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Trail Riding During Hunting Season

Stay Safe While Trail Riding

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Most horseback riders are grateful when summer heat gives way to cooler autumn weather. What better time for a leisurely trail ride? Autumn is very often hunting season too. That may conjure up romantic images of pink-coated riders racing across open fields.

The reality is that today’s hunters are more likely to be sitting in a tree stand, wearing camouflage and holding a loaded gun. Incidents between horseback riders and hunters are not unheard of.

Sadly, horses have been shot from beneath their riders by over anxious hunters. Even horses and other livestock at pasture are at risk during hunting seasons, especially if their pastures border on forests.

All sports enthusiasts have to learn to respect each other and certainly in the case of hunting, stay out of each other’s way. Horseback riding on the trails during hunting season means riders have to take extra caution.

Before you horseback ride:

  • Find out what the hunting regulations are in your area such as what time guns may be fired and what animals are in season.

  • Try to avoid known hunting areas.

  • Try to stay in open fields where you will be more visible. A horse traveling through the trees could easily by game, but will be more obvious in the open.

  • Avoid riding at peak times such as early morning. The lower light of dusk and dawn makes it more difficult for everyone to see.

  • No matter what the season, when headed out on trail with your horse, tell someone your planned route and what time you will be back.

  • If you meet hunters tell them your planned route. Try to keep the communication open, no matter what your opinion towards hunting.

When you ride your horse:

  • Ride with a buddy. Your horses will be more relaxed and you'll have help (or a witness) if you run into problems.

  • Wear a ‘hunting orange’ vest. Blaze, flourescent or hunter orange is the standard color worn by hunters for high visibility in wooded areas.Compare Prices

  • Wear a brightly colored helmet cover.Compare Prices

  • Make or buy a brightly colored rump sheet for your horse. If you don't want to buy one, it's easy to make one from an old bedsheet or drape.

  • Tie small sleigh bells to your stirrups. Keep in mind though, that you can't use noise to interrupt a hunt.

  • Keep a whistle Compare Pricesin your pocket, should you need to sound an alert.

  • If there is any chance you will be near gun fire, be sure you are on a horse that is used to it.

    (Make sure your horse is accustomed to the feel of a rump sheet, and the sounds of whistles and bells before setting out.)

    At home:

    • Keep your horses close to your house and stables during peak hunting times.

    • Check your fence lines frequently and check for gates accidentally left open.

    Most hunters are conscientious sportsmen who follow the rules. Be respectful and courteous. Hopefully they will respond in kind. Remember that while we can enjoy our sport almost year-round hunters have a legal right to theirs for a relatively short time.

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