Dog Visibility During Hikes
Spending time in the woods, whether in the wilderness or on local hiking trails adjacent to cities is supposed to be exciting, therapeutic, and even bonding when done with your pet. Unfortunately some recent events played out across North America that made a leisurely walk in the woods end in tragedy.
On Thursday, September 19th, 2017 in British Columbia Canada, A therapy dog that worked with people with autism and PTSD was shot by a hunter who mistakenly believed the pet was a wild animal.
In November 2017 a woman was shot by a hunter while on a walk with her dog in Western New York. A hunter mistook her for a target and blew her away.
At the end of November, 2017 a couple had their pet pigs shot by hunters in their back yard just outside of Ottawa, Ontario.
Although it’s easy for uneducated people to blame firearms, spout that hunter safety is lacking, the sad reality is that once these horrible things have happened, people cannot get their companions or lives back. Many people after suffering a loss of a pet or spouse due to this form of neglect often require psychological help to recover. Many never fully recover. Recent studies have shown that the loss of a pet can be as severe as losing a family member.
One of the most unfortunate things that anyone does in life, is assume they are safe in the woods. No matter where you are, there are always dangers in the wilderness. There is nothing worse than going into a wilderness environment unprepared (mentally or physically).
For hunters, during hunting season there are specific regulations in place to ensure that humans are clearly visible when out in the field. The concept is simple: wear something that differentiates you from your surroundings and you won’t get mistaken for an animal and shot. As many people are aware, illegal hunters (poachers) will not hunt in season, and will often hunt on private land all year round. Few, if any hunters wish to harm or injure pets or humans. The laws governing the wearing of orange are clearly written and defined in Canada.
According to the Ontario Hunter Education Program, the governing body for hunting education in Ontario, Canada:
Under the Hunter Orange regulation of Ontario, all licensed hunters, including archery hunters hunting during the gun season for deer and moose, are required to wear hunter orange. As well, all black bear hunters hunting during the black bear season are required to wear hunter orange except when in a tree stand. (This exception is in place because, unlike deer and moose, black bears have colour vision.) Waterfowl hunters, wild turkey hunters and archery hunters in archery-only areas are exempt from the hunter orange requirement.
A hunter orange garment and head cover must be worn. The hunter orange garment must cover a minimum of 400 square inches (2,580 square cm) above the waist and be visible from all sides. Open mesh or camouflage hunter orange must not be part of the 400 square inches. A hunting coat or vest generally meets this requirement. The hunter orange head cover may have: open mesh; a peak or brim colour other than hunter orange; a crest or logo which does not completely cover the hunter orange on the side where it is affixed. The head cover may not contain camouflage material.
Hunter orange colour standards are generally consistent across North America.
This colour gradient can easily be transferred to the outdoor, non-hunting community to significantly increase safety during outdoor fun and excitement. This doesn’t mean everyone who enjoys the outdoors has to run around in Hunter Orange vests (formerly known as “blaze orange”) in order to keep safe.
It does, however lead itself to making a few common-sense changes to your routine which will significantly increase your changes of staying safe.
The Orange Bandana
The easiest, quickest, and cheapest way to mark both yourself and your canine companions when out in the woods is to get orange bandanas and ensure both yourself, and dogs are wearing them. As a rule, coyotes (which are often confused with domestic dogs by hunters) do not wear bandanas.
At their most simple, orange bandanas are available from dollar stores around North America. A $1.00 piece of orange cloth may save your dogs life. As seen in the photograph at the beginning of this article, the hunter orange bandanas very much stand out, and differentiate the authors racing team of huskies from coyotes. Anyone viewing the dogs through a rifle scope will most likely see the orange and not take a shot at the dogs.
Siberian Husky with Orange Bandana On Pack
This simple piece of cloth such as the one on the photo above can ensure that you are significantly safer in your local woods. There is nothing wrong with wearing camouflage, olive drab, and not wanting to create a visual disturbance in the woods. Many people prefer to blend in with nature when hiking, and wear more natural colours, even camouflage however it’s not without risk.
Although the protection of life is an important function, worthy of it’s own individuality, the bandana can serve more than one purpose. Most survival and bushcraft instructors will always state that items brought into the woods should have more than one purpose, if possible.
As well as for pets, humans can wear an orange bandana on their head, providing great visibility and safety, as well as having an extra tool around when necessary.
For those who wish to go beyond the simple hunter orange bandana (sometimes referred to as a Shemagh) for either themselves or their pets, full survival bandanas are available. These have the same features as a regular orange cloth bandana but contain instructions to follow if lost or panicked in the woods. These bandanas are often larger, and of higher quality than dollar store brand bandanas.
Printed survival bandana
Bandanas also have dozens of uses as survival tools. A quick internet search will reveal the various functions of the survival bandana. This includes: First Aid, water filtration, dust filter, pouch, face cloth, etc.
When heading into the woods, you don’t have to dress like a glowing orb of orange. A few simple modifications to your wardrobe may save both yourself, or your precious pets life. Be sure to be safe, be smart, and believe in your skills and abilities when in the woods.