any tips for paddling during hunting season?

@Celia said:
I suspect your crack about deer is lakes was about my post, but I am sincerely confused about how you got someone shooting at a deer in the middle of the water from what I said about being nearer shore where a deer might stop to drink. Perhaps the deer in Idaho only drink from ponds and rivers where paddlers are banned?
The distance that bullet can go with dangerous velocity is at least the width of smaller rivers and streams that otherwise make for nice fall paddling around here.

Celia - my point wasn’t about deer in the middle of the water. I don’t know anyone who relishes the idea of retrieving a deer from water even near shore. Maybe hunting is different elsewhere, but I can’t say I have ever seen or heard of hunters actually taking a shot at a deer that is at the edge of navigable water for a drink. Every hunter with any experience knows that the shot animal doesn’t always drop dead where it stands, and taking such a shot bears the risk of the deer leaping into the deeper water before expiring. How many deer hunters come equipped with waders or drysuits? Ambushing a deer going to or coming from water, yes, that is common - but at or in the water…not so much.

So, yeah - another tip. Avoid early morning and late evening. Those are the most active times for waterfowl and big game hunting.

Apologies for cranky there - I hadn’t thought of the running after being hit part. Should have, seen it often enough over the years with one crossing the road at full tilt.
I am happy to hear that in your neck of the woods hunters would not be likely to take such a shot. But in NJ we grew up learning that however irresponsible a hunter could be, someone would achieve that standard. And here in NY state, while there are many hunters that are just fine I have also seen or heard reliable stories of real aholes. I have seen myself hunters stop a car and hop out to take a shot at a deer in the meridian between the north and south lanes of a major highway for ex. Much as I hate it, probably a good thing that the state cleared out a lot of the wooded stretches of the meridians over the last number of years. A friend from the north country did see hunters heading south with a colt tied to their roof once. Downstate plates on the car. It is not uncommon for horse owners in some areas to paint a huge orange shape on their animals, and it is usual to keep critters closer to home during hunting season.
The only ones I have no complaints about are the bow hunters, they seem not to have the major accidents. The ones with guns - I will eat deer meat if I can get and respect many of them. But there are too many bad ones out there.

in our state it is illegal to shoot a deer in the water or from a boat. This is true I believe for a number of other states too… middle of the day there are few hunters hunting. many states have only a 2 week gun season for deer. Bird shot isn’t near as dangerous as buck shoot or bullets. The gun season for deer in SC is from Oct to the first of January in my part of the state. So I just paddle on then too. I would be more concerned with the dogs reaction and try to see if gun training techniques might alleviate the fear.

Hunting laws are only as good as people abiding by them. The majority of incidents where someone was seriously damaged or even killed that I read about every year are when hunters act outside of the laws.
I am sure that both NJ and NY have lots of laws forbidding the behavior that I mention above. I just scanned the NJ regs for hunting with a gun and pretty much everything we ran into as kids growing up is and likely was then still illegal. Likely would find the same in NY laws.

Most of the best hunters I know drive will north of even the middle of NY to be able to hunt safely. That is, not get shot by another hunter. Some get permission to shoot on posted land owned by friends or relatives, so they won’t be around careless imports from further south.

I agree the dog being scared is a problem. But if I am in a group with a canoe containing a barking dog in hunting season it feels a little safer.

Celia I do 99% of my hunting with a longbow even in gun season. Our archery season is 2 weeks, but we have 4 months of deer hunting with guns. Ate more venison than beef when the kids were growing up. We had a 10 deer limit and up your way it is a 1 or 2 deer limit. Where I live hunting is a different culture than in many Northern and Midwestern states. I think in those states with a short gun season you run into many more people hunting on any day, and all the yahoos are out during that short time period along with the responsible hunters. Those states do have long bow seasons. They also have many more people that’s why the gun seasons are so short. Here opening day and Saturdays get the most activity. Sunday no hunting on public land is allowed. I suggest checking out the hunting regulations for the state you paddle as they differ drastically between states. For instance the low country of SC they use dogs to hunt deer, up your way it is illegal and a dog running deer stands a good chance of being shot. Some States only allow shot guns not rifles during deer season because of hunter density as buck shot doesn’t carry as far and is considered less dangerous because of that.

In over 50 years of hunting in FL, GA, SC, and CO I have not experienced what many here seem to perceive as a problem. Though I have only hunted with a gun in FL and SC. I have no experience with the “Army of Orange” that descend upon the woods in the Northeast and Midwest. Of course it is wise to be prudent and safe`when people with guns are in the woods. Accidents do happen, and the risk of encountering stupid or criminal can be found any day no matter what time of year.

best 30 yard practice with the longbow

Play banjo music.

LOL I have paddled and hunted along the Chattooga River. Burt grew up in my home town and was the baby sitter for two boys I grew up with.

Well…it appears that hunting in the eastern US is different. Is land part of the issue? Is public land in “not-the-west” concentrated around rivers and lakes? That would make a difference in how deer hunters act.

More cool ideas and a nice discussion. Thanks!

I’m not too worried about getting shot while on the water…since now I will avoid paddling on small lakes during hunting season if I see hunters or a blind because even if they shoot in a different direction the sound of someone unloading 4 rounds of 12 gauge is a bit rattling. The farmer that owns the land at the end of our street lets friends and family hunt his land, so my dilemma is whether to continue walking through his property to use my favorite put-in. I’ve decided to continue going but not as often, and yes I will for sure avoid dawn and dusk. I actually bumped into a couple of young men that planned to hunt the land and also saw a bow case out there one time, so I know there are hunters out there.

I do like the idea of a jingle bell or radio on low volume while walking through the woods.

I am all for mounting a cannon on the boat since I think every canoe should have a modest deck gun and mini torpedos (for defensive purposes of course).

Castoff, it’s good advice about the gun training. So you think the coonhound is trainable? Hmmm. I did read a bit about the training and given that neither of us will ever hunt I’m not sure we’ll follow up on that. To be honest it’s ok if she is a bit more sensitive than me about gunfire. That’s also a nice grouping of arrows. I used to be able to keep a group within the size of a coffee can lid at 20-25 yards with my compound bow. Did you see any of the recent world championship competition where the compounds shoot at 50 meters and the regular bows at 70? And they just keep dropping arrows into the bullseye? Kind of makes you wonder what archers might have been capable of in the past.

As far as deer running into water after being shot, I don’t know. The local farmer has about 100 acres and there are at least four blinds on it and all are near the river with a couple right on it…but they are hunting the deer that hang out in the soybean fields.

I may be luckier than I realized. It’s pretty rural around here…so no army of orange and the hunters are real, experienced sportsmen…but not rural enough that folks jump out of their cars to take a shot!

Pic shows Zoey sniffing the areas where deer had bedded down in the soybean field on the way to the river.

It is simple density. More people and less space. And some issues that may relate to features… I can’t think of many places where I might paddle to be able to experience a lovely fall shoreline that are not also someplace that hunters might be near. If I stay where there are houses all the way not so much of an issue, but it is tough to pull up for a lunch break when all the shoreline is private and developed.

I was doing horse care at a therapeutic riding facility at one point, a small island of not developed land at least as far as houses go along with a horse facility right next door. Then a development adjacent. I don’t think either horse place had more than maybe 10 acres, squiggled between stuff. More than once we had to pull the horses in because they were freaking out from hunters shooting pretty much right at the edge of then properties. Called the police every time and they made the hunters stop, but that call had to go out more than once each fall. When I had a horse boarded at a place in another local county we could not ride the trails in a wooded strip that ran between and behind some houses in the fall, again hunters. This is upstate NY, not the burbs of NYC.

I do pause at the idea of space changing how deer hunters act. As I said a lot of the decent ones I know takes pains to avoid being out with the rest of them. Those guys don’t act any differently than good hunters elsewhere, they just may drive further to behave responsibly about safety. It doesn’t sanction anyone being careless because things are more crowded.

The farmer mentioned in the above post probably has a small number of friend he lets hunt on his property, and odds are they get their deer fairly quickly if near active crop fields. This is another way to improve safety., that could work in more developed areas.

Tom I didn’t see the recent world championship competition, but yes some amazing shooting can be done with a bow. With a bow sight, range finder or known yardage, and a consistence technique the accuracy is excellent. A coffee can lid group at 25 yards will get the job done, and is good shooting. In 91 I switched back from a compound to a traditional bow without sights as almost every deer I have shot at are within 25 yards. Those long shots with a bow at an unpredictable animal is taking a chance of wounding it in my opinion because they have time to move or turn before the arrow gets there. I am not always that accurate at 30 yards with my bow of course, but I have won several big 3D tournaments in the primitive class (all wood bow and arrows without sights, and maybe the archers are a bit primitive too). I use to shoot the bow almost every day.

English longbow archers of the past would shoot the wand ( a post ) at 100 yards in competition. The law required every boy to have a bow and arrows when they reached a certain age. On holidays they would shoot in competition. Tennis was banned. They practice from childhood and the skeleton of the medieval longbow men is discernibly different from other men because of this. They shot 100-150 pound longbows with heavy ash arrows that would carry as far as 300 yards. Their rate of fire was far superior to the cross bow and musket, but it took years of practice and training to produce skill and strength. Where as the gun could be mastered much more quickly. Most of the feudal nations at the time didn’t want an armed peasantry like the English had for the obvious reason they could revolt with a serious weapon that could down knights in armor.

As for hunting I love being in the woods, being still and quiet and watching the world. This year I have had a coyote within 25 yards, a bobcat within 20 yards, a beaver at 10 yards, and three otters at 10 feet. Got to watch the mama otter and her 2 half grown pups inter act with 5 wood ducks which eventually flew off. We inherited 60 acres of farm land (returned to forest) with a 3 acre pond where I sometimes hunt in a blind near the water. It is near a persimmon tree which animals like to feed on when they drop. Saw a snapping turtle under the tree once feeding too. Watched a red tailed hawk take a squirrel on the ground, but I hunt mostly on public land. Archery requires the animal to be close unlike a rifle. You spend much more time watching deer than shooting them as a result. I like that aspect of bowhunting. Last Saturday I let a young buck under 20 yards walk because it was such a beautiful day, and our retirement economics don’t require filling the freezer like it did when raising 3 kids. Besides I have one in the freezer already. These days a season without taking a deer is still successful as far as I am concerned because of the time spent afield.

I can more easily kill a wild deer that has the odds in it’s favor, than kill and eat an animal I raised which relied on me daily. Some how that feels like a betrayal to me, and I also become attached. We all kill to survive, but most of us delegate this responsibility to farmers and corporations. We rarely consider the death of what we eat. Still we are all complicit in the slaughter. Of course with our society and culture it isn’t really practical for people to grow, or raise, or hunt and fish for their next meal. This tends to separate us from the cold hard fact that to live then something has to die on a regular basis, be it plant or animal. I have a friend that never buys any meat. He fishes and hunts to fill his freezer (he grew up in Cajun country). I respect a vegans choice of diet too, but it still kills. Heck the vast expanse of farm land has impacted many animals adversely as it causes the greatest loss of habitat.

With the apex predator populations so greatly reduced hunting becomes about the only way to maintain a healthy population of animals. Coyotes are somewhat filling the space that the red and grey wolf once held. Mountain lions are non existent over much of their range in the east. Bears are more common but take only fawns in the spring. This leaves people to fill the gap.

Enough this is a paddling forum, and I realize many folks aren’t interested or even object to this topic.

You are a Primitive after all. A rather loquacious one.

I just went thru an interesting thread on FB about the personal and ethical choices involved in eating meat. If it helps, a thread started by a paddler,

If they are hunting ducks, do NOT go there in an Anas Acuta!

They might play “pin the tail” on the kayak!

Tom Lehrer’s comments:

Well said, Castoff! Another point is that in many areas there is so large a deer population that they’re eating all the new hardwood saplings so the forest cannot regenerate, and depriving other animals of food and habitat. Not their fault, of course, but an issue nevertheless.

A responsible hunter would never be a problem for any kayaker. Unfortunately as in most things, you have to worry about the yahoos.

The hunters I know hate and fear the yahoos as much as you do.