Tis the season when hunters have white tailed deer dancing in their dreams. September 18, 2010 started off the hunting season in Wisconsin to include the surrounding Milwaukee area. Although this opening season is bow only for white tail deer (the most popular hunting season in Wisconsin) precautions should be taken for hiking safety as it would for gun season (the regular 9 day season being in November over the Thanksgiving holidays). Other hunting seasons have opened in September involving gun such as turkey, grouse, rabbit, squirrel, crow and bear (although this would be in the more northern portions of the state). Additional hunting season timing can be found at the DNR website,
Any of the surrounding trails that cross into private lands, such as the Ice Age Trail, or border wooded, private lands should be an area where Milwaukee hikers take additional precaution. Ice Age Trails have many segments which cross into private lands where hunting is also allowed. Some of these may be closed during hunting season in particular areas where the private land owner has requested for them to be closed. When hiking the Ice Age Trail segments, be sure to check the trail heads closely for any postings of closings. Some of the private land owners will post signs as well as postings by the Ice Age Trail volunteers. Local chapter coordinators can also provide additional information on segments that you might want to hike. The IAT Trails condition site gives some useful information on segments opened or closed or best to hike on during the hunting season. The WDNR website has a listing of state parks that allow or disallow hunting. This listing should always be double checked with the list of hunting seasons. Again, please remember that many parks border at some point, private land that may allow hunting and, unfortunately, not all hunters pay attention to where these boundaries are and...accidents happen.
One of the best precautions taken during this period of hunting in Wisconsin is to wear the blaze orange vests and/or hats while hiking. Wearing the blaze orange in addition to researching the trails being hiked to see if they cross private land, hunting grounds or wooded areas will greatly decrease hikers risks of accidentally or unknowingly coming into the path of hunters aims. Blaze orange clothing can be found at most of the sporting stores such as Gander Mountain, Cabellas, and even Fleet Farm locations and Wal Marts. In addition, keep your BFF family dog safe during your hikes also by purchasing a blaze orange safety vest for them.
Don't let this Wisconsin tradition of hunting discourage you from hiking the beautiful trails during one of Milwaukee's most colorful times of the year.