There are many outdoor activities to be enjoyed during the fall season in New England. Trail hikes and hunting are two great examples. Many trails are absolutely beautiful this time of year; the changing foliage and the mild temperatures are sure to entice people to get outside with their four-legged family members.
I have recently started hunting with my husband and discovered that I have inadvertently disturbed a hunter or two over the years. A little awareness and a few simple adjustments before stepping into the woods will ensure safety for your family and dogs while considering a hunter’s experience.
Wear orange: it’s never out of fashion to be visible
Not just for hunters, blaze orange or hunter orange, should be worn by all family members including your dog. While hiking trails or simply wandering the woods of your back yard, the vibrant color makes you visible from a distance. Orange reflective safety vests for dogs can be purchased at local sporting goods stores and pet stores.
Whistle while you walk
Vocalizing or whistling every once in a while during your walk enables hunters to hear you if you are out of sight.
Applying a bell to your cat or dog’s collar follows the same concept that your pet’s presence will be noted if he or she is not immediately seen.
You may smell
Unless instructed, do not approach hunting stands, blinds, or game cameras. Scent control is a common practice for many hunters. If you and your pet walk around these areas, your scent (think perfume, laundry detergent etc.) may deter approaching wildlife.
A leash goes a long way
Leash your pets in wooded areas to prevent them from chasing wildlife or running out of sight. A dog may not be able to help itself if a deer or rabbit bounds away from him, or worse, a porcupine or skunk!
This can also reduce the habitat damage that occurs when dogs run off the trail. Dogs can leave behind a predator scent that disrupts wildlife and may hinder nesting and feeding activities.
The sound of a gun shot may cause fearful dogs to run away and hide. Gunshot report is similar to the boom of fireworks.
Lastly, there may be wild game traps in brooks and fields. Using a leash may prevent an accidental ensnarement.
Know the time and place
Hunting is popular throughout the year along with trapping. Knowing where and when hunters and trappers recreate is helpful when scheduling your family’s outdoor activities. You can find your state’s guidelines and schedules on their wildlife website.
Alternatively, if you want to avoid hunting areas altogether, there are parks that prohibit hunting and trapping. Do your research ahead of time.
Amanda Searles, LVT
Amanda is a 2008 graduate from Great Bay Community College where she earned her associates degree in veterinary sciences. She then obtained her veterinary technician license through the state of Maine. She has worked for Port City Veterinary Referral Hospital for eight years and loves emergency medicine. Amanda enjoys all things outdoors including running, fishing and hunting. She resides in Eliot Maine with her husband Mike and their dog Hunter.