Thursday, October 11, 2012

Be careful when hiking, biking on public lands during hunting season; wear bright colors

Hunting season is upon us. 
Hi all,

General deer season opened on Wednesday, and that means a lot of hunters will be out in the woods with high-powered rifles pursuing mule deer and white-tailed deer throughout the state.

Deer season will run from Oct. 10-24 in many parts of Idaho, and in some units, it'll run from Oct. 10-31. General elk season opens Oct. 15 in McCall and the Sawtooths, and it opens Nov. 1 in Unit 39, in the Boise River drainage. Elk season continues for several weeks, depending on location. In Unit 39, it's over on Nov. 9.

And then special weapon seasons continue, including seasons for hunters using muzzle-loader rifles and seasons for cow elk, antelope, moose, mountain lions, black bears, etc. If you'd like all the details go to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game web site and check out the big game regulations. The hunting seasons are set up according to big game unit. It'll take a few minutes to figure out the regulations ... they are very complicated to say the least.
Blaze orange vest for your dog. 
My point in bringing this up is that non-hunters who want to continue hiking and mountain biking activities in our national forests or BLM lands at this time of year should be aware that hunting seasons are going on. Watch out for hunters in the woods and wear bright colors on your person (think blaze orange) to avoid getting shot. Sad but true, hunters have killed or wounded people by mistake, thinking they're a game animal. Hunters also might shoot a dog by mistake. So be sure to put some blaze orange on your dog(s) to protect them.

So, you may wonder, where can I go hiking or biking in the next several weeks and not worry about co-mingling with hunters?
  • Ridge to Rivers trails in the Boise Foothills will be a good bet. The roads and trails in the Boise River Wildlife Management Area, including Trail E heading up to Lucky Peak, will have deer-hunting activity going on. Ditto with the Boise Ridge Road. You'll see road hunters up there and hunters on ATVs.
  • State Parks. Ponderosa State Park in McCall will be a safe haven (no hunting is allowed in the park), and so will places like Bruneau Dunes State Park and Three Island Crossing State Park
  • Owyhee Front, BLM land. Trails on the front side of the Owyhees should be safer than the trails in the Owyhee backcountry, where there will be many deer and antelope hunters scattered about. Try the Wilson-Reynolds Creek Loop in my book, the Boise Trail Guide
  • The Sawtooth Wilderness has some hunting activity going on, but not so much compared to the White Clouds and other parts of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Day hikes in the Sawtooths should be a safe bet, but dress warm! 
  • Popular trails close to McCall and trails near Ketchum-Sun Valley also should be a good bet. 
  • As the fall colors begin to kick in, it's a good time to take a scenic drive. The Statesman recommended a number of scenic drives in their outdoor tips this week, and VisitIdaho, Idaho's tourism office, offers a great listing of scenic drives in Idaho. 
Coming up on Saturday, Oct. 20, is an opportunity to help work on the Harrison Hollow Nature Trail, next to Bogus Basin Road and Healthwise. Volunteers will be working on the trail from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sign up online through REI. They need a total of 40 volunteers, and there are only 10 spots left! 

Because of the hunting seasons going on, I'm going to take a break from my weekly tips between now and when the snow flies. I'll be back with winter tips after we get some snow.  Let's hope we get some precipitation soon! Is it going to be an El Nino or La Nina winter?

Have fun!

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