Runners are presented with a unique challenge during hunting season that they rarely have to worry about for the rest of the year. Usually, we do not really have to worry about getting shot while we are out getting our run in, but in many areas of the country that could be a real possibility right now or in the near future.
Here in Maine, Youth Deer Day is this Saturday, with the normal hunting season beginning on Halloween. For most of the month of November, running on the trails isn’t quite as safe as it normally is.
Here are a few things to bear in mind when you are hitting the roads or the trails that will help to keep you safe:
- Know the local laws. You should know what days the hunting season falls upon, as well as what weapons they are allowed to use. Pay special attention to where and when they are allowed to use them.
- Don’t assume the hunters know the laws. While it would be nice to assume that you don’t have anything to worry about, sometimes a hunter just doesn’t know when he is poaching (or doesn’t care.)
- Consider sticking to roads. If you normally run on trails, you may want to consider avoiding them altogether during hunting season. At least be aware of how much your trail selection is going to be limited while the hunters are out.
- Wear bright, unnatural colors. Be sure to wear bright clothing in colors that don’t usually appear in nature, especially on whatever animal is in season. Hunter orange is a great choice, as it is highly visible and contrasts with the normal brown and white colors found on deer.
- Buddy up. Always run with others during hunting season, especially on trails. If there is an accident, then there is a better chance that you will get the help you need if you have a friend or a group with you.
- Be loud and obvious. If you are running near a hunter, they might get annoyed if you scare away their prey. It is better to do that than to be mistaken for that prey, though, so be sure to talk loudly with whoever you are running with.
- State parks may be open to hunting. The laws in your state may vary, but in many states you can hunt in some or all of the state parks. Be sure to check before hand whether hunting is allowed.
Where I live, hunting is illegal on Sundays and later than 30 minutes past sunset. Most of my weekday trail running is done after dark with a headlamp, and usually in a park where I know that hunting is not allowed. On the weekends, I usually try to avoid trail running on Saturdays except in a couple of specific places that I know are safe.
Running doesn’t have to be dangerous at this time of year, and a little common sense can go a long way towards keeping accidents from happening.
If you want specific information about your local laws, here is a compiled list for each state in the US that leads to where you can find the policies and laws for each state:
(Photo Credit: J. B. Martin)