As Colorado’s hunting season kicks off, the importance of safety is paramount, especially between hunters and other recreational backcountry users.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife area manager Randy Hancock said during periods of nice weather, both hikers and hunters will be out in greater numbers. In his 35 years working for parks and wildlife, he says the state hasn’t had a nonhunter shot accidentally. Despite that track record, he offers extra precautions hunters and nonhunters can follow to minimize the risk of an accident.
“For people to be safest when hiking national forest lands, I would recommend wearing an orange hat or orange vest or some other bright color. Don’t wear white,” Hancock said. “Most big game animals have white on them, so that is a bad color to wear. So is brown, obviously.”
Hancock recommends nonhunters wear fluorescent orange to make themselves more visible to hunters when out during hunting season. “We have never had a conflict between hikers and hunters, other than some hikers being scared when they hear distant gunshots,” he said.
Friends of Fourmile publicity coordinator Alan Robinson said that hunters should be careful when hunting on popular hiking trails near town.
“Hunters should take special precaution on the Midland Trail and anything connected to the Barbara Whipple Trail or Davis Meadow Trail. Those are popular hiking and biking trails,” he said.
In the north end of the county, Hancock said there are about 2,500 big-game licenses, including archery hunting, muzzle-loader hunting and rifle hunting.
“So when you divide those 2,500 licenses by that matrix of seasons, we usually have only 300-500 hunters max out at the high point of any season,” he said. “That is scattered over more than half a million acres, so really, the density of hunters is pretty small.”
Before applying for a hunting license, hunters are required to complete a safe-hunting course, where they are instructed to identify their target and know what is beyond it. In general, Hancock said hunters are safe and careful about their targets.
“Other than that, I believe it is totally safe for hikers to be out on trails during hunting season,” Hancock said.