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Safe Hiking During Fall and Winter Hunting Season (11/06)

Almost all the land crossed by the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail is open to hunting. Many other Vermont trails also cross prime hunting land. Hikers should be aware that there might be hunters in the woods for much of the fall and winter. Deer rifle season is a time of particular concern because there are so many more hunters than at any other time.

The exact dates of hunting seasons change each year. Here are the dates of some of this year’s hunting seasons. (This information is from the 2006 Vermont Digest of Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Laws, available free from game wardens, places that sell outdoor equipment, and country stores. Many veterinarians and pet food stores also have cards with hunting season dates.)

  • Deer Rifle Season: November 11 – 26
  • Youth Deer Hunting Weekend: November 4 and 5
  • Bow and Arrow Deer Season: October 7 – 29 and December 2 – 10
  • Muzzleloader and Archery Deer Season: December 2 – 10
  • Moose Season: October 21 – 26
  • Black Bear Season: September 1 - November 15

There are also fall or winter seasons for hunting ducks, geese, grouse, turkeys, squirrels, rabbits, beaver, otter, mink, raccoons, fishers, fox, skunks and bobcats.

Wear blaze (fluorescent) orange. Make sure you’re easily seen from every angle. Cover your head with blaze orange. Never go out into the woods dressed all in brown, tan, or black. Don’t wear clothing with patches of white that might be mistaken for the white tail of a deer. Any pets that hike with you should also wear blaze orange, in the form of good-sized harnesses or “saddle blankets”.

Make noise. Sing, whistle, hike with someone you love to chat with. The GMC warns hikers to be especially careful in valleys and within a half mile of trailheads or roads.

In October, think moose. Moose don’t usually attack people, but both males and females can be dangerous during rutting (mating) season. Bull moose are in rut from late August till October. If you see a moose, stay away. Be careful when driving to and from the trailhead, too. Rutting moose aren’t thinking about cars when they’re crossing a road in search of a mate.