Spinoff of an OT Day thread - Keeping you and horse safe during hunting season....
Based on some of the off topic day threads, I figured it would be nice to share tips on staying safe during deer (and/or turkey as the case may be) hunting season.
I generally avoid trail riding on anything but land that is reserved for horses only.
I don't even trail ride in the woods next to the farm anymore.
Wear bright colors and put jingle bells on my saddle (even in horse designated trail areas... because you just never know).
ETA: To answer the questions from the OT thread, I have sat in three different hunting safety classes, and all three times have heard "wear orange" but less emphasis placed on "know your target" in those three particular classes. Different states for each class too.
I wear a blaze orange helmet cover year-round. Even in off hunting seasons, I have to cross roads periodically, so anything that helps visibility is a good thing.
During hunting season, I add a blaze orange vest and take precautions based on the weapon:
-for bow only times, I avoid the areas where I know bow hunters have stands
-for muzzleloader, I avoid all public and private lands where hunting is allowed
-for the main firearms season, I stay very close to home. Firearms season, especially the first weekend, seems to attract lots of craziness.
"Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
- Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926
wear blaze orange, pony also has a blaze orange saddle pad. I have some jingle bells and need to figure out how to attach them to the saddle.
During gun season, I only ride in the adjacent state forest on Sundays, when hunting isn't allowed (and this is pretty strictly enforced). Nonetheless, I always wear my orange, even on Sunday, because you never know if you'll run into some kids with BB guns or some paintballers out there. I also stick to the main trails (dirt roads) during the entire season, bow and gun.
I go where I want, when I want. I ride my horses when I want, where I want.
When working on the farm I wear a blaze orange hat. When riding on the farm, (I allow hunting on my land), I wear a blaze orange roadguard vest.
I don't expect hunters to tiptoe around me, or stop using the land just because I'm using it. I extend them the same courtesy and take basic safety precautions -it will help them determine what's beyond their target.
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
during the general deer rifle season I stay far away from anywhere anyone might consider hunting deer- this includes many places clearly posted as "No hunting"- because, judging by the piles of beer cans under the deer stands, there's no way anyone can be safe out there.
My barn owner allows his brother and his brother's friends to hunt on his property. During bow, muzzle, turkey, etc., I'll ride out on the trails occasionally. They know that horses use those trails frequently; I wear an orange vest, call out "Horse coming through" periodically and before coming around any corner, and loudly sing my "Please don't shoot me" song (to the tune of "Frere Jacques"). I also stick to the trails along the edge of the hayfields, where it's easy to spot me, and avoid the woods.
It's shotgun season now though and no trails until that's over... a local hunter managed to hit a school bus last week, so I don't want to risk my deer-coloured pony... plus, I find more and more broken bottles and beer cans in the woods near the subdivisions, so I worry more about the illegal hunters than I do the ones that have permission.
We hide both our deer colored horses in the second drainage in case of stray shot. I tend not to ride at this time of the year because it's mucky and slippery or too cold, depending, but I'd probably wear orange. We don't have much issue with unknown hunters here but the opening weekend can get rather busy.
To be honest, I don't worry at all during archery and muzzleloader seasons, nor do I wear my blaze orange. Horse gets nothing special either. In my mind, the folks out during these seasons are much more sportsmen and serious hunters, so I feel more confident that they are paying attention, just due to the very nature of hunting with those weapons.
Now that rifle is in, that's a different story! I feel that more people are out hunting and may not be as skilled/ serious about hunting as folks out during the other two deer hunting seasons. I do wear my blaze orange just to be more visible to those that may be more anxious to take a shot at a large creature thinking it might be a deer without really looking to make sure that is what they are seeing.
I don't ride out very far from my barn owner's property, especially on Saturdays, when more hunters may be out, especially the second Saturday when everyone who hasn't yet gotten a deer is desperate. Luckily, where I board at has a lot of open fields and not so much woods, so people riding are pretty visible. I don't really mind the hunters, I just want them to see me and not shoot. I have dated a few hunters and known many people that hunt, and most of them take it very seriously. Not so much as recreation but rather way to put food on their table. I try to be friendly when I do encounter a hunter and ask how their day is going. Most everyone we encounter is known to my BO and they know there are horses around. In 20+ years of riding, I have never encountered any "jerks" out hunting, though at a different barn, we did come across some guys hunting turkeys without permission to be on the property (we didn't know that at the time, we just mentioned it to our BO when we got back and he took off hell-bent for leather in the direction we came from).
The barn owner where I currently board allows one man to hunt on the farm(100 acres). He comes to the barn and writes on the message board where and what time he will be hunting on the farm. If I am riding in the ring(open pasture all around ring), I don't wear orange, but if I ride out on the farm (combo of woods and open fields) I wear vest or other orange clothing. I recently got a cool blaze orange rein that I put on my horse's bridle. I also have some blaze orange with reflective silver strips ankle bands for my mare. In the past where I used to board I did run into groups of hunters hanging out by their trucks drinking(multiple times). It kind of creeped me out as they were acting a little rowdy. I tended not to ride out as much after that at that farm.