It’s that time of year! Massachusetts has started painting it’s canvas with fiery autumn tones and I bet you are gearing up with your dog for some epic fall adventures. I love this magical time of year!
But wait…. before you head out on your jaunt on the trails…. remember… It’s hunting season!
So what does that mean?
While our woods become a shared playground for hunters and hikers alike, the spotlight is on safety (as it always is with me), and it’s not your typical “orange is the new black” scenario. In this post, we’re about to dive into the vibrant world of orange gear, your ultimate fashion statement for this season. Let’s explore how adding a splash of orange can turn your hiking adventures into safe and stylish excursions for all.
Hunting Season in Massachusetts
The first tip is to know is the dates of hunting season and if hunting is permitted at the location you plan to venture out in.
As an example: deer season kicks off October 2nd for archery in zones 10-14 and October 16th for zones 1-9. Shotgun season for deer is November 27th- December 9th this year. Click here for the best up-to-date Hunting Season Calendar 2023. I like to know if guns are in the area!
*** Hunting on Sunday is NOT permitted in Massachusetts! Get naked and head out there!
Research the property you plan to visit beforehand to learn if hunting is allowed. If being in the woods during hunting season gives you anxiety, find a location where hunting is not allowed, or plan your outing for a Sunday or another day outside of hunting season.
Safety and Visibility
Visibility is key for both humans and dogs during hunting season in Massachusetts. It’s crucial for all outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers and their canine companions, to make themselves easily noticeable.
Wearing bright orange or fluorescent gear, often referred to as ‘hunter orange,’ enhances visibility. This vibrant color stands out against the natural woodland palette, making you and your dog highly noticeable to hunters.
It’s simple. It’s vital. Throw on orange! It minimizes the risks of accidents. It allows hunters to identify your presence from a distance.
The primary concern is the risk of your dog being mistaken for game animals by hunters. My previous dog, Kota, was fawn color and she was just over 70 lbs. Wolf? Deer? I didn’t trust these hunters! We have conservation land that we own behind our house, and hunters are out there. When Kota was in our backyard, I would still put her in some orange. Yes, we had a deer shot on our property at one time.
What should my dog wear? I highly recommend a vest.
I’m a big fan of the hunter orange vest for safety. Vest are comfortable and easy to put on and take off your pup. Most have either a clasp or velcro attachment. Here are a few “go to” brands for vests:
I will just mention Kurgo because that is the vest that I have. Unfortunately, as I write this, they do not have a vest on the market.
This is my FAVORITE dog company for gear. I do plan on ordering one of their reflective dog vests. They make high quality gear for hiking, canicross, and skijoring. You can check out a previous blog post that I did on Running with Your Dog and I mention some of their products that I love.
Bandanas are great for a smaller pop of color. They are inexpensive and easy to make if you are a DIY kinda person.
Safety PUP XD offers a variety of products from vests and bandanas to leashes.
3. Collars and Leashes
Go all out! A blaze orange collar and leash are perfect to tie the look all together! I recommend Nonstop Dogwear for these – they have a variety of collars and leashes that also have reflective strip.
When purchasing any new equipment for your pup, make sure you read all of the guidelines for perfect sizing and fit so that your dog is comfortable on your outing together. These companies have great service and are always willing to answer questions.
Blaze orange is NOT just for your dog! It’s important that you stay safe, too. Grab an orange ball cap or even just a vest to put over your jacket. Any pop of orange to stand out is helpful to keep you safe.
My husband and I have these blaze orange ball caps that are reflective that are from Port Authority. I wear the cap for trail running, too!
If you don’t ‘want to deal with a LOT of the hunting challenges, there are quite a few locations in Massachusetts, such as state parks, conservation areas, and trails that are safer.
Always be sure to check the specific regulations of each park or reserve, as rules can change, and hunting may be allowed in certain areas during designated seasons. Additionally, ensure that your dog is kept on a leash and that you follow any posted rules and guidelines for pet owners while visiting these locations.
Located on the Boston’s north shore in Newburyport, Maudslay State Park offers a peaceful setting for dog owners to enjoy nature. Hunting is typically not allowed in the park.
This state forest in North Andover is dog-friendly, and it offers a variety of trails for hikers. Hunting is allowed in some areas, so please check for hunting season information.
ALWAYS carry a first aid kit for your dog. I have the Kurgo First Aid Kit that lives in my car and in my backpack during adventures. As I was previously a professional dog walker, I always make sure I had one with me.
One more extremely important safety tip: Follow the leash laws. I’m a bit fired up a the moment on leash laws as I was photographing at a location last night that was “leash required”. Leash laws ensure that dogs are kept under control and do not have the opportunity to chase, harass, or disturb wildlife. Many animals, especially birds and small mammals, can be easily frightened or stressed by the presence of an unleashed dog. This stress can have negative effects on their health and well-being. This location had many birds and it was the big reason the leash law was “supposedly” enforced.
I’m disgusted with the selfishness of people that could not follow this rule for safety and to protect the animals. Can’t follow the rules? Go elsewhere or find a “sniffspot” local to you.
Have a fun and safe hiking season this fall in Massachusetts or wherever your adventures take you! Be courteous. Set an example for others to follow. And remember: safety first!