Illustration by Wade Mickley.

Should hikers and hunters share the same trails?

Yes: 48%

As a hiker, I’d rather have year-round access to the trails, hiking in bright orange, than be forced to stay away for lack of a weapon and permit.
—Reed Leonard, Auburn, Ga.

Shooting or hunting directly from the trail should be discouraged. However, making it illegal to hunt from a trail isn’t going to make hiking or biking in hunter-filled woods any safer.

Educating hunters and other trail users is the best compromise. Hunters need to be sure of their shots, and everything that is beyond their targets. Other people using the woods during hunting season need to wear blaze orange and take responsibility for being seen.

And we shouldn’t forget: hunters pay fees which help support the wild areas we all enjoy. There’s room out there for all of us. Let’s share.
—Charles Garratt, Warm Springs, Va.

I hike, bike, trail run, fish, and hunt. If not for hunters and fishermen, we would not have the amount of protected lands that we have today. Hunters are hikers, too.
—Lee, Madison, Ind.

No: 52%

Why do hunters get priority over all other user groups for several months each year? Hikers pay recreation fees, too. While it’s true that we don’t pay for permits, we also don’t kill the wildlife or litter the forest with bullets and shells. Hikers and bikers do most of the trail maintenance on our public lands, too. We have just as much right to hike them—even during hunting season. Hikers bring tourism, trail crews, forest health, and long-term forest protection; hunters scare people away, kill wildlife, leave lead shells all over the forest, and give nothing back except their permit fees.
—Mike Honeycutt, Atlanta, Ga.

There is too much room for error. Runners, hikers, and bikers will just scare away whatever the hunters are hunting, and they may be mistaken for a deer or other wildlife. It’s too much of a safety issue.
—Sal Coll, Dayton, Tenn.

It may be rare for a non-hunter to be injured, but I like “never” better. Also, I shouldn’t have to wear bright colors to protect myself. When hiking I like to blend into the natural world sometimes. We all need to know the rules and regulations and behave in a responsible manner, on trail and off.
—Gina, Henrico, Va.

I think it is too dangerous for hikers and hunters to share the same areas at the same times. I do think hunters should have access to the backcountry, just not at the same time as hikers.
—Susan Oehler, Washington, D.C.