Deer hunting season open: Trail hikers encouraged to wear “Blaze Orange”

by beth on October 14, 2021

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Above: With Deer Hunting open, I’m sharing the Town’s and state’s warning that hikers (including four legged ones) take caution. (images cropped from pics posted to flickr clockwise by Savannah River Site, Steven Jay Photography, atomtetsuwan2002, and Dick Mansfield)

Yesterday, the Town posted news on Deer Hunting season:

As hunting season once again approaches please be sure to adhere to designated and/or open areas to hunting and be familiar with opening & closing dates for the season. Click here to view the 2021 Fishing & Hunting Season & Creel/Bag Limits. There is no hunting on Sundays.

To view state owned property that is open to deer hunting please follow this link.

Hunters must adhere to any and all regulations regarding areas where hunting may be prohibited including many conservation areas that are open for passive recreation. Trail and outdoor users should be cognizant of their surroundings and wear orange for safety!

Be sure to check out these tips from Mass.gov regarding hunter and outdoor user safety and the importance of wearing orange.

Clicking on the second link leads to a state warning that encourages all hikers to don Blaze Orange and suit up their dogs with orange vests or bandanas. (If you don’t have bright orange, I’d say that whatever trails you pursue, brightly colored clothing in the fall is a good idea.)

I looked into some of the Deer Hunting Season details. It appears Archery season is already open for most of Southborough. West of 495, it opens on October 18th. That season runs through November 27th. During this time, hunters are encouraged (but not required) to wear blaze orange.

From the end of November through December, all deer hunters are required to wear 500 square inches of blaze orange on chest, back, and head. Shotgun season is November 29 – December 11. Primitive Firearms season is December 13 – 31.

Hunting isn’t allowed on Town owned open spaces and trails. But it is allowed on some state owned and private properties.

As they did over the past two years, the Dept of Conservation and Recreation has opened some of its grounds around the Sudbury Reservoir in Town to deer hunting. For more details on DCR’s decision to open up hunting around the reservoir, you can read my 2019 post. You can find the interactive map here and learn more here.

Hunters are also allowed on private property with the owners’ written permission. For instance, Southborough Open Land Foundation allows some selective bow hunting on certain areas of Beals Preserve. The hunting is meant to be in areas away from the trails. But to be safe, they always post warning signs to for visitors to wear bright colors during hunting season.

In the past, some commenters asserted that the Town prohibits the uses of firearms in town. But that appeared to be a misconception. A search of the Town Code doesn’t bring up any restrictions on guns or weapons. (In 2013, I shared a warning from police when shotgun season opened. The message referenced calls they would get each year from residents concerned by hearing guns fired.)

That doesn’t mean there aren’t any restrictions. A state law prohibits discharging a firearm within 500 feet “of a dwelling or other building in use, except with the consent of the owner or legal occupant thereof”. (There are some exceptions to that rule, but hunting isn’t one of them.) The dwelling distance was used to determine the crosshatched areas on DCR’s map.

For anyone questioning the reasons behind allowing deer hunting, the Sudbury Valley Trustees previously posted:

Wildlife habitat in SVT’s service area is threatened by growing deer populations. SVT has identified deer management as a high-priority issue because of the high deer density in our region and the negative impact deer are having on our forests.

You can read more about why they support managing the deer population here.

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