Hunting Season Hiking

November 07, 2012
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I continue to hike during the hunting season (big game season, that is) here in the Adirondack Wild. Mid-October and November are some of the best times to hike. Colorful understory foliage persists through October, and in November when trees are completely nude, you find summit views you'd never enjoy in the summer.
In more than 20 years, I have rarely crossed paths with a hunter or even heard near-by gunshots. Much (but not all) hunting in the Adirondacks takes place in remote hunting camps that are on private land. I theorize that these camps have to be remote because of what the hunters get up to when they are not actually hunting. If these activities were not secret and scandalous, there would be tons of YouTube videos posted about deer camps and there are not – I checked! What's posted is boring stuff about getting a deer or static videos of tents and cabins in the snow. That aside, hunters do not actually want encounters with hikers – they scare the game away.
During hunting season I avoid trails where several pick-up trucks are parked. These are the preferred transport for big game. I also hike in the middle of the day when the light is good and hunting least productive.(White tail deer are crepuscular, meaning they are most active near dawn and sunset.) I wear blaze orange, of course, and because I am paranoid, I never wear anything white that could be perceived by anyone, much less a myopic hunter, as the white tail of a white tail deer.
My closest encounters included stepping out of my vehicle into a pile of deer viscera at a trailhead. Gutting your deer at a trailhead is really bad form. Once, I judged my time inaccurately on a late season hike. In the fading light, I came upon a hunter sitting against a tree, gun across his knees. We only nodded to each other as I hurried on.

Ann Melious accepted the position of Director of Economic Development and Tourism for Hamilton County NY in 2011, returning from a three year Adirondacks hiatus in the Hudson Valley. She is the former director of the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council.