HIKERS ARE ADVISED to wear blaze orange and stay on trailways while visiting preserves where hunting is permitted. Pets should also wear orange, said Becky Kolak, KELT’s education coordinator, and be kept on a leash at preserves where pets are allowed.

HIKERS ARE ADVISED to wear blaze orange and stay on trailways while visiting preserves where hunting is permitted. Pets should also wear orange, said Becky Kolak, KELT’s education coordinator, and be kept on a leash at preserves where pets are allowed.

BRUNSWICK

W ith deer season nearing, hunters and hikers alike are reminded to use caution when visiting local preserves where hunting is permitted.

Firearms season for deer hunting begins Saturday for Maine residents and Nov. 3 for all others, and runs until Nov. 29. Hunting hours run from a half-hour before sunrise to a halfhour after sunset, except for Sundays; hunting on Sundays is not permitted.

“Deer hunting is what attracts the most hunters,” said Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Public Information Officer Mark Latti. “Throughout the state, we have roughly 170,000 deer hunters active during the season.

“There is also an archery season and a bird season,” said Latti, which begin in October as well as a spring season, “and for some of those seasons the hunters number in the tens-of-thousands, but it’s limited enough that many people don’t realize that hunting is occurring around them.”

Many local land trusts in the Mid-coast have preserves where hunting is permitted. Residents are advised to contact land trusts in their area for information about where hunting is allowed and take certain safety measures during the hunting season while using these preserves.

“Hunting is a very safe sport, despite some common perceptions. Year after year there are very few injuries to non-hunters,” said Latti. “However, it is wise to take precautions though and wear blaze orange clothing while hiking, just like you would take the precaution of wearing reflective clothing if you’re riding a bike at night.”

Local police departments can be contacted for information about areas that have ordinances restricting hunting with firearms, said Latti, and also recommended that hikers stay on trails in areas where hunting is permitted.

“Hunting is one of the traditional uses of land in Maine and we do allow it on some of our preserves,” said Kennebec Estuary Land Trust education coordinator Becky Kolak.

Hunting is allowed on seven of KELT’s preserves: Thorne Head, Sewall Woods, Lily Pond Community Forest and Wiskeag Creek Preserves in Bath, Higgins Mountain and Weber Kelly Preserves in Georgetown, and Bonyun Preserve on Westport Island.

“We ask hunters not to hunt along any of the trails and to be aware that there are community members and families who are accustomed to hiking yearround,” said Kolak. “If someone is nervous about using a preserve where hunting is allowed, Sunday is a great option.”

Though the Brunswick- Topsham Land Trust does not post lands against hunting, said Executive Director Angela Twitchell, many of the trust’s lands are conserved under easements and hunting is only allowed by permission of the landowner.

“We do limit hunting in certain areas where there are trails or that are near residential properties,” said Twitchell. “Hunters are very responsible, they know to ask before they use private property.”

Additionally, it is advised that residents with pets keep them on a leash while visiting preserves where pets are allowed, and that pets wear blaze orange kerchiefs or vests.

“I tell people always wear orange and never wear white,” said hunting guide Larry Berberich, of Hook and Gun Guide Service in Brunswick, noting that hunters call the flash of white visible when deer lift their tails a “white flag.”

“Statistically, hunting is one of the safest sports you can do,” said Berberich. “The most important things are muzzle control, to make sure you clearly identify your target and remember that you don’t have to pull the trigger.”

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