- Sep 20, 2017 at 12:39 pm #3492069
I’m planning on heading down to Dolly Sods this weekend (Yama Mountain Gear’s Instagram page is showing some really pretty fall colors there.), and since it is getting to be that time of the year, I’m also trying to be attentive to hunting seasons, since I know that’s allowed down there. Hiking is fun, getting accidentally shot at is not. (Been there. Long story.)
It’s easy enough for me to pull the various seasons and dates from the West Virginia DNR page (which I’ve done), but there’s enough categories that seem to either have year-round seasons or at least very long seasons that I’m not entirely sure what I should really be looking out for, date-wise. (I.e. squirrels appear to have a year-round season, but obviously people aren’t rocking blaze orange in the summer).
Most of my trips this time of year have traditionally been in national parks, so I don’t have a ton of experience hiking in the fall in areas where hunting’s allowed, so I’m just trying to get an idea of which seasons (which animals) I need to start really looking out and taking appropriate safety precautions (blaze orange, etc.). Obviously, things like deer season, etc. are big times of year, but I’m not sure if I need to worry about the seasons for smaller and presumably less popular game (which are often year-round).
I’m low on sleep and have only had ten or so cups of coffee, so I might not be expressing myself all that clearly, but basically I’m just trying to get an idea of if it’s starting to get to the point in the season where I should be mindful of these things and maybe look into appropriate safety precautions.
Longer-term, I’m also trying to get a better idea of how to read and interpret hunting regs across the board to make sure that my pretty fall trips don’t wind up with me being mistaken for a bear.Sep 20, 2017 at 1:46 pm #3492079
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Totally shoot from the hip, but at that latitude, it seems early big-game hunting season. Hunting deer and bear, etc is done in the fall because (1) the animals are the heaviest then, (2) the cooler weather lets the hunter store and transport the meat without spoilage, and (3) then those critters won’t be competing for the reduced amount of browse (food) through the winter.
But just call up a local Sportsman’s Warehouse and ask when deer / beer season starts. Or the local office of the State Fish & Wildlife. Yeah, it can vary by a week or two from one management unit to another (they may want more and less harvest in different areas). And often archery season and sometimes a dedicated youth season is held for one or two weeks prior to the regular season opening.
I used to be amazed at how many hunters got shot on opening day. One year I was driving through Colorado that week and the news report was 5 people had been shot on opening day. In a state that required hunters wear blaze orange! That amazed me and stuck with me but when I mentioned it after moving to a small, rural town, everyone looked at me and explained, “A lot of scores get settled on opening day.” You know where Jim Bob’s tree stand is – he’s been laying feed around it for weeks now – and you’re still upset about him, your wife, and . . . .
From one study of hunters’ visits at a rural hospital: The most common medical visits (105) were for cardiac signs and symptoms, and all of the ED deaths (4) were attributed to cardiac causes. The most common trauma diagnosis was laceration (151), the majority (113) of which came from accidental knife injuries, usually while the hunter was field dressing big game animals. Gunshot wounds (4, < 1%) were rare. Horse-related injuries to hunters declined while motor vehicle- and all-terrain vehicle (ATV)-related injuries increased. The five out-of-hospital deaths were cardiac related (3), motor vehicle related (1), and firearm related (1).
So wear blaze orange, don’t piss anyone off, and be in good shape before schlepping a 80-pound pack of meat. I used to fret about it, but don’t anymore. I do put a bright vest on our black dog in the Fall.
In grizzly country, be aware of gut piles left behind by hunters and avoid them.Sep 20, 2017 at 8:18 pm #3492164
Not many grizzly in around here.
I don’t know about West Virginia, but just a few miles up the road from Dolly Sods, the first day of (rifle) deer season has always been the Monday after Thanksgiving is such a big deal that school are closed in the rural areas.
Anyway, it doesn’t need to be deer season people to be shooting. I was out earlier this year and there was a great deal of shooting in the distance, like it was a shooting range except I don’t know of any shooting range in the area and google didn’t find one. I’m sure they were being safe and shooting into a slope where they could see their target and all behind it and certainly the bullets weren’t headed anywhere near me. Still, I’ve bought more blaze orange (base layer shirt, Houdini) so that I can be visible without wearing the cheap plastic vest.Sep 21, 2017 at 6:18 am #3492225
This kind of stupid is a illustration of why David’s reminder about the dog wearing orange is important.Sep 21, 2017 at 11:30 am #3492323
Thanks for the feedback- I think I got what I was after. I’m definitely clear of all of the big game seasons, with the possible exception of bears (depends on county…I need to check), so I should be good.
Basically, a better-phrased version of my question would have been that, since it looks as though it’s always legal to hunt SOMETHING in West Virginia (probably true everywhere), I was just trying to get a sense of which seasons to actually watch out for. I don’t eat meat and have never hunted, so it’s not a topic I’ve ever educated myself on.
Once it hits deer season, I tend to stay out of most of those areas. (I live in PA, so I definitely know about the schools closing in certain parts of the state.) I was in Shenandoah a few years ago during deer season, and it sounded like there was a war going on in the nearby National Forest land.
Sep 23, 2017 at 7:50 pm #3492856Sep 29, 2017 at 5:34 pm #3493937
- This reply was modified 9 months, 3 weeks ago by John Rowan.
David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
John, the only thing I’d worry about it the general deer season, where just about anyone can buy a tag at Walmart. Most states separate archery, primitive firearm (muzzleloaders, shotguns, etc), and modern firearm seasons. It’s not a bad idea to wear orange all fall, but I’d only really worry about the various firearms seasons.
Orange hats are more visible than vests or coats, and having a bit of orange fabric or tape on your pack is a good idea, especially if it the pack is earth toned.
Sep 29, 2017 at 5:40 pm #3493942
- This reply was modified 9 months, 2 weeks ago by David Chenault.
I definitely appreciate the responses- I wound up snagging a blaze orange hat (which paired nicely with my blue hiking shirt), and I was definitely glad I did- I got into the Sods mid-afternoon (had a little whoopsy-daisy on estimating drive times), and there were definitely people who were obviously coming back from hunting (it was bear season for those counties). I wasn’t really on-trail for much of what I’d assume would be good hunting time (or in an area that wasn’t so crowded that no reasonable person would use a gun), but I was definitely glad to have the orange nonetheless.
I’m also glad to have gotten the feedback above, since it’ll definitely help me expand my horizons for fall trips instead of just not bothering to learn what to look for and defaulting to Shenandoah (where it’s 100% illegal). That said, I’ll probably avoid deer season, since that basically is a national holiday in these parts.Sep 29, 2017 at 8:25 pm #3493978
Paul MagnantiBPL Member
@paulmagsLocale: Front Range Zoo
I wrote this three years ago. Perhaps you’ll find it useful?Sep 30, 2017 at 1:58 pm #3494064
Tipi WalterBPL Member
Now I know why I paid a crapload of money for my Arcteryx Alpha SV rain jacket—
Look hunters! A human.
And I can always drape it over the pack for visibility—
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