Hunting season begins

It’s that time of year again ….HUNTING SEASON. Deer hunters are scouring forests and fields hoping their efforts pay off.

The main times for hunting activity in Grey-Bruce and southern Ontario are during the main gun hunting season during the first week of November and the first week in December. Archery hunting has already started. It runs until December 30.

How does this affect the public? You may not realize it but the onus is on users of public and private lands to know when hunting is taking place. Public spaces may have signs warning recreational users that they may be sharing the property with hunters.

On Crown Lands signs may warn that hunters could be present, and that they would be wearing blaze orange vests which are seen for long distances.

Private property is another story. Here it’s up to the public to find out if hunting is taking place and if a safety issue could exist.

Hikers are advised to wear very bright colours and be on the lookout for hunters. Many conservation areas ban hunting so they would be the most appropriate areas for hiking at this time of the year. The best rule for non-hunters is to use common sense. If you feel uneasy about outdoor recreation during hunting season, follow these rules and wearing hunter blaze orange, you can continue to enjoy our outdoor spaces.

· Find out where and when hunting is taking place and plan your recreation activities accordingly.

· Wear bright clothing (like hunter blaze orange). Make yourself more visible. Choose colors that stand out, like bright, fluorescent red or orange. Avoid earth-toned and animal-colored clothing.

· Protect your dog. Tie brightly-colored fabric or a bandana around your dog’s neck or buy a hunter blaze orange dog vest, available from sporting goods stores.

· Make noise. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation as you walk to alert hunters to your presence.

· Be courteous. Once a hunter is aware of your presence, don’t make unnecessary noise that disturbs wildlife. Avoid confrontations.

· Make yourself known. If you do hear shooting, raise your voice and let hunters know that you are nearby.

· Choose an alternative place or date. If you don’t feel comfortable out in the woods at this time of year, choose an area where hunting is not allowed, like most (but not all) provincial parks, check ahead to be sure.

The final word: wear bright colours, travel in areas where it’s unlikely that hunting is taking place. Keep pets on a leash. Realize that deer are on the move as it is their mating season (the rut). Be extra vigilant when driving, especially near dawn and dusk. If you see one deer crossing the highway there are likely more nearby out of sight. SLOW DOWN! The most heavily hunted seasons last only a few weeks. Find out when they occur and schedule your activities around them. Use common sense.

ISSUED AS A PUBLIC SERVICE BY THE BRUCE PENINSULA SPORTSMEN’S ASSOCIATION now celebrating 57 years of conservation. PHOTOS-Ontario Federation of Anglers And Hunters