November 8, 2013

Editorial: Protection while in the woods


---- — Hunters are in the woods across New York state for deer and bear season, experiencing one of their most anticipated times of the year.

Hikers are out on wooded trails, enjoying their final days of adventure before winter sets in.

How sad it would be to have such exciting and tradition-filled activities turn tragic. But every year, somewhere across the state, someone is injured or killed this time of year purely because they were mistaken for prey.

Alvin Reiner, who writes and takes pictures for the Press-Republican, enjoys time in the outdoors. He described this recent experience: “This past weekend, when hiking Baxter Mountain, I encountered 25 to 30 hikers (some in small groups, some solo) of all ages, of which only three were wearing any article of clothing that was either orange or red.

“One gentleman around 20 years of age, who seemed to lack any sense, wore a hat/head covering that resembled a moose,” Alvin lamented.

“In the past, red was the color of choice, and it, as well as other bright colors, help people to be visible once the leaves are off the trees.”

For many years now, government experts and hunting organizations have been recommending one simple act to keep more people safe in the woods: Wear hunter orange.

The Department of Environmental Conservation points out that: “While not required by law in New York state, more than 80 percent of big-game hunters, as well as two out of three small-game hunters, wear hunter orange.

“Deer do not have red-sensitive cone cells in their eyes and can’t tell red or orange from green and brown,” DEC ensures. “Deer have different sensitivity to various wavelengths of light than humans. Deer see short wavelength colors such as blue (and even ultra-violet, which humans cannot even see) brighter than humans do, but deer are less sensitive to longer wavelengths, such as orange and red, so these colors look darker to deer.

“Hunter orange prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal or shooting in your direction.”

DEC goes on to say that people wearing hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot.

“During the past 10 years, not one person who was wearing hunter orange was mistaken for game and killed in New York,” DEC reports. “On the contrary, big-game hunters who were involved in firearm-related incidents were not wearing hunter orange.”

That is sound evidence that wearing hunter orange — readily available in area sporting-goods stores, including Gander Mountain and Dick’s — saves lives while not inhibiting the ability to hunt.

Make the smart choice. For the sake of your family and others who care about you, make sure you are wearing hunter orange when you pose with that trophy deer.