A question for the Hunters

I was out on the Millers River in Winchendon, Ma yesterday. Turns out it goes through a "wildlife management " area and it’s pheasant season. Lots of shotguns. Lots of dogs wearing bells and orange vests. Yes some of the dogs were wearing orange, as were the hunters.

Most all of the hunters were wearing orange hats and something orange on their shoulders.

I asked one guy why he belled his dog. He said it was to alert other hunters that it was a dog not a bird.

I was happy to have my bright red jacket especialy when the shot fell down on the river around me like a quick shower. I wished I had an orange hat! Bought one on the way home.

My question is this; Is my bright red coat reasonable protection or should I get an orange one?

Is there anything else I should be doing to be safe when I’m paddling where folks are hunting?



not much of a hunter anymore
but … hunters are trained through habit to look for blaze orange as pretty much the exclusive evidence of other humans ________ enough to be out there amongst them when the shooting starts.

I get a little concerned when I’m down there in the creek or river bottom when there’s gunfire. I don’t think a lot of hunters think of possible paddlers down there in the creek. If I can’t see them (and they can’t see me) I’ll sometimes call out to let them know I’m down there.

rifles vs paddles
"Hey we can shot toward the creek. There’s never anyone down there. If there is we’ll hear the outboard first." I’ve actually heard these words being spoken. This really gives me pause when putting in during hunting season.

Bird season is one thing. No one wants to be shot but chances are if you are in a creek or river and the shooter is up on land bird shot will not be fatal. Deer season is the real concern. Deer rifles can often very powerful weapons and can kill from long distances.

The fact that hunters put bells or orange on their dogs should tell you something.

safety orange
Safety orange is the coin of the realm in hunting season. Also, not a bad thing to wear while kayaking in general, especially in the fog or where being visible is a general concern. I wore a hunter orange cap while paddling on Lake Umbagog a week ago, and it was also warm and comfy. Also, on a paddling trip a couple of years ago, one of our group had a hunter orange cap on and was visible from a very very long way away.

Blaze Orange Is The Safest…

– Last Updated: Nov-03-07 11:46 AM EST –

some reds blend in with the autumn leaves.

The bells on a pointing dog tell of the vicinity that the dog is "working." When the bells go silent, the dog is on point. There are now high tech gadgets that will start to beep when the dog is not moving and on point. Luddite that I am, I hate the gadgetry.


Miss my Brittany and the great upland hunts we had.

Good manners during hunting seasons
Good manners (on both sides) go a long way toward assuring safety during hunting seasons. We live surrounded by a 2000 acre hunting area, and here are some of the general rules we follow:

  1. YES to blaze orange (for people, dogs, boats) during deer gun season, and during opening days of pheasant season and other upland bird seasons
  2. It’s fine to paddle in hunting areas (ALL river bottoms are hunting areas here in southern WI–that’s how the DNR got the money to purchase them. If you avoided hunting areas, you’d never paddle). But we don’t go into the hunting areas during deer gun season (9 days of pure chaos, with all the Chicago people coming up to hunt and generally being clueless), and opening days of the other seasons. Local hunters know the difference between a boat and a deer, and know hunting safety rules. Urban hunters can be pretty clueless (and drunk).
  3. we’re always friendly to hunters at the cars, the put-ins, etc, so they tend to like paddlers. But we don’t disturb them when they’re out in the field. We do make some noise on the river, just as we would in bear country. Paddlers and hunters and hikers tend to get along pretty well here–we’re all trying for the same thing in the long run (open space!)

Red is not very visible in low light.

I usually wear this on opening day

But then some of us kayakers are a different breed!..heheh

Word to the wise…

– Last Updated: Nov-03-07 8:00 PM EST –

Wear the blaze/safety orange; both a hat & a vest.

If rounds or shot are hitting even remotely close to you, make a lot of noise, and let people know you're around. Which is more important; Bubba loses a quail, or you get wounded or killed? NO, all hunters are NOT BUBBA; but it only takes one shot from a BUBBA's
rifle/shotgun to ruin your whole day.

About 50% of the people in the woods during any hunting season are "wanna be" hunters (they might spend a week in the wood per year/probably less); they have been drinking prior to hunting/some are drunk, and they haven't had much sleep prior to hunting.

A fancy gun, fancy gear, a high dollar dog, a hunting license, and 3 boxes of ammo does not a hunter make.

Kind of like buying a 3 thousand dollar kayak, a 3 hundred 50 dollar paddle, a 3 hundred dollar pfd, paddling around a land locked lake with 1 mile shoreline, and calling yourself a paddler.

Stay in your boat on the river,or the lake, and if you must stop, stay very close to shore. Do not take a walk into the woods; for nothing.

Never go hunting with Dick Cheney! A prime example of a "wanna be" hunter. Think those dweebs had a few toddies before they went into the woods?


Hunters are trained???
Some hunters are undoubtedly trained…and some of those are probably trained by hunters who have good sense. Some of them, however, are trained by idiots.

Either way, a dose of lead from a “trained” hunter will be just as painful [or deadly] as a dose of lead from an untrained one. In the wild I cannot distinguish between the two breeds of hunters.

Wear orange.

Be aware of the local open seasons for hunting.

When in doubt on the water, make some noise.

When possible, have some conversation with the armed men and women dressed in camouflage clothing who are out there communing with nature in the way that suits them best. They’re not necessarily the enemy. Some of them are really good folks.

Beware of red during turkey hunt season: you can be mistaken for the red beard; best time to paddle in Wis in fall is Sundays when Green Bay Packers are playing, and preferrably, winning! No one is in the woods! I often paddle in Wis., and don’t paddle through DNR lands when Packers have a bye, playing Sunday night or Monday nights; or have a bad season going late.

An orange vest would be safe if it were bulletproof!

Hunters are my neighbors
Wear two pieces of orange and enjoy the outdoors.

I wear orange every day even if just taking out the trash.

Same for the neighbors…yes people do live in woods where hunters hunt.

And we are not dead yet.

I can see the headlines now…

– Last Updated: Nov-04-07 12:41 PM EST –

Kayaker killed because he wasn't wearing his blaze orange kevlar PFD.

… yep and some can read
… better than some paddlers ";.)


– Last Updated: Nov-04-07 8:44 AM EST –

BOB I wish you did not have such a dim veiw of hunters. I will agree that there are some people that do not need to be in the woods with a firearm. But to say that half are drunk or have not had any sleep is a bold statement and not very factuall(sp). Most hunters are very enviromentaly mined because they do not want to destroy there resource. And the money that comes from license sales and the additional tax on hunting equipment helps pay for a large part of the maintance on and the areas that we as boaters enjoy.

Quit hunting
I quit hunting when it got too weird out there. I was wearing a blaze orange jacket and hat but still got shot at. One hunter shot his own horse which was wearing a blaze orange saddle blanket. Another hunter had his horse shot out from under him. He was wearing blaze orange and the horse had a blaze orange saddle blanket. Two “hunters” were arrested for armed robbery when they tried to steal someones elk at gunpoint. A group of “hunters” parked their rigs across from my camp which was pretty far in. I had scouted the area for a month ahead of the hunt. They had one tent just to store the beer and stayed drunk the whole time. Beer for breakfast. These were the idiots that almost shot me and ran off 2 different elk out from under me. This was all in the first 2 days of one season in Eastern Washington. I left early and never went back. It was too dangerous and too tempting to shoot back.

Not trying…

– Last Updated: Nov-04-07 11:55 AM EST –

Not trying to be argumentative.......

I do "not" have a dim view of hunters.
I "do" understand that they generate revenue which helps with wildlife conservation.
I admire a "real" hunter who puts food on his table.

In the past I hunted quite a lot; dove, rabbit, squirrel, and deer. We ate what we harvested.
I quit hunting after repeated run ins with drunks with guns, poachers, and weekend warriors.
Most of those incidents occured on private property; land owned by relatives, and friends who allowed me to hunt on their property.

I have a very dim view of "Bubbas with guns", poachers, trophy hunters, and "weekend warriors". There are "too damned many" of them in the woods.

Won't argue statistics with you; it is "my opinion" that 50% of hunters "aren't".


P.S. One of my blaze orange hats; given to me by a good paddling buddy(for a paddling trip during deer season), has the following custom sewn message....... "I ain't no deer".

quotation marks around "hunters"
shows you are making a distinction between real sportsmen and the fools/criminals whose actions you describe. I agree that the abundance of these types makes it very hard to continue to put food on the table the old fashioned way.

Seasons matter little to the poachers/criminals and fools. Once when paddling down Big Elk Ck in MD during summer, we kept pushing a snowy egret ahead of us. It wouldn’t fly around us to return, but kept going about a hundred yards downstream at a time for miles. Until some idiots with .22’s started shooting at it and the bullets skipped in front of our bow. Close enough that it would have seemed they were shooting at us if we hadn’t been aware of the egret. And no, they didn’t hit it. And our hollering/cursing at them chased them off. Nearest miss was about 15’ from bow. Shotgun pellets raining down from a distance with no energy left are of no concern - but bullets bouncing off water are.

Staying cautious
Most states require min 400 sq.inches hunters orange for hunters typicaly deer and hog. Which mostly involves hardwoods so it is important to be semi aware of seasons. About 3-4 months a year Oct- middle Jan.If I have to leave my boat it’s not far. I love to paddle in those months a whistle would be handy if I heard that dreaded whiss-rifle shot it’s the worst.I paddle marshes mostly in winter no problem.I am a responsable conserervative waterfowl hunter my lab and I enjoy everything that goes with it.I have more boats than I deserve.But for the grace of my HP . Enjoy