time of year to hike. From what I can figure you are about 10 times more likely to be hurt in a car accident than in a hunting accident, and I don’t know many people who stay home everyday because they are scared to drive. That is a whole other issue that I am not going to deal with in this blog post.
The reason I am writing this post is to make sure that when you do go hiking (and I hope you do) that you are taking adequate safety precautions so you are not putting yourself at an increased risk. So what can you do to mitigate the risk? Its easy. I only have two recommendations:
- Wear Hunter Orange – The most obvious safety precaution is to wear hunter orange during hunting season. This is to assure that no hunter mistakes you for a moose or a deer. If you wear hunter orange the hunters will think you are one of them and leave you be. Hunters are legally required to wear hunter orange but others are not. I think this is a shortsighted law that assumes no one else is in the woods, but I don’t always leave it up to a law to tell me how to be safe. A vest or jacket, and a hat that is solid orange is the best option for visibility. There are many cheap options at Canadian Tire or Walmart, and they will keep you warm on those brisk fall days.
- Explore Parks, Historic Sites and Wildlife Refuges – Hunting is not permitted in camps, parks, historic sites, wildlife refuges and class 1 protected areas. There are many great hiking trails in the provincial parks to explore. There are two national parks in the province: Fundy Park and Kouchibouguac. There are also many municipal parks, privately owned parks, wildlife refuges, and Nature Preserves. Basically anything on the Trails List page with something in the park column or any trail with Nature Preserve in the name. Note: Most of these areas still border on forests where hunting is permitted so it is still advised to wear hunter orange.
Every year I wonder when I should start dressing myself and the kids up like pumpkins. The following is a fancy diagram I created of the hunting seasons in the province:
Note: Hunting isn’t permitted on Sundays between October 28 and November 17. Some zones in the province have shorter hunting seasons than shown. For more information see DNR – Hunting and Trapping 2014.
Trapping season is not a risk to hikers but it can be a risk to your four legged friends. Dogs have been known to get caught in snares or other types of traps. Traps are usually set up on animal trails, and what dog doesn’t like to explore an animal trail. The best thing to do is keep your dog on a leash during the trapping season or stick to the parks.
Snaring season runs from Oct. 1 to Feb. 28.
Now that you know how to minimize your risk during hunting season you should have no excuses for why you should stay home. Get out. Enjoy the cooler temperatures, the beautiful colors in the leaves, and relish in the fact that there are no mosquitos or blackflies to distract you from the adventure.