Many people believe that with the approach of autumn comes the best time of year for hiking. Leaves will soon be off the trees and views into the valleys will become more expansive. Cooler temperatures will soon have dissipated the humidity, allowing you to enjoy the far-reaching vistas that were unobtainable during summer’s hazy atmosphere. Snakes will become less active and annoying insects of the biting and stinging kind will almost disappear.

I, of course, am going to tell you get out there and enjoy the woods whenever you can. However, you need to be aware that fall ushers in the largest and most popular hunting seasons of the year.

I certainly am not against hunting for meat to supplement the family larder. I also believe most hunters are conscientious, and I know that hunters in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and other Blue Ridge Mountain states must complete a hunter safety education course before being permitted to obtain a license.

It is rare for a hiker to be shot by a hunter (incidents on the Georgia Appalachian Trail and one in Virginia a few years ago come to mind), yet it is best to take some precaution before heading into the outdoors.

Probably the best thing to do is to wear a blaze orange vest or other article of clothing. Because it is hard to wear a vest with a backpack, I usually wrap mine around the pack. To increase my chances of being seen, I often don a blaze orange hat or cap. In addition, hiking with several companions gives you added visibility, both visually and audibly. Also, do not forget to put some blaze orange on your pet.

I’ll discuss additional aspects of how hunting may affect your fall hikes in my next post.