I came to the realization too late yesterday. While I was driving to Caesar Creek S.P. to go birding is not the time to remember it’s deer season for shotgun in Ohio. Determined to go birding despite the nagging reminder in the back of my head to keep your eyes open for birds as well as blaze orange.
As birders do we take unnecessary risks in pursuit of our obsessions? As I parked the bird-mobile yesterday I knew that the other 4 vehicles parked there were vehicles used by hunters. I caught up with a hunter who commented on my lack of having any blaze orange on. It was a humbling experience because I should have known better despite my reassurance that I was only going a couple of hundred yards to the lake, and I should be OK.
It hit home today when I learned that a friend I work with was attending her cousin’s funeral. He was 15 years old, and it was caused by a hunter discharging his shotgun at what he thought was an animal moving in a heavily wooded area. A sad reminded that accidents still happen all the time. Reading some of the on-line reports about the boys death reveals that he wasn’t wearing any blaze orange garments. According to Tennessee hunting laws you aren’t required to wear orange if your hunting small game during big game season.
What do you wear when you go birding? As for myself and people I bird with we’re pretty monotone. You learn not to wear clothing to bright. Remember we’re kind of hunting as well. We’re all guilty of sneaking up on a hard to see bird, being as quiet as a church mouse to get a better view. And this is how we’ve done it for years as we bird watch at various municipal, county, or state parks. As well as beaches and lake fronts.
However at times it’s necessary to go off the beaten’ path to find the honey hole of birding bliss. It’s times like these that we as birders need to be especially mindful of where we’re going and what time of year it is. If you follow this blog with any regularity you know by now that I’ll go birding year round if I could, nor am I shy or physically unable to go to new places, as long as I don’t need a passport. That’s another story all together.
So today I added a new piece of equipment to the ‘My Gear” section of “A Birder’s Notebook”. This obscenely bright, blaze orange vest purchased at my local bass Pro Shop for $24.99.
Is it worth the price to be safe when out in the woods when you know it’s hunting season? I don’t think I’ll be asking my friend. Nor do I want to alter my habit because of it either. We must reach a common ground, or should I say, I have. And if this is what I have to wear when I’m birding in an area where there might be hunting, then yes it’s worth the price.
If you liked to know when all the hunting dates are for the state of Ohio here is a link to the ODNR Division of Wildlife web site which has all the information you need.