There was an awful hunting-related death in Ferrum, Virginia yesterday. A Ferrum College student was hunting for frogs for her biology class when she was shot and killed by a hunter. In honor of her I thought I would offer some safety tips for being outside during hunting season in Virginia.

Firearm hunting season in Virginia for deer runs roughly from mid-November through early January. There is a detailed explanation of the season dates for every county in Virginia available on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Web Site.

This is a dangerous time of year to be out in the woods, weather you are hunting hiking, biking or any other activity. Here are a few tips to help you avoid a tragic hunting accident in the woods:

1. Don’t be out around dusk or dawn. Those are peak hunting times and the low-light conditions make it even harder for a hunter to see you. If you must be in the woods at those times then carry a light with you. Mid-day is probably the best time to be out, because the deer are less active at that time and the visibility is much better.

2. Wear blaze orange and/or bright colors. Orange safety vests are readily available at many stores and they are inexpensive. An orange cap is also highly visible. Avoid wearing camouflage or brown, black or blue. White might be mistaken for a whitetail deer’s tail.

Don’t forget your pet! There are blaze orange collars and clothes for animals. You don’t want your pet to be mistaken for a game animal.

3. Make some noise while hiking. It might upset the hunters to hear you making a racket, but I bet they will know that you are there and not a deer. Putting a bell on your dog’s collar is also a good way to keep them safe.

4. Check to make sure your hiking trail has not been closed. Sometimes the trails get closed to avoid hunting accidents, so make sure you are not going into an area that is extra dangerous. If our trail is not closed then try and stay on the trail. Hunters will usually avoid open hiking trails while hunting.

5. Be alert and keep your eyes and ears open for hunters. Realize that a hunter could be anywhere in the woods with you. Forest clearings are a popular hunting spot and also hunters spend a lot of times in tree stands.

6. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries gives information as to where hunters can find game. Consider using that tool to avoid areas where the game and hunters are plentiful and go to another area.

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