Know before you go!

Deer hunting season for guns began in this region of New York state on Nov. 18 and lasted, in various forms, until Dec. 19, 2017.

But that’s just deer season and every state has different dates and different times and different rules for different game.

So check out the handy chart below and know before you go.

Generally speaking and for hiking purposes, hunting IS permitted NEAR approximately 1,250 miles of the A.T. – actually on either side of the A.T. not on it – mostly in national forest lands, national recreation areas, and on state forests and game lands, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Hunting is NOT permitted along approximately 900 miles of the Appalachian Trail in national parks (think Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains), most state parks, and on lands acquired by the National Park Service exclusively for the Trail and still under National Park Service administration, including the outside edges by A.T. corridor boundary signs.

Hikers and hunters alike should be aware that the A.T. itself is a protected corridor where hunting is NOT allowed, but that corridor is often narrow, sometimes only about 1,000 feet wide.

Even in areas where hunting is not permitted, hunters on adjacent lands may not know that they are near the A.T. At other times hunters may inadvertently cross onto protected lands or unknowingly fire toward the Appalachian Trail.

Here are a couple of things you should do during hunting season:

1) You should always wear “blaze orange” on your upper torso and also a brightly colored hat.
2) You should always make lots of noise when you hike – singing, banging your poles together or talking loudly all work. (But practicing your duck calls or wearing an antler-styled wool hat is probably NOT a good idea.)
3) You can always choose to hike in areas where hunting is not permitted. (See below.)
4) You should never hike alone.
5) Hikers should be aware that interference or harassment of hunters in the lawful pursuit of game is a violation of law in all 14 A.T. states.
6) You should never argue with a person with a loaded gun.

Keep in mind that walking on the Appalachian Trail with a gun is NOT the same as hunting on the Appalachian Trail with a gun. However, there are some jurisdictions that don’t allow hunters to cross a non-hunting section to reach another section where hunting is allowed.

Hunting season and regulations vary from state to state and from park to park. And, in case you didn’t notice, Warwick is close to three of those states.

But you can click here for a handy chart that gives information about every state that the Appalachian Trail passes through.

Here is another great link to click.

Of course, there are always exceptions.

Harriman State Park, for example, allows hunting west of the New York State Thruway (Click here) but does not allow hunting east of the Thruway. Sterling Forest State Park (Click here) allows hunting on most of its land but hunting is not permitted on the Doris Duke Wildlife Sanctuary section, except the extreme northeastern part where it enters the Town of Monroe.

As of November, 2017, there are signs along the Doris Duke trail that let you know when you are entering the Town of Monroe – and entering a hunting section – and then again when you re-enter the Town of Tuxedo and are back in a no-hunting section. The problem with signs is that they inevitably get torn down or damaged. (But as of this writing, they are brand-new and readily visible.)

I would say that you’ll spend about 20 minutes in the Town of Monroe section if you don’t stop to look at the gorgeous views and you probably SHOULD stop to look at the views.

Also, while Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey and Pennsylvania is a national park, hunting IS permitted there unlike other national parks.

It can get pretty confusing, pretty quickly so know before you go.

But wearing a fluorescent or “blaze” orange hat and vest (and pack cover if backpacking), or hooded outerwear is always a good place to start.

If you hike with a dog, it should also wear blaze orange visible from all sides. We recommend that pets be leashed at all times while hiking.

On a recent hike, I came across a family all wearing blaze orange hats and vests and even their dog had blaze orange on. Moments later, I came across a couple wearing blaze BROWN – not a good idea.

A special note about Pennsylvania: On state game lands in Pennsylvania, all hunters and non-hunters are required to wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined, or a fluorescent orange hat, from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15 (except on Sundays when hunting is not allowed).

The orange material must be visible from all angles (360 degrees).

It’s the law.

Volunteer Work on the AT!

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