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It's that time of year again.

I've been out hiking in National Forest and Wilderness for the past couple of days. Like just about everyone else I didn't wear any sort of orange to identify myself as a "non target".

I figured why bother, it's bow and maybe muzzle loader seasons. Both primitive weapons have a very limited range. A couple of women I met early Sunday morning who were walking with their dog informed me that it's early bear rifle season.


More below the safety orange squiggle.

Accidental shootings from hunting have plummeted in number over the past twenty or so years along with "unintentional" shootings in general. Two things have affected hunter safety. Mandatory hunter ed, and safety orange.

Our state requires over 500 inches on the upper torso and 100 inches on the head. I've never seen a fish and game officer taking a tape measure to anyone's vest but I'd think the vest and hat that everyone wears is sufficient.

One hiker I saw had an orange rag on the back of his pack, his wife was carrying their baby on a carrier. I've seen other people sling a vest over their day pack. Don't do this. Go ahead and put it on. and get a hat. Vests cost four of five bucks, same with a hat, if it's cold get a knit one. The objective is to have a large piece of orange visible from 360 degrees and especially on the head, as your head is your highest point. Wearing a piece of orange shielded from sight by your back pack does no good.

I know what you are thinking, "can't the *&^% hunter tell that I'm not a deer? Yes, usually, but that's not the main reason wearing orange is helpful.

Every hunter I know who hunts with a rifle is extremely aware of how much his bullets weigh, how fast they are going, and how long it takes for one to slow down and drop to the ground as so much harmless lead. (or more commonly copper these days) I've forgotten how far a 30/06, one of the most common hunting caliber goes, but at the altitude I hunt at it can go for 5 miles.

By wearing orange you are helping anyone with a gun to understand that it's impossible to shoot anywhere in your general direction. Hunters look into the distance much more often then most people. It's likely that someone wearing orange will be seen as just a flash of orange a long long time before a hunter has a clear view of them. Orange is easily visible to the unaided eye from 3 miles away. By wearing a vest and hat you make yourself seen, even if for a split second. No one takes a shot with a human anywhere that could be hit by ricochet.

Another option is to simply stay out of the woods during the short season. When I was a kid I lived for a while at the end of a dirt road a mile from the closest neighbor. Being inside for the week of deer season was a chore. Urban adults have it much easier. Most municipal and county parks are off limit to hunting as are all National Parks.

Statistically your chances are far higher of being killed from having a vehicular collision with a deer, than of being shot by an errant bullet, but why not help your odds.

Update or in addition : I forgot to mention... Deer, elk, moose, and all ungulates I know of don't see orange, they see gray. The mountain lions will spot you easier to make a dinner of you, I've heard (but don't know for a fact) that cats see orange. Blue and shades of blue tent to be very bright for deer, so think of your blue jeans glowing blue but all the reds and oranges as shades of gray when peering through deer colored glasses.

Originally posted to ban nock at DKos on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 04:12 PM PDT.

Also republished by Hunting and Fishing Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  When is the rifle season where you live? (26+ / 0-)

    Colorado is
    deer/elk/bear oct 13-17, 20-28, November 3-11, 14-18

    Early bear Sept 2-20

    moose oct 1-14

    Lion November 18- march 31 but mostly with dogs.

    besides these regular rifle seasons there are various pronghorn seasons but no one hikes there. Also various late seasons or sometimes seasons for population control that are only announced at the last minute. The most important ones to remember are the ones on the first line labeled deer/elk/bear.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sun Sep 16, 2012 at 07:37:39 PM PDT

  •  perfect (6+ / 0-)

    I just scavanged an orange wide-brimmed hat someone had blown off their head in the cliffs of Zion. It was a very easy scramble for me to get it.

    And here I thought it would only be useful for SF Giants games....

    And remember: if we fail on climate change, nothing else matters. - WarrenS

    by LaughingPlanet on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 04:24:57 PM PDT

  •  It maybe urban legend (or would that be rural?) (5+ / 0-)

    But a farmer in Minnesota was so tired of hunters killing his cows he took to painting COW on them in day-glow orange paint. I'm not really blaming the hunters as much as pointing out how effective that coloring is. Much like the Boner's skin tone it's just not a color found in nature and stands out. And for a little humor, here's Tom Lehrer.


    If we got Mitt to be slightly less dishonest and gave him some personality he could pass as a used car salesman.

    by ontheleftcoast on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 04:27:40 PM PDT

    •  I never heard that story but it's funny. (3+ / 0-)

      Actually, Minnesota is so cold in winter I imagine some kinds of permanent paints on their coats could let those cows freeze to death.  that's what happened to some baby harp seals one year when some anti-fur protesters painted their coats.  That farmer should have made his cows some big, wide blaze orange collars instead.  The fabric isn't that expensive.

      Demagogue: one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.--H. L. Mencken

      by Ice Blue on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 05:37:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  not an urban legend: in the Ozarks in the 60s (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, ontheleftcoast

      six to eight month old calves showed up at more than one "deer processing" plant within the region covered by the church I (briefly) went to about a mile and a half from my house.

      Determined not to have our Jersey heifer calf be one of them, my parents "decorated" her with a horse-blanket: orange plaid.

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 07:12:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So some truth to the story. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackSheep1

        It has so many of the triggers for "urban legend" I just couldn't believe it. And I grew up in Minnesota. In the 70's at least Tom Lehrer was right. Every week during the season there was a hunting accident followed by the "but he/she/it looked like a deer" line. Personally I blame the alcohol consumption that was (and perhaps still is) an all too common part of hunting parties.

        If we got Mitt to be slightly less dishonest and gave him some personality he could pass as a used car salesman.

        by ontheleftcoast on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 08:13:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  to be fair, 'twas 'cause (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ontheleftcoast

          we had a "posted - No Hunting" sign at every gate and corner, but still had people shoot over the property.

          Sigh.

          LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

          by BlackSheep1 on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 08:38:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Route 17 (NYS) Deer Check Station ca. 1979 (0+ / 0-)

            A few NYC fellows of latin/european heritage showed up with a Fiat, who's windshield was cracked from the weight of the carcass on the roof.

            Proudly they claimed to have shot the biggest deer of anyone they'd seen all day, and that it took the efforts of all of them, plus others who remained at camp to load said "deer" on the roof of the Fiat.

            It wasn't a deer.  We'd have an easier time if it was Maine and moose season, as only a moose would resemble a full-grown and somewhat later-aged Mule.  All thousand pounds of it.

            Their car was deemed unsafe to operate, as the roof was caving-in, and the windshield was fragmenting.  The "deer" was confiscated, and they were advised to call for a ride.
            No charges were filed.  The owner of the mule never came forward, and it may indeed have been a stray - as they claimed to have shot it in a forested area, bordering cornfields.

  •  Yes, time to risk your life going for a hike. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ice Blue, 43north

    This time of the year, when millions of acres of public lands become unsafe for benign non-consumptive recreation.

    Forget about a quiet and peaceful night in a backwoods National Forest campground between now and when the snows fall.

    Forget about feeling safe in the woods knowing that they're filling up with urbanites and their one or two days of fire-arm training.

    Even given that 90% of hunters are responsible, honorable conservationists, that still leaves 10% drunk yahoos out there just for the chance to shoot something, anything.

    My family has a long proud tradition of hunting, including grandparents who literally survived the winter with the venison they brought home.   I'm not anti-hunting.

    I'm anti-drunk-yahoos in the woods with guns, shooting shit up for the hell of it.

    And that's what I feel our national forests become, every fall.

  •  A friend of mine was shot by a black powder (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock, Ice Blue, BachFan, 43north

    hunter.  My guy is a police officer and a former combat shooting champion at the world class level.  

    The .50 caliber Hawken round hit him in the leg, shattering the bone.  Said he came close to returning fire before he realized the shooter was just an idiot, not someone trying to assassinate him.  The idiot was lucky.  My friend would not have missed because of his skill level as a competitive shooter.  During deer season, I do not venture into the woods unless I have good reason, and ALWAYS wear bright orange or red if I do.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 05:06:33 PM PDT

  •  I stay out of the woods (4+ / 0-)

    but good reminder.

    •  I live in the north woods of Wisconsin. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, 43north

      Deer hunting is practically the eighth sacrament around here.  My dog has to go for her walk every day.  Fortunately, I know my neighbors.  They're all responsible hunters.

      It does make sense to wear as many bright colors as possible.  I used to think anything orange was bright enough--that is, until I looked at the old oak leaves still hanging on the trees.   Pumpkin orange is practically camouflage!  Blaze orange is your best bet.  If you don't have anything in that, I suppose that high-vis yellow would be better than an ordinary jacket.

      Demagogue: one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.--H. L. Mencken

      by Ice Blue on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 05:57:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  non-animal/non-foliage colors (0+ / 0-)

        Avoid:  brown, red, white, orange, yellow, green, gray, black

        Use:  bright blue, lime-yellow, day-glow (international) orange, bright pink.

        I used-to hunt in a USN-issue orange Flight Suit.  It was faded just-enough to blend into the forest floor, and make me "invisible" to the deer.  Equally so to human traffic as well.

        I've felt just-as safe if full hunting camo - and not moving - as in blaze orange - but that's me.  I do not recommend this for hikers and backpackers - at all.

        I'd rather not be shot-at again (as happened when wearing the old "hunter red and black plaid" wool jacket in the early '70s.

        "Something caught my eye, and I snapped-off a shot" was the guy's excuse.
        He wasn't drunk.
        His problem was he's trigger-happy: "I only get 2 days in the woods all year".

        Luckily he was a shit-shot, and I was in sufficient timber not to catch a round.  I fired a shot in the air - and then yelled to him:  
        "Knock it off - or the next one's for you."

        That's not my only idiot hunter experience, but it's memorable.

        DO NOT under any circumstances wear your Carhartt® brown duck coveralls or jacket into the woods.
        I've hauled more dead people out of the woods with that one item of clothing on, than any other.
        Tell your spouse: "Thanks... it really looks warm, and I'll wear it ice fishing - not hunting."

  •  YES PLEASE (6+ / 0-)

    wear orange in the woods. I'm a bow hunter, and I've passed on a lot of shots because I wasn't 100% sure of my target. Thankfully passed, because I've drawn a bead on one or two casual hikers just exploring the woods. They won't see me, if I'm camo-ed up properly, but I really really really need to be able to see them.

    In rifle season, my whole jacket is a blaze orange camo pattern-it still breaks up for the sake of the whitetails but keeps me visible to everyone hanging out in the blinds in November.

    Nobody is normal because everyone is different- my eight year old daughter

    by left rev on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 05:22:42 PM PDT

  •  In Wisconsin, rifle deer season goes from (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock, hazey

    sunup the Saturday before Thanksgiving until sundown the Sunday after.  Ye, gawds, you ought to see my tiny town that First Saturday.  It is full--and I mean full--of trucks and cars either carrying dead deer to be registered or they're headed to a tavern so the occupants can get drunk.  

    Good thing blaze orange outer garments are both cheap and easy to find around here.  They start at under a buck fifty for a knit cap.

    Demagogue: one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.--H. L. Mencken

    by Ice Blue on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 06:14:21 PM PDT

  •  One week deer season? I wish! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1

    Not so lucky here in NY - it lasts  from Nov. 17th to Dec. 9th, and is preceeded by 6 weeks of bowhunting, and followed by a week of muzzleloading. So from Oct 1 to the middle of Dec. there are risks in being afoot in the woods, even on private, posted property..  

    I live on a large farm  which has been conspicuously and continuously posted for decades. We still have to flush out our annual crop of stupid deer hunters.

    I say stupid because they apparently can't read the posted signs which are clearly headlined "Wildlife Preserve";  they cut my wire fences so they can enter on ATVs; and they toss their empty beer cans all around in my woods.  If drinking alcohol while wandering around in the woods with a loaded rifle isn't STUPID, I don't know what is.

    We try to keep our woodlots as quiet sanctuaries for animals during the hunting season which unfortunately conflicts with many important farm chores for months.

    I used to take a more tolerant position on hunting. But years of dealing with unrepentant - and aggressive - poachers who figure because I am small woman that I will go all over faint if I have to stand up to armed, sometimes intoxicated, men has changed my feelings to loathing.

    If I catch 'em (heck, I hunt  them on occasions), they either give me a look at their tag or I'll stick to them like glue until they leave my premises. Once I sat out directly in front of a poacher for more than three hours before he gave in and left.  The hunting was poor  that day, perhaps because I sang and recited poetry for most of the time.

     The pity is that even when I have photographic evidence of them hunting, shooting, gutting and carrying animals off my land that I can't get the local magistrate's court to do more than give them a suspended sentence - with the condition  that they not violate it on  my property again for the rest the season. But they are right back again the following year.

    Araguato

    •  Araguato: what you need (0+ / 0-)

      is a better magistrate. The one in your area elected?

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 07:17:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  from her last diary: (0+ / 0-)
        This town is solidly Republican; little gets done that isn't directed from the local R-Party committee.  Indeed it's almost redundant to hold the town meetings afterward since most of the decisions are made in camera at the Committee Meeting.
        Methinks being a lefty/democrat/tree-hugging/poetry-reading pinko-commie (Latino?) Kossack in a white upstate Republican town probably doesn't sit so well with the magistrate.

        Who's she "harassing" out of the woods?  Tom, who like his dad and uncle used-to hunt that place back when the Johnson's owned it?  Why he's a driver for the local Volunteer Fire Department... pillar of the community.
        Pete, who's the sole mechanic in-town, who's married to the Johnson girl, and logged those woods with his future father-in-law back in his high-school days?  That was as-much his place as theirs over the years.  Sad that the Johnsons never did any estate planning, and had to put the place up for sale after Dad's death.

        What my hypothetical illustrates is that ownership changes, and you buck a history of "we've always hunted here.

        I've been "the hammer" for a non-profit who took over a 400 acre farm, and the Conservation Easement precluded motorized vehicles of a non-farm nature on the land.
        No snow machines, no ATVs, no pickup or SUVs.  I regulated hunting and issued only 24 permits, precluding all others - and all vehicles from the land.

        The penalties for my non-enforcement were detailed and severe - the penalties for those violating my enforcement were insignificant.  Traffic ticket sort of thing... likely to be dismissed in Court.
        Liberal-leaning Town, County, and a blue State... and the results are the same.

        Change the trespassing laws to have criminal implications for "armed trespass" - and you avoid charges of "hunter harassment" - which is a crime in certain states.

        You, being armed, are on my land - illegally.  If that's a misdemeanor offense, then the Court would take greater action.  

        90 days in jail and seizure of the firearm if on duly posted property, and/or you're advised to leave.

    •  I disagree with those who think stereotyping (0+ / 0-)

      makes good fiction, I think it's just lazy writing. When done right it can often be humorous, but for regular fiction it shouts, "been said already", and to be recognized as humor it has to push the limits such that most readers realize it's humor.

      The bit with the cut wires and sanctuary etc was ok. "Farm chores" doesn't get said by farmers, only hobbyists. and where is the part about lack of dental hygiene? Plus some speaking in dialect, if need be you can just plagiarize from Huck Finn which is chock a block full of great local dialect. No one can tell upstate NY from downriver Missouri anyway.

      Big glaring omission, no mention of inbreeding.

      I should devote a post just to stories, what the taxidermist said when they brought him the horse, and so on.

      Good of you to make the effort though.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 07:37:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know a few ex-city full-time farmers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock

        who say "farm chores".  
        Like wearing bib overalls, Muck Boots® and a Carhartt® jacket, they feel "farmy" doing so.

        They really do farm full-time, and make a stab at earning a living from it.  
        I give them more credit than the guy in the Escalade® driving through the gate from a day at the Investment Brokerage, waiving to Pablo, his ranch foreman.
        He's the: "All Hat, no Cattle" of Ross Perot fame, and wouldn't know bullshit from buckwheat, while calling himself a "Rancher".

        Pablo knows "chores" from "farm chores"... and probably calls all of it: mucho trabajo, por poco dinero, as I do.

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