One of our absolute favorite things to do with our pups is to hike in the woods. Rain, sleet, snow, bugs, there is nearly nothing that will keep us off trail. We always try to keep in mind that different seasons bring different needs out on trail for us and our dogs. Extra water in the summer, booties in the frigid weather, bug spray in the spring are all things that you have to get used to remembering to bring. Hunting season brings a whole new dynamic to hiking in the woods. You need to know how to stay safe, how to keep your dog safe and how to respect others during this season of heightened activity in the woods.
Hunting season shouldn’t keep you from having fun out on trail, but it should change the way you prepare. First of all, keeping yourself informed on the rules, dates and times or each season goes a long way! You can visit your state’s Fish and Game website to get detailed lists of all of these things. Once you know that a busy season has started it is important to have the proper gear!
First off you want to make sure you and your dog can be easily spotted. Orange hats, shirts or vests are all good to have ready so you can have something easy to see for yourself no matter the weather. You also want to have a bright orange vest or bandanna for your dog. If you use a bandanna make sure it stays on them in a way that is as visible as it can possibly be. It might not do much good if it drops down onto the chest of your very fluffy dog. I personally will always choose a vest over a bandanna simply because it covers more space! A bell is also a good idea. When you hear a bell in the woods, you almost always immediately think “okay, there is a dog around.” I have had better luck with a button snap than with velcro as velcro can wear out after weathering. You could also play some music or listen to a podcast on your phone so there is a little chatter if you are walking alone.
During hunting season it is more important than ever to keep your dog close to you. If you can not guarantee that your dog will come back when called they should not be off leash no matter the season, but it is even more important during hunting season. There are more smells to follow, odor lingers where people have walked off trail and into the woods and usually more gross things for them to find and roll in. Speaking from experience, no one wants to clean that up! Keep your dog on leash if you are concerned at all about them possibly not coming back when called.
Want to learn how to teach your dog to be more reliable off leash around wildlife and in the woods?
During this turkey season, and every season after this, go out and have fun with your pup, explore trails, grow your relationship and follow these tips. Hopefully they will help keep you safe and let you have more fun and feel more comfortable during any hunting season.