We live on a peninsula off a mountain top surrounded by Ozark National Forest. It's duck and cover around here the first few weeks of gun hunting season. There are mountains and ridges that border us on two sides and we live in constant fear that a stray bullet from a missed shot will head our way! The horses are kept in a low lying pasture next to the barn.
Before we moved up here we lived in a valley, the neighboring pastures were owned by the forest service. Every year they burned off the 500 acre fields, the flames towered over the trees that separated our land only 20ft from the house! They eventually planted native grasses and populated it with quail, NICE! We got permission to put up warning signs, but had to move them after they saw our HUGE neon signs that said HOME AND FARM, DO NOT SHOOT, WILL RETURN FIRE!!!
We deer hunt but stay out of the forest until after thanksgiving when it gets colder and the yahoos stay home. Trail riding only on the weekdays, with bells.
Like said before, I worry more about the drunken hunters on ATV's and trucks on the trails. They love to roar around us trying to prove the power and superiority of their vehicles vs our horses. Just a bunch of Idiot townies who come out here to raise cain. Ugh, at least gun hunting starts around the time the leaves fall and we don't miss all the color. :)
Big game hunting season begins in Mid August with Archery Hunting and continues thru Jan with anterless depredation tags. Spring Turkey hunts start again in April and May. If I didn't ride during hunting season, I wouldn't get any trail riding done.
I own horses because I got tired of packing deer and elk off the mountain. As the Forest Service started restricting back country access to motor vehicles, I found I had to replace my motorcycles with horses back in 1983. My horses are used extensively for back country travel during my hunting activities. So I have no fear of riding them during hunting season and continue to ride them even if I'm not hunting during the fall.
As a hunter from a western state, I have a huge respect for other hunters and expect them to abide by the same safety rules that I live by. You don't point your gun at anything you are not going to shoot. You always make sure there is a proper back stop behind your target. I don't ever shot at a deer/elk standing on a ridgeline where the rifle bullet could travel far beyond.
Here in Utah, our hunting license or tags dictate what we can shoot at. For example Hunters are given tags for Any Bull Elk, Spike Only Bull elk or Anterless Elk. A hunter has to Look at and determine
1st, Is the animal an Elk or is it a Deer, Moose, antelope, horse, cow etc.
2nd is it a Anterless elk, a spike bull or a mature bull. We have to look close enough at the animal to determine does it have horns and how many points does it have.
I can't just shoot at something brown moving thru the bushes. And sound shots are never an option. Why would I ever take the risk of shooting at a noise in the bushes and hope it was the right Species, Gender and Age to match my tag.
In addition the west is very different from hunting in areas back east. We are not nearly as concerned about the bullet traveling beyond the target. Since our mountains have such extremes in terrain. We almost ALWAYS have a mountain behind our target. Rarely do I have to consider, is there a farm house beyond those trees behind the Elk? I'm sure there are different consideration when hunting on flat land. Most modern high power rifles still have about 38-48" of drop in about 500 yards. I you are aiming at the chest of a deer ( about 32-36" off the ground) that bullet trajectory should drop and put the bullet into the dirt in less than 500 yards on flat land. I understand this is why many eastern states require or encourge hunters to hunt from elevated stands, because it points the bullet into the earth sooner than a bullet being shot on the same level as the target.
I exercise typical pre-cautions. I wear some orange, I often place orange or pink ribbons on my horses, Especially in the area of the head/neck where a hunter would have to look to determine the sex of the animal. And on the chest area, where a hunter would aim to take a lung/heart shot. I try to choose areas to ride, where I might not be as likely to encounter hunters. Elk hunting is in Alpine mountains, so I might ride in more desert areas during that week of the year if I wasn't hunting. You can also choose the time of your ride. There are probably more hunters out on Saturday than on say Wednesday. Also more hunters early and late in the day than at mid day. Since hunting season, usually means colder weather riding at mid day, is often a more comfortable time of day to be out than at Sun up.
It's unfair to classify all hunters as being careless or not concerned about safety. We usually do have a hunting accident or two each year. Mostly self inflected or somebody accidently shooting their friend. But that is a MUCH safer margin than the number of people killed each year in traffic accidents or by drunk drivers. Or even the number of murders that take place in a major city. There will always be the dumb smuck who breaks the rules, whether it be about hunting safety, reckless driving, or drunk driving. Just use common sense and think about the risk you are exposing your self to. If your area has a LOT of hunters and it's a problem to ride, Then don't.
Packing horse feed into our hunting camp
Orange Packs on a horse that is similar in color to elk.
Hopefully any hunter looking at this mule would realize he is the wrong color to be ANY type of wild game and the horns are in the wrong place. But even at that we have some orange ribbons tied to his saddle
If the bullet missed this elk, it will impact the mountainside behind it. There is no worry of it traveling a distance and hitting livestock grazing in a distant pasture.
I once worked a fall for the US Forest Service in Utah. I wore blaze orange everything, made lots of noise, and was shot at more times there than I was 25 years later in Afghanistan...
I've gone hunting every year in Utah for more than 50 years. Often that included multiple hunts each year, ( deer and elk). If not hunting, I'm riding my horses in the mountains all fall enjoying the change of seasons. I have NEVER been shot at, I have NEVER felt threatened or in danger from other hunters.
You must have really pissed somebody off to have them shooting at you!
The closest place for me to ride is a state park, less than 30 miles outside of Cincinnati, so we often have to deal with the suburbanite hobby-hunters with a severe case of "buck fever" and no sense of direction or common sense once they're in the woods.
Many of them won't go off the trail more than ten yards because it's too much work for them to haul their beer cooler through the undergrowth.
I wear blaze orange, my horse wears bells, and sometimes I pack along the iPod with speakers in my saddle bag for some extra "noise." That has caused a few hunters to get snippy.
They accused us of "scaring away" whatever it is they're hunting - in which case I point out to them that I am using a designated and legal horse trail in the park, and that they need to get farther off the trail anyway.
It's probably the smell of their beer, ham sandwiches and cigarettes that are scaring the deer away. . .and the sound of their heavy breathing and crashing through the honeysuckle with all their gear - not the sound of my sleigh bells and the sight of the bright orange vest I'm wearing.
Besides, the "noise" I am making is not intended to scare off wildlife. It's to keep us from being mistaken for wildlife!
In fact, many times I've had deer and other critters just stop and watch my horse and I go by even with all the "noise" we are making. Then they go back about their business.
Badger, I have to deal with the same stuff. We live an hour and a half from town and the townies come out in masses to have more fun than kill anything. The ridge next to us becomes a shooting range, ATV's roar around the trails, and during mid day all you can hear is the banging of guns around the hillsides when the boys get their drink on and have shootouts at "deer camp".
Painted Horse, we are much alike. I USE my horses during hunt season. They are about the only way we can haul the deer outta some of these hollers. I'd love it if we were more remote! The crazies scare the wildlife the first two weeks so badly that it takes forever for them to get back into their normal routines. You won't find many deer that aren't bedded down during the day now, they have it all figured out and switch to grazing at night. Lucky for us "kind of" the deer seek refuge on our eventing properties, farms, and here on the 80. We manage to get a few safely in the freezer! Just went down and checked our tower blind and found someone has been set up on us! Left their snacks, dip, bottles, etc... madder than a hornet because we've been feeding for months now and they probably got our good ones. So we hunt too, even killed a 500+ black bear a couple years ago and for AR standards it was huge. Saw a bigger one this year but quota filled up in a WEEK. Next year...
I appreciate your side of the story and how it should be! Awesome photos! Never been hunting out that way but my family of "GREAT WHITE HUNTERS" has taken several trips, Elk is quite tasty, especially in my campfire stew!
We ride in a local park animal sanctuary so there is no hunting but there is hunting on grounds adjacent to it. Never heard shots there though. I assume most people actually want to "get out of town" to hunt. Our favorite riding place does have hunting on it so we don't go there during hunting season as we have alternatives.
Seems every year some hunter gets shot around here. A few years ago some idiots from just south of Houston were hunting just north of me and they got all drunked up (is that a word?) and one of them shot and killed the other over something stupid. Like my barn manager said "those aren't hunters in the woods - those are stupid drunks with guns!"
A few years back a couple of hunters on stands were talking to each other, at a distance of about 50 yards. Without thinking I rode my fairly close to them to check the fence, then realized my error. (I rented my land to them for hunting). A beautiful buck came out of the trees to within 50' of me, quite unconcerned about me on the quad but very concerned about the guys who were talking.
Just a short while ago on the edge of one of the places I ride (might of heard of it since it hit national news) a marine home on leave was shot and killed while hiking with a friend. The hunter has been billed as experienced and had his young grandson with him to show him the ropes. Guy said he thought the marine was a bear. Now, they were hunting on private property and the marine should not of been there (strayed from established trails) but a hunter should always make sure of what they are shooting at. Sadly to many don't.
This incident along with a whole lot of others is why I stay out of the woods during rifle season. Luckily, our rifle season is rather short so it's not much of an ordeal (forgot to mention that earlier).