New York’s rifle hunting season for deer and bear begins on Saturday, November 21 and ends on Sunday, December 13. This is followed by a week of muzzleloading and crossbow hunting from December 14 until December 22. Opening weekend is always the busiest for hunters.
The CMC suggests that you hike in areas where hunting is prohibited or unlikely during this season. The Delhi Trails, the Andes Rail Trail, the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, the Marbletown O&W Rail Trail and the Walkway Across the Hudson are good choices. Much of Minnewaska State Park Preserve is free of hunting. Other nearby state parks with no hunting are Robert V. Riddell near Oneonta, Mills-Norrie near Staatsburg and Highland Lakes near Middletown. Check nearby state park regulations here and also check properties held by land conservancy organizations.
If you are hiking in the Catskill Forest Preserve, choose your route wisely. Hunting is rare on many of the Catskill High Peaks. Look for trails that are steep and avoid relatively flat areas and/or areas that are readily accessible by motor vehicle. Be aware that many DEP properties allow hunting. Check here. The CMC urges all hikers to wear blaze orange caps and/or vests when hiking. It is a good idea to hike in groups in order to increase visibility and draw attention to your presence in the woods. Be observant, be careful and be safe.
• Avoid hiking close to dawn and dusk when hunters are more likely to be in the woods. Weekends are the busiest time.
• Wear blaze orange – hats, pack covers, jackets, etc. Do not wear white, which can be mistaken for the flash of a deer’s tail.
• Don’t forget about orange for your pets as well.
• Stay on trails. Don’t bushwhack in areas open to hunting at this time of year.
• Hike where deer, and therefore hunters, are less likely to be found. Don’t hike in areas that you know are popular with hunters.
• If you hear hunters or gunshots, announce in a loud voice, “Hikers on Trail”.