Hunting Season Opens: Refresh Your Safety Tips
August 1 marks the start of bear hunting season across the state, and elk season in some parts of eastern Washington. Hikers often don't expect to see hunters in forests until peak hunting season in October, but it's always a good idea to refresh your hiking safety tips at the start of the season.
Hiking during hunting season: wear orange, make noise
Below are some tips to stay safe on trails during hunting season, the first of which is to know when and where you might encounter hunters on your hikes:
- Know when hunting seasons are. Bear season begins in August, followed by grouse, deer and several other species in September. October is the high point of hunting season. Check more hunting season dates.
- Wear bright clothing and gear. Make yourself more visible. Hunting orange is best, but at the very least choose colors that stand out, like red, orange or pink. Avoid blacks, browns, earth-toned greens. You can purchase safety-orange backpack covers and vests here.
- If you hike with a dog, keep your pup on leash and consider having them wear a brightly-colored pack, coat or an old, orange t-shirt. Dogs or stock can easily be mistaken for bears, deer or other game, so make sure they're clearly off-limits.
- Make noise and make yourself known. 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. If you do hear shooting, raise your voice and let hunters know that you are in the vicinity.
- Know your own comfort level. If the idea of hiking during any hunting season makes you uneasy, choose a hike in a location where hunting is not allowed, such as one of our three national parks or more than 100 Washington State Parks.