’Tis the Season — for Safety

Gun hunting season begins Nov. 20

Though I haven’t gone hunting in more than 15 years, I still have fond memories of waking up before dawn, gearing up with my dad and uncle, and heading out into the woods. I can vividly remember climbing into my tree stand and sitting quietly for hours as the sun rose slowly and the forest came alive before me. 

Hunting is an interesting activity because so much of it is about what happens before and after you actually attempt to fell anything. The actual hunting part makes up such a small percentage of the time you spend doing it: You might spend well over a dozen hours engaging in the activity during a hunting weekend, but the majority of that time is spent in quiet contemplation, alone with your thoughts as you observe the natural scene unfolding before you.

Therefore, when you’re heading to and leaving your hunting spot, safety is of the utmost importance. Gun hunting season is Nov. 20-28 this year, and whether you’re out for a deer or just out for a walk, many of the safety considerations are the same. Keep these tips in mind: 

• Visibility is the most important piece of the puzzle. Growing up, I was adorned from head to toe with blaze orange: bib overalls, a puffy coat, a matching hat and gloves, all in bright orange camouflage. I waddled through the trails like some sort of tactical pumpkin, but I knew I could be seen. Orange is the hunter’s code for “human,” so it’s not a bad idea to invest in a hat, vest or long-sleeved shirt in bright orange to wear at this time of year whenever you’re out in nature. 

• To maximize your safety while in hunting areas, time your hike appropriately. The majority of hunting takes place at dawn and dusk, and hunters generally take a break at midday – that’s when it’s safest to venture out. 

• If you want to reduce your risk even more, simply choose a location where hunting is prohibited. There are no-hunting zones within the state parks and at some Door County Land Trust properties. Plus, there are several county parks that do not allow hunting, such as Lily Bay, John Miles, the Lyle-Harter-Matter Sanctuary and the Ahnapee Trail. 

Who’s Hunting When?

Here are the dates for the 2021-22 deer-hunting season, provided by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

• Archery and crossbow: Sept. 18 – Jan. 9 

• Youth deer hunt: Oct. 9-10

• Gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities: Oct. 2-10

• Gun: Nov. 20-28

• Muzzleloader: Nov. 29 – Dec. 8

• Statewide antlerless: Dec. 9-12

• Antlerless-only holiday hunt: Dec. 24 – Jan. 1