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You must prepare properly for a hike in hunting season

The bright colors of fall hung on a bit longer than usual this year - particularly the red, yellow and orange leaves of the maple, birch and beech trees hugging New Hampshire's hillsides. One of those seasonal hues - orange - can be seen in the Granite State's woods long into fall. The source, however, isn't the forest trees, but hunters who are decked out in blaze orange clothing to enhance their visibility to other hunters as they seek a deer to fill the freezer.

Regular firearms season for deer in New Hampshire opened Nov. 14 and is set to continue through Dec. 9 in most of the state. (Today, Dec. 2, is the closing date for deer season in northern New Hampshire's Wildlife Management Unit A.)

Hikers should take a sartorial tip from hunters and add hunter orange clothing to their fall hiking wardrobes. The vibrant color is hard to miss in the woods - and it's certainly important to be visible during the hunting season. Hunters wear orange for that reason - and hikers should, too.

Blaze orange apparel that's visible from all directions - such as a hat, vest or jacket - enhances one's visibility in the woods. Such items are inexpensive and easy to find at sporting goods retailers and department stores. I avoid wearing white, which could be mistaken for the flash of a deer's tail. Likewise, outerwear that resembles the hide of a deer or bear should be left in the closet.

Hikers should be aware of possible hunters in the area when they take to the trails, but if they dress appropriately and plan ahead, they needn't be fearful. Some of the best hiking is in the higher elevations where views are most expansive. Hunters are less likely to be found there because the game they're seeking typically frequents lower elevations.

Hunters typically know where popular hiking areas are and are likely to avoid them.

It's a good idea to stick to established trails and avoid bushwhacking at this time of year.

Hunters in New Hampshire are required to take a hunter education course before they can obtain a hunting license. Responsible hunters know never to fire unless they are certain of their target, as well as what lies beyond it.

Ask the proprietor at a sporting goods shop if you'd like to learn the location of popular hunting spots in your area. And, perhaps, purchase some hunter orange clothing while you're there.

Rob Burbank is the director of media and public affairs for the Appalachian Mountain Club in Pinkham Notch. His column, "Outdoors with the AMC," appears monthly in the New Hampshire Sunday News.


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