Monday, October 18, 2010

Break out the Blaze Orange

Stayin' Alive During
the 2009 Hunting Season
This past weekend was the opening of gun deer season here in Georgia.  Even if it hasn't begun yet near you, hunting season will soon be in full swing all across the country. For those of us who just keep mountain biking despite the other sporting opportunities and despite the change of the seasons, it is time to break out the blaze orange.

Wearing blaze orange on the trails when hunting is going on in the area should be considered a mandatory piece of safety equipment. Think about what the hunter sees from his tree stand when you ride by: a form moving quickly through the woods about the size of a deer making very little noise. Obviously, if he's a decent hunter he won't shoot until he knows for sure what he's shooting at, but you don't want to take the chance!

Why Blaze Orange
"But why do I need to buy blaze orange?  Won't any old decently-bright color work?"

Short answer: not really.

For those who have never hunted before, it may be difficult to understand what's so special about buying a blaze orange vest that is specifically intended for hunting.  Here's what you may not know: there is a specific hue that a piece of blaze orange clothing must be dyed to be legal for hunting.

This blaze orange hue was specifically chosen by the-powers-that-be because of its visibility over incredibly long distances against the background of the countryside.  Having grown up gun deer hunting throughout my middle school and high school career, I can personally attest to blaze orange's amazing visibility.  When looking out of my tree stand through the woods, I could pick out a hunter coming towards me a couple hundred yards away by a very small patch of clothing showing through the tangled tree limbs.  When driving down the highway during gun deer season, it is easy to pick out a hunter standing in a field on a hill well over a mile away: the color stands out that well.

Yeah, you may already have a pretty brightly colored jersey that you think may differentiate you from the brown/gray background. Up close, it will definitely help, and I'd recommend at least wearing a bright jersey as compared to a dark green, gray, black, or brown jersey.

Still, because of blaze orange's inherent visibility, I would highly recommend buying a light-weight blaze orange vest.  It doesn't have to be crazy expensive or full of features: I picked up my simple vest (pictured above) at Wal Mart last year for less than $20.

If you are riding in a forest that is also open to hunting, stay safe and wear blaze orange.

Your Turn: What other precautions do you take to stay safe on the trails during hunting season?

8 comments:

eric glaze,  October 18, 2010 at 9:54 AM  

As a safety precaution I tend to leave my deer antler helmet at home from September to January. It is much funnier in the summer than it is during the rut.

Greg October 18, 2010 at 2:46 PM  

Haha yes! Thank you for that mental picture eric.

Greg October 18, 2010 at 2:49 PM  

PS fixed the image link.

Anonymous,  October 18, 2010 at 4:50 PM  

Bow season started mid September in GA. Will be sporting orange for the rest of the year.

Anonymous,  October 19, 2010 at 10:27 AM  

I put antlers on my helmet

scott,  October 19, 2010 at 7:12 PM  

Wearing a color called blaze orange makes me feel faster.

Anonymous,  November 10, 2010 at 4:16 PM  

Going MTBing in VA this weekend. Start of deer season. Got my B/O vest. looking for a B/O helmet cover as well, but no luck.

Greg November 11, 2010 at 9:07 AM  

@Scott, it's scientifically proven to help reduce air resistance, creating an energy savings of 5 newtons per mile, +/1 0.7.

@Anonymous, Way to be man, stay safe out there in the woods! I've never seen a blaze orange helmet cover before. If you find one, be sure to post a link!

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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com. He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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