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With regular Deer hunting with firearms season starting on Saturday here in New York State, I realized that it's a great time to share a hard lesson I learned as an outdoor enthusiast this fall during duck hunting season.

First of all, you would think that as a person who grew up in a home with hunters who hunted during small game season and deer season, that I would have an awareness of when popular hunting seasons were happening since I like to get outside and explore. NOPE. As a non-hunter, any hunting season is way off my radar. I will say that I know that deer hunting starts some time in November but that's it. I have absolutely no idea about other hunting seasons and I'm afraid that got me in a dangerous pickle this fall during duck hunting season.

Very early on a cool October morning, I decided that I really wanted to go out kayaking. I kayak regularly in the spring, summer, and I typically continue well into the fall, until the water gets cold enough to start forming ice since I love it so much but this fall, something happened to shorten my kayaking season dramatically!

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After I got in my kayak on the water that morning at the Portlandville, NY fishing access which is a place I have been known to frequent, I immediately heard several shotgun shots VERY close by, and when I mean close by, I mean really close! Having kayaked in Mud Run Cove on several occasions, I know there are two duck blinds for hunters in the cove. One is almost right across the Susquehanna River from the boat access point, and the other is only a short way up to the right and into the cove.

I think it's very fair to say that I was afraid for my life after hearing gunshots so close and It's very important that I add that the visibility when I was out that morning was about 3 to 5 feet due to extremely thick fog. Because of the fog and low visibility, it never once occurred to me that anyone might be out hunting ducks! WRONG! There is NO WAY hunters could have known I was there. They wouldn't be expecting anyone to kayak in the fog any more than I would expect anyone to hunt in the thick fog.

After hearing those very loud shots, I had to make a very quick decision: leave asap or hightail my kayak left, up the river and away from the hunters. Most sane people would have made the decision to leave since that would obviously be the safe choice. Not me. I knew it would safe if I went upriver and because I must be a little bit kayak crazy, I paddled as fast and loudly as I could up the river and away from the duck hunters. Lucky for me, no one shot at me, thinking I was a large duck.

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I did end up having a very enjoyable paddle that morning after my heart rate calmed down significantly but I came to a very important realization: I need to be VERY aware of duck hunting season and deer hunting season (since I enjoy nature walks). I need to get an orange vest if I do venture out during any hunting season and I absolutely need to avoid kayaking in fog during duck hunting season! I know I was very lucky that day and fully appreciate that.

My advice to hikers during deer season?
- Wear ORANGE or very bright colors, not camouflage colors
- Avoid venturing out in the fog
- Be aware that deer hunting is allowed in state forests and in certain New York State Parks where people like to go like Gilbert Lake State Park. You can find out what state parks allow hunting here.
- KNOW when hunting seasons are and certainly avoid popular hunting areas. There are plenty of safe places to go.

I know, this is all common sense stuff but believe me, sometimes when you really want to do something, common sense can "leave the building". Be safe this hunting season, maybe I'll catch up with you on the trail!

NATURE LOVERS: Varied Scenery Makes This Oneonta, NY Trail A Real Gem

Oneonta, NY is a great place for outdoor recreation with the Susquehanna Greenway Trail. As an ongoing project, there are 3 sections completed in the Susquehanna Greenway for use of the four-section trail system along the Susquehanna River. One of those sections is the Silas Lane Loop Trail which is located just off exit 13 of I-88.

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