With the arrival of cooler weather, hikers, dog walkers, and trail runners alike will be out on the local trails to exercise, sightsee, and appreciate nature. Before you head out to join them, you must remember for safety’s sake that Carteret County also has a strong local hunting culture that is fortunately known to respectfully coexist with trail enthusiasts. These are some key guidelines that will decrease your risk of a mishap while traveling the trail on foot.
Avoid hiking or running in the hours before and after sunrise and sunset! Wildlife is most active during those hours, so the hunters are as well. Visibility is also lower at these times.
Be visible! You can make yourself easier for others to see by wearing bright orange vests, clothing, and/or hats. The more visible you are to others, the more your risk decreases.
Make noise! Even though playing music aloud is not good trail etiquette, during hunting season you should make your presence known by whistling, singing, or talking out loud to yourself.
Obey signage! Knowing where public lands and private lands meet before you go out in the woods is a great idea to ensure your safety, but you should also pay attention and respect posted property signs. Rural property owners count on their posted private property signs to warn the public to avoid the area. Property owners will do their own hunting on their land or invite family or friends to hunt. In any circumstance, private property signage must always be respected.
Say no to bushwhacking! Bushwhacking is when an explorer will leave the marked trail and make their way through an unmarked area. Experienced and knowledgable hunters know where the local recreation trails are and tend to avoid these areas. They also know that wildlife tends to avoid recreation trails, so the hunters go where the animals are more likely to be. If you stay on the marked trails, it will greatly reduce the chances you or the hunter get in one another’s way and cause a mishap.
Don’t get in the way! Avoidance is your best course of action when you encounter a hunter, though is is very unlikely that you will. Give them a polite nod to acknowledge that you recognize their presence and if at all possible, go the other way.
Leash your dog! And adorn them in orange. Even if you’re in a location that permits bringing your dog and keeping them off-leash (which only includes private property in this area), take this additional precaution anyway, especially during hunting season. Wildlife can be on edge during this time and it is not uncommon for a wild animal to dash directly in front of you and your dog, causing your dog to pursue it. Never hike or run with an off-leash dog in an area with hunters.
Be prepared! Do your research on the hunting seasons before you leave for the trail. You should also find out about any potential changes to dates or rules caused by outside factors, or conditions that can make your run riskier.
Northeastern & Southeastern Deer Season runs Oct. 16, 2021-Jan. 1, 2022.
Jessica Diaz is an ultra runner, loving wife & mother, owner of a Siberian Husky, RRCA Running Coach & Race Director, as well as Digital Manager at The GYM Cape Carteret Aquatic & Wellness and CEO of Diaz Media Marketing.