With over 15 million registered hunters in the United States alone, hunting is one of the most popular recreational activities in the world. Hunting seasons in the United States don’t happen all at once, but they all run sometime from early fall through early spring. Each state and country has specific hunting regulations, so it’s best to do a quick search for dates to know when hunting will begin and end in your area.

While the sport can be rewarding for many, it means adding an extra layer of precaution for those who enjoy the woods year-round. Here’s how you can keep your pup safe when spending time in the woods during hunting season.

Wear Something Bright

It can be easy for a hunter to mistake a dog or even a human for the game they are hunting, leading to potentially fatal mistakes. The best thing you and your pup can do to stay safe during hunting season is to stay visible. Make sure you are wearing something brightly colored and cannot be mistaken for wildlife, and make sure that the bright color is the outermost layer of your outfit. A matching hat or a safety vest are also good ideas. You’ll want to give your dog the same treatment. There are hunting dog vests available in any size which will serve the same purpose: keeping your dog visible and making them impossible to mistake for wildlife.

Dog in hunting vest, How You Can Keep Your Dog Safe During Hunting Season

No Off-Leash In High-Traffic Areas

Keep your dog on their leash whenever you are hiking or walking in the woods during hunting season. Even if your dog does well off-leash, has tremendous recall, and is wearing precautionary attire, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Most recreational areas require dogs to be kept on a leash, and many require dogs to be on leash year-round regardless of the season.

Dog on leash in woods, How You Can Keep Your Dog Safe During Hunting Season

Be Loud

One thing you can easily do to make sure hunters know you are coming is to be loud while walking. Whistle, carry on a conversation with others, or even sing to alert hunters of your presence. Hunters listen very carefully for sounds of animal movement, so do what you can to make sure you do NOT sound like an animal moving through the woods. Try to do this as often as you can and especially if you hear shooting.

Owners and dog, How You Can Keep Your Dog Safe During Hunting Season

Do Your Research

Before you plan a hike or walk in the woods during hunting season, do a quick search to see where the most active hunting areas are. Your favorite places may be hotspots during hunting season. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of walking through hunting territory, plan a location where hunting isn’t permitted, such as a state or national park.

Hunting season sign, How You Can Keep Your Dog Safe During Hunting Season

Avoid Busy Times

While hunting typically takes place throughout the day, many hunters will tell you that the early morning is when they are most successful. That means if you avoid early morning hikes or walks, you’ll probably avoid a majority of hunters. 

deer at sunrise, How You Can Keep Your Dog Safe During Hunting Season


With a little precaution, planning, and research before-hand, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy your favorite woodland trail during hunting season. While safety is key, remember to be respectful of hunters as well. Once a hunter is aware of your presence, don’t do anything else to disturb potential wildlife.