Forest Service offers hunting safety tips
ASHEVILLE — With archery season for deer hunting rapidly approaching, the U.S. Forest Service National Forests in North Carolina reminds hunters and non-hunters to practice safety when visiting the Croatan, Uwharrie, Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests.
The deer season for archery starts Sept. 9 in parts of western North Carolina and Sept. 7 in most other parts of the state. Deer season for muzzle loader starts Sept. 30 and gun season starts Nov. 25.
Hunters and non-hunters should follow simple steps to ensure they return home safely during hunting season.
- Check weather reports before visiting the forest.
- Tell someone where you will be hunting and when you will return.
- Put hunting plans in writing (dates, times, location and expected time of return) and give them to a friend or relative.
- Be familiar with the area you want to hunt.
- Dress properly and be prepared for the worst possible conditions.
- During certain seasons, hunters must wear hunter (blaze) orange viewable from all directions.
- If accompanied by a dog, the dog should also wear hunter orange or a very visible color on a vest, leash, coat or bandana.
- Check hunting equipment before and after each outing, and maintain it properly. Familiarize yourself with its operation before using it in the field.
- Carry a spare set of dry clothing. Utilize layering techniques to prevent moisture while retaining body warmth. Always bring rain gear.
- Carry a first aid kit.
- Clearly identify your target before shooting. Prevent unfortunate accidents or fatalities.
- Be alert when hunting near developed areas and trails. Other recreationists are in the forest as well. Hunting is prohibited 150 yards from a recreation area, campground, dwelling or residence.
- Avoid wearing white or tan during deer season. Wear hunter orange or another highly visible color.
Non-Hunters visiting the National Forest
- Wear bright clothing. Make yourself more visible. Choose colors that stand out, like red, blaze orange or green, and avoid white, blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing. Orange vests and hats are advisable.
- Don’t forget to protect fido. Get an orange vest for your dog if he/she accompanies you.
- 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.
- Be courteous. Once a hunter is aware of your presence, don’t make unnecessary noise to disturb wildlife. Avoid confrontations.
- 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.
- 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, or schedule your outings for Sundays.