It’s fall in Minnesota, which is arguably the best time of year for hiking. But fall is also hunting season. Follow these tips to stay safe and enjoy hiking in October and November.
1. Know When Hunting Season Starts and Ends
Your local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website is often the best source of information regarding hunting season dates. Here is the link to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website.
While many of us are aware of when deer hunting occurs, it can be easy to forget that other animals may be hunted earlier or later. Generally, in Minnesota, waterfowl and small game hunting starts at the end of September, and deer hunting starts at the beginning of November.
Deer hunting season is typically when most hiking trail closures occur. In 2022, the MN deer hunting season starts on November 5th and ends on November 27th.
2. Know Where Hunting is Allowed
While each state is different, Minnesota has several areas where hunting is allowed. Per the DNR, “The most commonly hunted public lands in Minnesota are state wildlife management areas (WMAs), state forests, national forests and federal waterfowl production areas (WPAs).”
For hikers in Minnesota, it is important to note that several areas of the Superior Hiking Trail allow hunting and sections may be closed for the duration of the hunting season. And if you enjoy Minnesota’s state parks as much as I do, know that several of the State Parks will have weekend closures to allow for hunting.
As a result, it is important to check the website of any park or trail you are looking to visit during the hunting season ahead of time. That way, if the park you are planning to visit is closed, you can pick a different park before starting your drive. For Minnesota State Parks, you can find closure information in the yellow Visitor Alerts box on each park’s webpage.
3. Wear Some Orange
No matter where you are hiking, a simple safety feature for hiking during hunting season is to wear some bright colors – ideally blaze orange. Whether you choose to wear a hat, jacket, or vest, pick something in blaze orange to help keep you visible while you hike.
The same goes for your dog. Consider having your dog wear an orange collar, bandana, or vest. Recently, I purchased a Ruffwear Lumenglow High-Vis jacket in Blaze Orange for my pup Glia to wear on walks at night and it’s also the perfect color for hunting season.
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4. Make Sure Your Dog Stays With You
And finally, make sure your dog has a rock solid recall (if dogs are allowed off-leash where you hike) or you keep your dog leashed when out hiking. Your dog is much less likely to have a bad encounter with a hunter if they are with you on the trails. If your dog runs off, chases deer, or is otherwise not under your supervision, they are at higher risk.