Autumn in southern NH means color! As the sun wanes and days get shorter, plants make less chlorophyll so their natural shades shine bright as they pass away. A late afternoon hike around Annette Wayside Park in Rindge gave our family a much needed dose of fall color.
Walking the small pond trail was not strenuous, though there were times we had to avoid large treefall across the path. This trail is very familiar to our family, so wandering the property is part of the fun. We followed a few game trails that led from the pond, easily finding signs of deer and beaver.
Forests in the fall bring a strong caution, as hunting season is an important New England attraction. Most properties are posted if they prohibit hunting. State properties are generally open for hunting in season, unless posted otherwise, but there are still restrictions, so visiting the NH Fish and Game website is crucial to staying up-to-date.
According to the site, some reasons hunting is not allowed are...
- High non-hunter use and/or developed recreation,
- Urban interface, and
- Small property size in combination with 1 or 2. (from NH Fish and Game)
Many times I have walked in a forest and heard a gunshot far away. I usually turn around and find another hiking spot for a while. I wanted to ask a friend who works as a hunting safety instructor for NH Fish and Game for hiking advice. Jim Chartrand shared with me some tips to hiker safety during this beautiful season.
Rule #1: to remember: "We share the forest". Jim repeated this mantra numerous times in our conversation. It is a good reminder for both the hunter and the hiker. Although I have never hunted game, my husband has, and I work at a high school where many students take great pleasure in the times spent with family, hunting in the woods.
Rule #2: wear bright colors. This goes for both hunters and hikers! Jim said he instructs his trainees to always were a bright orange hat, even when they desire camouflage. He said frequently hunters will place their hat above them on a nearby branch, providing safety for each other. Hikers should never fail to deck themselves out in bright colors- not white!
Can we recreate on state lands during hunting season? Hunting should not conflict with other activities normally occurring on state properties. Hunters and non-hunters have responsibility to share public lands with care. The most important precaution is to wear "hunter orange" or other bright fluorescent colors such as reds and yellows. Safety is everyone's responsibility and common sense precautions are in order.
Are there any special recreation precautions or hunter safety regulations on state-owned forest lands? Hunting is not appropriate near recreational trails, campgrounds, and other developed recreation facilities. Hunters are prohibited from discharging firearms within 300 feet of any developed recreation area, occupied building, trail or road on state parks and forests. For example, much of Monadnock State Park is inappropriate for hunting because of the preponderance of recreation trails in the park.
I have intentionally interspersed this information among some favorite images from Annette Wayside Park. Like many State Parks, this land adjoins other forested properties, some which allow hunting, while others don't. It should be assumed that the land you hike permits hunting unless posted, then care needs to be taken to know boundaries. If you own a forested property, there is an informative text by the UNH Cooperative Extension which explains how to find and mark your boundary.