With Minnesota’s small game hunting season underway and the firearm deer season set to begin Nov. 9, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says making a blaze orange fashion statement this fall might not get you on the best-dressed list, but it just might save your life.
“Wearing blaze orange clothing is a safety requirement to hunt or trap during Minnesota’s small game season or deer season,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR enforcement education program coordinator. “It’s important to be seen by others.”
Small Game Seasons: At least one visible article of clothing above the waist must be blaze orange when taking small game, except when hunting wild turkeys, migratory birds, raccoons, predators, when hunting by falconry, trapping or while hunting deer by archery while stationary.
Deer Season: The visible portion of a cap and outer clothing above the waist, excluding sleeves and gloves, must be blaze orange when hunting or trapping during any open season where deer may be taken by firearms (including special hunts, early antlerless, youth seasons and muzzleloader). Blaze orange includes a camouflage pattern of at least 50 percent blaze orange within each square foot. This restriction does not apply to migratory bird hunters on waters or in stationary shooting locations or to trappers on waters.
“The failure to wear to wear blaze orange puts a hunter in jeopardy of not being seen by someone who does not take the time to properly identify their target and what’s beyond it,” Hammer said.
Hammer recommends faded blaze orange garments be replaced.
“Blaze orange, more than any other color, is the most easily seen and recognized bright, unnatural color against a natural background,” Hammer said. “This shade of orange is the only satisfactory color for hunters to wear under all weather and light conditions. The color of the cap, vest, or coat should be plainly visible from all sides while it is being worn.”
From the standpoint of hunter safety, the wearing of this high-visibility color while deer hunting and while small game hunting in heavy cover, such as for grouse and pheasant, is a great communications tool.
“Blaze orange clothing is a tremendous aid in helping hunters maintain visual contact with one another, particularly when moving through dense cover or woods,” Hammer said. “Any hunter who has ever identified someone strictly by seeing blaze orange knows its value in keeping track of other hunters in the field.”
For those that use ground blinds, Hammer said to remember to place some blaze orange on the outside of the blind for others to see. Tent style blinds can fully conceal even the best dressed hunter.
Some safety tips for nonhunters:
- Wear bright clothing. Choose colors that stand out, like red, orange or green, and avoid white, blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing. Blaze orange vests and hats are advisable.
- Don’t forget to protect pets. Get an orange vest for an accompanying dog.
- Make noise. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation when walking to alert hunters that someone is in the area. Sound carries well across woods and forests, and hunters should listen for any sounds of animal movement.
- Be courteous. Don’t make unnecessary noise to disturb wildlife. Avoid confrontations.
- Make presence known. If a nonhunter hears shooting, the person should raise their voice and let hunters know they’re in vicinity.
- Know the dates of hunting seasons. Learn about where and when hunting is taking place.
- If hunting makes a nonhunter uneasy, the nonhunter should choose a hike in a location where hunting is not allowed.