8 Tips: Backcountry Safety this Hunting Season
October 13th marks the beginning of First Rifle Season for elk, meaning this year’s hunting season is already well underway. Over the next 40 days, it’s good to remember certain safety concepts when cruising around the backcountry. For those who spend a vast amount of time outdoors and in the forests, this date should be important regarding backcountry safety. Hunters themselves take many safety precautions to ensure the safety of others, however, they cannot predict everything. Thankfully there are also precautions that others in the forest can take to ensure overall safety this hunting season.
Important Safety Details to be aware of this upcoming hunting season
1. Know when the season begins. Being aware of the hunting season dates is crucial for anyone spending time in the backcountry. There are many resources for finding info on the hunting season like the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Big Game Hunting Planner
2. Wear bright colors. Jim Schank, board member of the Vallecito Conservation and Sporting Association (V.C.S.A) recommends that you “know your background.” If you’re in a wooded area, avoid wearing browns and greens. Help make yourself visible to possible hunters in the area by wearing bright visible colors. Ideally, one would wear the well known “hunter orange” that all hunters themselves wear.
3. Make some noise. Another way to inform hunters of your presence is by simply making noise. Whether it’s engaging in conversation with your friends while hiking or whistling a tune while fishing, these can be extremely beneficial to let nearby hunters know where you are.
4. Be aware of ideal hunting times. Typically, the best time to hunt is in the early hours of dawn or around dusk. Being aware of these time frames can help know when you should be more aware of hunting safety.
5. Learn about hunting environments. One great resource for non-hunters is the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Colorado Hunting Atlas. This document shows all of the CPW Public Access Properties which typically allow for different types of hunting. It’s important to know that hunting regulations all revolved around who owns the land. This atlas show which areas are public, private, state and federal land and allows individuals to further research the regulations. Trevor Packard, an avid local sportsman mentioned: “for non-hunters, the best thing you can do is stick to the trail.”
6. Stay within city limits or open space areas. Typically, staying around open spaces and within city limits is a safe bet for exploring the backcountry. If you’re in an open space, there are less visual obstacles between a hunter and yourself. You can also stay within city limits because hunters might expect more adventurer’s.
7. Make yourself visible. If you hear shooting of any sort, the US Forest Service recommends raising your voice or making noise to let hunters aware of your location.
8. Remember your furry friends. If you’re exploring with a dog, consider dressing them in same colors you would dress yourself. Pets are unpredictable and can aimlessly run around. If you’re traveling with a horse, Trevor Packard also recommends tying orange or bright ribbons on the saddle to help hunters better identify your animals.