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Trail riding in rural areas during hunting seasons, what precautions do you take?

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  • #41
    Well, I'm more in the camp of "I have a right to be out in the woods as long as I'm being safe." My opinion is that just living in the countryside during hunting season carries a lot of risks.

    This conclusion is compounded in my case by several observations: on a few occasions I have seen hunters clearly violating rules. I've seen hunters hunting on Sunday, for example, which is illegal in Massachusetts. I've seen hunters shooting too close to people's houses. I've seen hunters hunting on publicly maintained trails that are posted. And I've seen hunters illegally doing a "drive hunt" of deer (in which some hunters fan out and "drive" the deer towards other hunters), and they were doing it on posted land.

    My barn owner has also seen evidence of spotlight hunting, which is illegal, on some of the trails along powerlines, where people set out feed lures with motion activated cameras, drive their four wheel drive vehicles up near the lures, and then dazzle the deer with their headlights to make them easier to shoot.

    I know that the vast majority of hunters do obey the regulations, but there are enough that don't that it makes me less willing to cede the woods to them, especially when I'm keeping to posted areas when I ride.
    "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

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    • Original Poster

      #42
      Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
      Has anyone found a skull cap cover in the neon orange?
      My google skills have failed to find anything.




      I guess I look at it as - we have the rest of the year the only have this short time. Ya know, that whole sharing thing.


      To the OP, it sounds like you already plan on doing this, but make sure the land owners there are OK with you riding on their land during hunting season. They might have allowed the horses to use their land but assume you will not be out there during hunting season. Do not risk being kicked off that land the rest of the year by scaring off the hunters that have permission to be there (or worse, scaring off the deer while the land owner tries to hunt their own land).
      I have not decided to knowingly ride on hunting land, I actually plan to avoid land that is being hunted IF I know for a fact it is being used. My family members hunt (in towns far away) and I respect the money, time and enjoyment of hunters. I just want to be very cautious especially since I am moving to a new barn and don't know all of the official or unofficial "rules" of the area. property lines aren't always flagged or identified and mistakes do happen. There are also people that do not follow the official rules and I want to make sure those people know I am there even if they aren't supposed to be. I don't want to intentionally disrupt someone's hunting time and since I typically ride midday I doubt this will be a problem. Most hunters I know hit early morning/evening hours which I try not to ride in the woods during but do at times. I know this season I will likely not be in the woods during prime time as we will be new to the barn and will wait until the horses and ourselves are fully acclimated before venturing out close to dark.
      Lovebug "Bugs" 2006-2019

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      • #43
        Originally posted by LSMarnell View Post
        NOPE, I am not giving up the best time of year to ride. I ride at mid-day and rarely even see a hunter, and PA is really big on hunting. I have been doing this for 25 years and never had a problem.

        It's safer to assume that you won't see them. But you would feel something trickling down your back/leg/arm/chest
        ... _. ._ .._. .._

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        • #44
          Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
          It is best not to ride in hunting areas in season. Not only do you stand a chance of getting shot, but you really piss off hunters by singing, ringing and generally crashing through the landscape and scattering any wildlife. They have invested time and money for a relatively short season, the least you can do is leave them to enjoy it and wait until their time is up. You do not have to be seen to get shot from a long way off.
          The main area I ride is Department of Natural Resources land. Recreational shooting is allowed all year 'round in the area by me. Some people don't follow the rules and do things such as not using an earthen berm/backdrop when shooting. Recently a free-standing wooden target was erected right on the side of the trail.

          I only ride out there on Mondays through Thursdays midmorning and never on holidays and I always wear safety orange and have a bell on my saddle to make myself and my horse more visible.

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          • #45
            Originally posted by Posting Trot View Post
            Well, I'm more in the camp of "I have a right to be out in the woods as long as I'm being safe." My opinion is that just living in the countryside during hunting season carries a lot of risks.

            This conclusion is compounded in my case by several observations: on a few occasions I have seen hunters clearly violating rules. I've seen hunters hunting on Sunday, for example, which is illegal in Massachusetts. I've seen hunters shooting too close to people's houses. I've seen hunters hunting on publicly maintained trails that are posted. And I've seen hunters illegally doing a "drive hunt" of deer (in which some hunters fan out and "drive" the deer towards other hunters), and they were doing it on posted land.

            My barn owner has also seen evidence of spotlight hunting, which is illegal, on some of the trails along powerlines, where people set out feed lures with motion activated cameras, drive their four wheel drive vehicles up near the lures, and then dazzle the deer with their headlights to make them easier to shoot.

            I know that the vast majority of hunters do obey the regulations, but there are enough that don't that it makes me less willing to cede the woods to them, especially when I'm keeping to posted areas when I ride.
            I live in MA too, and have seen all of this. As well as several illegal traps set up too. I am frankly very disenchanted with the local hunting populace here, because they rarely follow rules and are not respectful (IMHO) of the right to be on posted / public property.

            I keep my horses on family property, which abuts two big (private) farms -- and those farms have a lot of conservation and private land that I am allowed to ride on between them. I see some legal hunters, and a lot of illegal ones.

            That being said, I'm not in the camp of not riding my horse just because a hunter has spent a lot of money to hunt and "has a limited time to do it". Well, I spent a lot of money on taxes for conservation of public spaces and should have the same right to public land as a hunter.

            In MA hunting season is not short - I would basically have to forfeit riding from September to the first week in January if I was to not ride during hunting season. Since I don't have an indoor, I pretty much am limited to trails and roads.

            However there are some precautions I try to take - I also avoid riding the more private areas during holidays (drunken hunters), and try to keep my riding on Friday/Saturdays to before peak hunting hours. If I know there are hunters about I stick to open areas like along the high-tension wires and larger trails. I keep my clothes high vis, and have bells on the horse's tack -- but I also am someone that rides my horse with a small portable speaker to listen to music while we hack.

            Everyone hears us long before they see us.
            AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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            • #46
              It's been hinted at in other posts, but the first thing you should do is find out exactly what the hunting regulations and dates are for your area. They should be pretty easy to find online. In my state, there are apparently two different zones with two different sets of rules, and I regularly ride in one county on either side of the line. Sunday hunting varies from county to county. In the county I live in, it's allowed on private property. In the next county, it's not allowed at all. If you're riding in public parks, sometimes they have different hunting days than are allowed by law (same date ranges, but maybe are only open to hunting 4 days per week vs. 6 or 7).

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              • #47
                Originally posted by Equibrit View Post


                It's safer to assume that you won't see them. But you would feel something trickling down your back/leg/arm/chest
                What is this supposed to mean?

                Comment


                • #48
                  Originally posted by LSMarnell View Post

                  What is this supposed to mean?
                  You wouldn't see them before you got shot.

                  The trickling would be the blood.

                  (Not agreeing with that post, just explaining)
                  AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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                  • #49
                    Wear something hi vis, orange preferably. Bells and some quiet music are fine, no need to be obnoxious. Deer and hunters will hear you, but there’s no need to spook them, that’s just a good way to piss everyone off. Riding midday is also a good idea. And stay on main trails. Hunters will typically stick to game trails or known bedding areas.

                    Bow season is far less risky. Most hunters won’t shoot anything further than 40yards, 60 with a crossbow.

                    Like others said, look at the seasons in the areas you’ll be hunting. In the fall we have moose, deer, turkey, bear, and migratory bird. Then there are different dates for bow vs shotgun vs rifle. Then different dates between townships, and different dates for public land vs private.

                    P.S. You may not see hunters, but that doesn’t mean they don’t see you.
                    Last edited by GoodTimes; Oct. 27, 2019, 08:19 AM.

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                    • #50
                      I'm slowly losing respect for hunters, in the past few years I have found three deer that were shot and left to die without trying to find them. Not sure how you can shoot a deer and then have it run away , unless you did not have your eye on your target. Today was really really annoying - I came home from Church - fed the horses lunch in their stalls and took my dogs for a walk on my farm which is completely fenced in and the gates are closed. I have a trail on my property and was in the back when my dogs bark and I hear another dog barking and then two men - they were deer hunters with a dog and had trespassed on My property to find a deer that they had shot. It was 1 in the afternoon. I was livid. Plus, their dog was trying to attack my dogs , who are old . I truly don't trust them to Not take a shot at me riding my horse because some ot them just take a shot at anything brown!

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                      • #51
                        Originally posted by dog&horsemom View Post
                        I'm slowly losing respect for hunters, in the past few years I have found three deer that were shot and left to die without trying to find them. Not sure how you can shoot a deer and then have it run away , unless you did not have your eye on your target. Today was really really annoying - I came home from Church - fed the horses lunch in their stalls and took my dogs for a walk on my farm which is completely fenced in and the gates are closed. I have a trail on my property and was in the back when my dogs bark and I hear another dog barking and then two men - they were deer hunters with a dog and had trespassed on My property to find a deer that they had shot. It was 1 in the afternoon. I was livid. Plus, their dog was trying to attack my dogs , who are old . I truly don't trust them to Not take a shot at me riding my horse because some ot them just take a shot at anything brown!
                        This is confusing.

                        You start by saying you have no respect for hunters who do not find their deer after the shoot it, then you turn around and are annoyed at hunters trying to track the deer that the shot.

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                        • #52
                          I don't want someone opening my gate, coming in with their aggressive dog and a rifle hanging over their shoulder tromping through my property - they could leave a note on my gate stating their problem. The deer I found dead ( three different times ) were on trail rides with friends, all were poaching on private properties/ no hunting areas. As is our area! we also found a hunter, on our trail, with a dead deer , illegally hunting on the trail.

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                          • #53
                            That's odd. What kind of dog did the hunters have with them?
                            The deer dogs around here are scared of their own shadows except when it comes to deer. Or sadly chickens.
                            which is why my girls are locked in their house on hunting days
                            But your hunters just had one dog? Not a pack?
                            I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

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                            • #54
                              A couple of thoughts from a hunter and a rider:

                              -Hi-vis anything is best in as large a block as possible: vest, quarter sheet, etc. Small items like strap goods/halters are nearly invisible from a distance, and mesh is less visible than solid. If you don't like blaze orange or want to mix it up because of fall leaves, electric blue is a color of very few things in nature.

                              -Try to avoid or put color next to any small patches of white. Some idiots will shoot at what they think is a deer's tail, so there have been tragedies with people wearing a white turtleneck or mittens and dark clothes.

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                              • #55
                                Originally posted by Kodiak View Post
                                A couple of thoughts from a hunter and a rider:

                                . . . mesh is less visible than solid. . . .
                                I know I'm coming back to this thread after it's dwindled away, but just wanted to say that this depends on the mesh.

                                The mesh I was referring to in my posts (specifically, from Protectavest, because that's what I've used) looks to me to be indistinguishable from solid at any sort of distance. I was just sitting at my kitchen table looking at the big orange splotch of Kate's new llama vest/blanket out in the field. Rifle season starts next Wednesday so we're rushing to get the animals outfitted! (Thank goodness it's only 3 weeks here - and that's for bucks; it's only 1 day for any deer.)

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #56
                                  Hey guys, I am back! Having moved to the new barn this weekend (well helping the others move as I am now horseless) we know more about the area. The entire property is 70+acres so crossing onto other land isn't going to happen as all of the surrounding land is in subdivisions. There will be hunting allowed BUT only in the early AM hours (5-7 range) when I will still be preparing for work or sound asleep!

                                  In any event I did get a neon orange FlipBelt for riding and will also be getting a vest and helmet cover. I also plan to get a bright orange saddle pad and either polo wraps or quarter sheet when I do get a new horse.

                                  Thank you all for your tips and insights, it seems I am not the only one with questions about this and I'm glad we can all learn from each other
                                  Lovebug "Bugs" 2006-2019

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                                  • #57
                                    You can find season information at www.ncwildlife.org. Be aware that deer season regs changed last year, there are new regions & some date shifts. In Raleigh, you are west of the dog line, but I have encountered plenty of folks illegally casting dogs anyway, including in a state park (who I reported to enforcement staff).

                                    On the NCWRC website & in the reg digest, you will also find the wildlife tip line & violation reporting hotline. Don't hesitate to use them if you see illegal activity (hunting from vehicles or roads, spotlighting, hunting in parks), that's an important source of information for our officers.

                                    Wear orange always - my horse has an orange breastplate & boots from Horze, I wear a reflective orange vest, even on my own farm. A rifle bullet can travel a mile easily & while I wish all hunters were like my coworkers, who pay attention to terrain & sight-lines & don't pull the trigger unless they are 110% sure what species they are shooting at, they aren't. I also hang a loud bear bell on the horse.

                                    Once rifle season starts, I don't go in the woods anymore except maybe between noon & 1 pm, if then. I count down the days until January 2nd.
                                    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                                    Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                                    We Are Flying Solo

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                                    • #58
                                      Www.helmetcovers.com has blaze orange. Mine from there has now faded from use over 7 years ... I need to reorder

                                      https://www.helmetcovers.com/shop

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                                      • #59
                                        Originally posted by Garythesquirrel View Post
                                        I wear orange and put bells on my horse. The bells do double duty as bear bells, the bears are very active here in the fall.
                                        I did this too when I rode in the woods during hunting season. We were on private property but there were poachers. I had an orange quarter sheet, orange vest, and orange helmet cover. The bells I still use even thought we are now in Texas where visibility is much better than in Minnesota. I just like them. Also I pray that feral hogs might dislike them.

                                        My horse is a palomino who could have easily been mistaken for a gigantic obese deer.

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                                        • #60
                                          I avoid areas that I know to be hunted from 5am to 10am, and then 4pm to dark. There are a lot of private property plots by me that people hunt, and would get highly upset if I were to get to close. Plus here in Michigan, there are laws against hunter harassment. ANY intentional obstruction of someones hunt can be called in and the offender could be cited with a misdemeanor. So unless you plan to apologize and never trail ride in that area again, every time you cross paths with a hunter, I would just avoid it all together.

                                          PS we hunt to feed our families, not for sport. Meat in the freezer over the winter is more important than a trail ride in my opinion. I realize that some people don't feel the same, which is their prerogative.
                                          I’d rather ride on a Mustang, than in one.

                                          BaileyAnn Neal

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