So, I’m thinking Fall…
Welcome, misty-mornings, colorful leaves, pumpkin spice coffee, homemade donuts
(my mind goes into the fetal position if I decide instead that my babies have grown)
Other than the wardrobe issues, I’ve been so excited to see Autumn arriving once again.
This is my absolute favorite time to ride.
In Upstate New York, that dazzling New England Fall foliage… when the sun is shining, there’s just no place I’d rather be than riding my horse in the middle of the woods with the bright leaves rustling all around me.
Great food, amazingly beautiful scenery, oh and hello Sweaters and Boots, I’ve missed you!
So, everything should be coming up candy apples and pumpkin seeds, right?
Because of one big Fall-happiness-evaporator….
and the guy responsible for bursting my Autumn-revelry-bubble is….
Mr. Hunting Season.
When your main equestrian activity is trail-riding, hunting season can present a sticky-wicket. Researching this article turned up numerous forums with quite firm opinions in the form of
Hunter vs Rider.
I feel bad for any group that gets shoved into a “category” just because a few of its members are lu-lu-birds. People usually see things the clearest within the limited view of their own perspectives, and that goes both ways…but most of us forget that when we’re passionate about something.
A Hunter Must Hunt
And as he waits all year for these few short weeks (or months depending on where you live) many hunters argue that riders should be grateful to enjoy the land for the whole rest of the year and just leave the hopeful marksmen be during the season.
For my part, I don’t venture into the woods then, but I’ve always been a “better safe than sorry” kinda gal. And so the long, loooooong hunting season in Upstate New York ensures that my horse is super clean, my tack is super clean, my barn is super clean, the consumption of many apples (and donuts, to balance out all that health) and a dreary wait.
It’s a bummer but I’m used to it, and I’ll survive till post season. Some of you have competitions you’re training for, or just don’t want to sacrifice that much time off the trails.
And there’s a few things I’m sure you do to remain safe while sharing the woods
with eager hunters and startled deer…
Like the clipping of bells onto your tack.
They serve the dual purpose of alerting hunters to your presence as well as getting you in the mood for Christmas, which is good, since that bad-boy’s right around the corner!
Then there are the many options of reflective wear,
halters, helmet covers, rump sheets, and lots more.
Whether hunters mind you trotting through the woods- perhaps scaring his quarry- depends on the hunter, but it goes without saying that should you encounter one, (a hunter, not a deer… bless his heart) a quiet, polite nod or greeting is the best option as you ride along.
We tend to get grumpy about those Bambi killers taking over “our trails…” BUT
without them, our federally protected and maintained state forests, lands, and wildlife would disappear.
And here’s why:
“Hunters pay a truckload of special excise taxes. The Wildlife Restoration Fund under the Pittman-Robertson legislation collects these excise taxes on certain hunting equipment and apportions them to state natural resource agencies for conservation and education, which includes habitat restoration, shooting ranges, wildlife research and more. Annually, this program delivers more than $481 million to the states and territories of the United States, with more than $292 million of it for sport fish restoration and more than $188 million of it for wildlife restoration.”
IAFWA President Brent Manning, says,
“It takes money to conserve and restore habitat and wildlife…
Sportsmen are the single largest source of conservation revenues.”
Hunting season for the avid trail rider usually represents a frustrating lack of saddle time. Trust me, I know! But looking at it from their perspective, and realizing the HUGE economic impact they have on wildlife and land conservation, I find I’ve a better attitude towards hunters this year.
Is every hunter a kind, responsible sportsman? I think not. But I know plenty of not-so-kind equestrians too.
I hope this year more riders and hunters can just appreciate that each is pursuing his own passions
-give deference where it’s due- and enjoy successful outings,
or up a tree, searching for that buck of legends.
Here’s a few links to some high visibility gear you may want to check out if you’ll be sharing the trails this hunting season:
***I recieve NO compensation for sharing these products, nor do I have any personal experience using them. I’m not endorsing quality or function, I just thought it might be nice to have a list handy for those interested in adding some high-visibility items to their wardrobe or tack chest