Thursday, October 18, 2018

Trail Riding During Hunting Season

Rustler's Gulch
October 2018

Last week, I posted to my friends that I'd be riding at Rustler's Gulch if anyone wanted to join me.  A few of them answered back quickly that I better be careful, because it's hunting season.

Yikes!!  What to do?

I had images of people shooting from every tree.  I had images of getting shot.  I had images of my horse getting shot. But I told the girls who said they'd like to go with me to give me a little time to research.  (This is my year of looking at challenges and not automatically saying NO.)

One of my friends found this wonderful article from TrailMeister.  The gentleman who started TrailMeister, Robert Eversole, lives in our area.  He's a wealth of information.   I highly recommend reading this: Hunting Season Safety: Five Tips To Stay Safe On Horse Trails During the Hunt.

Tip #1 Be Bright!

Tip #2 Make Some Noise!

I tied a cowbell to my saddle horn and it made some tinkling sounds during the whole four hour trip.  But whenever we were hidden in brush, I picked it up and rang it loud and proud.

(Leah did not look terribly excited about it, but she didn't complain much.  By the end of the trip, she seemed to have figured out what I was doing, and looked happy at my ringing.  Oh, that keeps us from being Cougar dinner.  Ring away!)

*Backtrack: I also spent about 2 minutes that morning, before we left, walking up and down the aisles of the barn ringing the bells to desensitize Leah and Penny while they were eating their breakfast.

Tip #3 Be Knowledgable

I spoke to a lot of people beforehand, and everyone who knew that area said it was hunted only by special permit or invitation.  They said that on a Wednesday mid-morning, it would be even less busy.

They were right.  We didn't run into one hunter until we were leaving at 4:30 pm.  Turns out, hunters prefer morning and evening.

#4 Be Prepared

Part of preparation is making sure your horse is desensitized to the sound of gun shot.  At our house, we have our own shooting range, so that was NOT a problem.  Our neighbors all have shooting ranges, too.  Every day, you will hear gun shot within ten acres of us.  My horses are all used to it.  Tumbleweed was a bit scared at first, but even he is deaf to gunshot now.

#5 Be Friendly to the hunters.

As we left, we ran into hunters who were just starting out.  They asked us if we'd seen deer.  We told them no.  In fact, I think we had scared every living thing in Rustler's Gulch clear to Canada, with all that bell ringing and talking and laughing!

So, don't miss out on an opportunity to ride during hunting season.  Just be extra cautious and prepared for what you'll meet.


  1. I bet those hunters weren't too thrilled you scared all the deer away lol! The only ones you really need to worry about are the disgruntled ones that feel they are entitled. Luckily there aren't many. Responsible hunters look before they shoot, but regardless accidents can happen. I don't hunt, but some of my family and some friends do. Brad & I just don't trail ride on public grounds during gun hunting season. Glad everyone enjoyed the ride & stayed safe! Looks beautiful!!

    1. There are some areas I'd be less inclined to ride, but that's where the knowledge and preparation paid off. I spoke to enough people to feel secure that it wasn't hunted much. One other tip is stick to the main, wide trails. We didn't do that for a small portion of this ride, but I would highly suggest doing it.

  2. Always good to have a plan. Yours was a good one. There are so many hunters by us that we don’t ever go out and I fear for my herd because they hunt the borders of my property. They’re mostly ok but there are afew who’ve actually come on the property so we’ve got locks on all the gates and no hunting signs up. Glad you had a nice ride.

  3. Looks like a beautiful ride! Hunting season is SO LONG in Idaho that I couldn't go without trail riding for that long. We do the same sorts of things and try to avoid areas we know will be overrun with hunters. And we don't ride on opening weekend! We're thinking of going to the state park this weekend, no hunting allowed there.

  4. Worth all the prep to ride in such a pretty area!

  5. Great tips! I used to live in an area where there was a lot of deer hunting. I will admit that I did tend to shy way from trailing riding during that time to year.

  6. I swear I left a comment here the other day. I bet I forgot to hit post. It was right after anesthesia. Anyway, beautiful pictures! Hunting season in Idaho goes on for months, so we kinda have to go with the flow. We just definitely don't ride the first few weeks, except in state parks, and then we avoid certain areas that are always thick with hunters. Orange all over us and the horses, no dogs, bear spray in case of human predator behavior (year-round). Most people are friendly, though. I should pack a gun but I'm not that comfortable with it. Mainly I got it in case of a need to put a horse down.

  7. We ride all the time during hunting season. Lots of bright orange, and we avoid the early morning/early evening times when the hunters will be most active. A couple of years ago, we actually came across some hunters who had filled their tag (we heard the shot - just ONE, which makes me happy) and were looking to quarter their deer to take it back to the trail head. Compass (one of the riders) offered up her horse to pack it out. Ranger doesn't like dead critters and I was on him bareback, so I left the others and rode back home. The hunters were thrilled with Compass' offer and loaded up the carcass on Eli, who was an absolute rock star.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.