I was walking to the look off in Gulliver's Cove earlier this week and met two ladies who were surprised to see me in a bright ORANGE vest and hat.
"Is it hunting season?" they asked.
Actually it's been hunting season for more than a month now - deer hunters with bow and muzzleloaders and bear hunters have all been in the woods since Sept. 11 but today, Friday, Oct. 27, is the start of the general deer hunt - the big hunt.
Last year DNR issued 45,836 deer licenses and 10,748 archery and muzzleloader stamps; so roughly four times as many hunters will be actually hunting this weekend compared to the few who have been in so far.
I firmly believe the general public can safely frequent the woods throughout the hunting season but they have to be aware and take a few precautions.
Most importantly: GET YOUR ORANGE ON. By law only hunters and those accompanying hunters have to wear orange, but for safety sake, everyone in the woods should wear an orange hat and an orange vest or jacket.
Travelling in a group will also make you more visible and less likely to be confused with a deer.
It's also more important this time of year to know the land you're on - who owns it? do you have permission to be there? do the owners hunt or allow others to hunt there?
If you've been in the woods lately, you might have a pretty good idea of some places hunters are setting up or frequenting. Starting today they can actually pull the trigger on their rifles, but many have been in the woods for weeks, busy scouting game trails, setting up and checking game cameras, building blinds and stands and of course supplying bait stations.
Those are places it is just as easy to avoid for the next month (until Dec. 2 at least when the big hunt ends).
I also tend to avoid the early morning and late afternoon hours as much as possible - those are the hours where hunters are out in bigger numbers, before and after work, and also when visibility is at its worst.
Hunting is only allowed on the first two Sundays: Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 but no other Sundays so you should definitely get out and enjoy the woods Nov. 12, 19 and 26.
Another option for complete peace of mind is to visit a national park like Kejimkujik or provincial parks like Central Grove, Savary Park, Mickey Hill, Smugglers Cove and Mavillette.
For example, the Fundy Erratics hiking club usually schedule their November hikes for the national park: this year they are hiking from Jakes Landing to Merrymakedge and Grafton Lake on Nov. 18.
The fall is a wonderful time to be outdoors: just GET YOUR ORANGE ON.
For more on hunting regulations and safety advice see: https://novascotia.ca/natr/hunt/.
For a list of the 2017-2018 hunting and trapping seasons, see:
Jonathan Riley, trails and open space coordinator with the Municipality of the District of Digby