Safely Sharing the Trails During Hunting Season
Now that it's bear hunting season, take these extra precautions to stay safe while sharing the trail with hunters.
Around the same time some of the best wildflower hikes reach their peak, hunting season begins. The August start of the season can catch many hikers by surprise, since fall is the height of hunting season.
The first of August marked the beginning of bear hunting season across the the state. The South Cascades, Okanogan, and Northeastern B hunting zones begin on August 15, while the zones of Northeastern A, Blue Mountains and Long Island don’t begin until Sept 1. This means hikers should take extra precaution while they share the wilderness with hunters.
If you would like to avoid areas that permit hunting entirely, national and state parks in Washington do not allow hunting. Most national forest lands in Washington are open to hunting (though the elevation and specific zones vary).
If you hike in areas where hunting is permitted, remember the following tips to protect yourself and those you hike with:
- Wear bright clothing. Make yourself more visible. Choose colors that stand out, like red, orange or green, and avoid blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing.
- Make noise. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation as you walk to alert hunters to your presence. Sound carries well across mountain basins, and hunters should be listening for any sounds of animal movement.
- Make yourself known. If you do hear shooting, raise your voice and let hunters know that you are in the vicinity.
- Know when hunting seasons are. Continue to hike, but learn about where and when hunting is taking place. Bear season begins in August, followed by grouse, deer and several other species in September. October is the high point of hunting season.
- Know your own comfort level. If the idea of hiking during any hunting season makes you uneasy, choose a hike in a location where hunting is not allowed, such one of Washington's national parks or at any of more than 100 Washington's State Parks.
- If you hike with a dog, keep your pup on leash and consider having them wear a brightly-colored pack, coat or an old, orange t-shirt. Dogs or stock can easily be mistaken for coyotes, deer or other game, so make sure they're clearly off-limits.