Tomorrow is the first day of rifle season in Northern Michigan. A heavy feeling of dread falls on those of us that are trail runners. While in theory, hunters and runners should not cross paths, but that uneasy feeling still remains. Usually hunting vs non-hunting areas are well-marked. However, once in the woods, it is easy for hunters and runners alike to stray into the other’s territory. Additionally, many areas have running trails that travel through hunting territory.
On two separate occasions, I have come across hunting blinds during hunting season in wooded areas that had “no hunting” signs posted. Both times I became anxious and extremely short of breath. My trail run quickly turned into a speed workout as I sprinted out of there. Did the hunter see me and realize I was a person? Or did the hunter hear me in the distance and raise his gun, ready to shoot?
It’s these kind of occurrences that keep me from trail running during hunting season. In fact, I get nervous about running past any large section of woods during hunting season, even if I am on a public road. What if a stray bullet did not hit its target?
Ok ok. I know some of my “what if” thoughts are a bit ridiculous and far fetched. But they are all definite possibilities. It pains me not to run or hike the beautiful trails within Leelanau County during hunting season, especially because these are the last few weeks they are available without snowshoes and snow gear.
Even though I wear ridiculously colored clothing to stand out, my fears do keep me from running trails during hunting season. I’d love to know though, what do other trail runners do during hunting season? Are my fears unreasonable and silly?
Hunters and runners: what advice do you give for us all to share the woods? How can runners stay safe and how can hunters be confident in what they are shooting at?