Photo: Shaan Hurley.

7 Tips for Hiking Safely During Hunting Season

Sep 01, 2023 by Jana Hemphill
Planning to hike this fall? Be prepared with our seven tips for hiking safely during hunting season.

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As the days begin to shorten and cool off, many Central Oregonians are planning their last hikes of the season, hoping to take in the beauty of the outdoors on days without wildfire smoke. During this same time, hunters are preparing to head out and connect to the outdoors through the tradition of hunting. As a hiker, make sure you're aware that hunters are also out enjoying the outdoors. Stay safe during hunting season by following these seven tips:

1. Know when hunting season is.
Before you head out to hike, find out what hunting is available in the spot you’ve chosen. While August, September, and October are when most hunters will be out enjoying the outdoors, game bird hunting has a longer season. You can find dates for hunting seasons by calling the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at (503) 947-6000 or by visiting their website to find out what areas, dates, and types of hunting are allowed where you’re planning to hike. Learn more about big game hunting seasons and game bird hunting seasons in Oregon.

Photo: Sue Anderson.
Photo: Sue Anderson.
2. Avoid hiking at dawn and dusk.
Hunters tend to be out more during dawn and dusk when wildlife is active (although they can be active throughout the day). Plan your hike for the middle of the day, instead of early in the morning or during dusk. If you still want to catch that spectacular sunrise or sunset, take a flashlight or headlamp to make yourself more visible. Wearing reflective clothing also makes it easier for hunters to spot hikers during these low visibility hours of the day.

3. Wear bright orange or hot pink.
It’s easy to forget this tip until you’ve already arrived at your trailhead, so try to turn it into a habit! Wear bright orange (sometimes called hunter's orange) or hot pink to make sure you are noticeable to others (including hunters) while hiking. It is recommended that you wear your bright orange or hot pink on the upper half of your body, that it's covering a large proportion of your body (not just a hat or bandana), and the color is visible from 360 degrees. One easy way to follow this tip is to get an orange vest, something commonly worn by hunters, and leave it in your vehicle so you're always prepared when you arrive at the trailhead. In addition, you’ll want to specifically avoid wearing white or gray, which can resemble the rump of a deer or elk.

4. Stay on trails (and hike at popular spots).
Hunters often head off-trail or into quieter areas in search of game, so perhaps you should do the opposite! Hunting season is the perfect time to hit up those popular trails you might typically avoid. If you do go somewhere less traveled, make sure to stay on the trail. And if you’re uncomfortable with the thought of hunters nearby while you’re hiking, look for hikes in areas where hunting is not allowed—like Whychus Canyon Preserve.

5. Keep your dog on-leash.
Along with keeping yourself on the trail and safe, make sure your dog stays on the trail as well. While dogs are required to be on-leash at Land Trust Preserves, keeping them close on other Central Oregon trails is a good idea at this time of year. If you just can’t bring yourself to keep your dog on a leash when not at Land Trust Preserves, make sure to dress them in bright orange or hot pink (not just a bandana though!), so they aren’t mistaken for wildlife.

6. Use extra caution near roads.
Many of our hiking and biking trails cross old logging roads and forest service roads in Central Oregon. Be aware of cars, trucks, and ATVs that might be using these logging roads to access hunting locations.

7. Make noise while hiking.
Let others know that you’re in the area (and a human) by making noise. Whistling, talking to your hiking buddies, or singing your favorite songs alerts hunters to the presence of other people.

As a reminder, Deschutes Land Trust Preserves are closed to hunting, including at the Metolius Preserve. It is, however, extremely important to remember that all of the land around the Metolius Preserve is open to hunting in accordance with state and local regulations. The Metolius Preserve is an island of private property surrounded by Deschutes National Forest land. The National Forest allows hunting and therefore, hunters or their marks may stray into the Preserve. While the Land Trust will mark our Preserve boundaries with no hunting signs, visitors who use the Preserve during the various hunting seasons should keep this in mind and always hike or bike with caution.


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