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Staying Safe during Hunting Season

Tips for staying safe around hunters in the backcountry.

Autumn is hunting season, and each year, hunters come out to pursue elk, deer, and other game.

Click here for more information on hunting regulations and seasons from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Get the latest alerts on Twitter at

Hikers exploring our public lands in August, September and October in particular should be aware of these hunting seasons, and take some steps to help ensure their own safety. Please keep in mind that most national forest lands in Washington state are open to hunting.

Below are some tips on staying safe when you're out on the hiking trails during hunting season:

Hunting for game birds. Photo courtesy of Andy Walgamott.
Dress to be seen during hunting season. Photo by Greg Younger courtesy of Flickr.

  • Wear bright clothing. Make yourself more visible. Choose colors that stand out, like red, orange or green, and avoid blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing. You can purchase safety-orange backpack covers and vests here.
  • Make noise. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation as you walk to alert hunters to your presence. Sound carries well across mountain basins, and hunters should be listening for any sounds of animal movement.
  • Make yourself known. If you do hear shooting, raise your voice and let hunters know that you are in the vicinity.
  • Know when hunting seasons are. Continue to hike, but learn about where and when hunting is taking place. Bear season begins in August, followed by grouse, deer and several other species in September. October is the high point of hunting season.
  • Know your own comfort level. If hunting makes you uneasy, choose a hike in a location where hunting is not allowed, such as a national park or a state park.
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