Fall is here and so is hunting season! Keep your pets safe this fall by keeping in mind some general tips.
Knowing when and where hunting might be taking place in your area is a great place to begin. For residents of Gregg and Harrison Counties, you can check this page at Texas Parks and Wildlife for hunting seasons in each county, and at this page for a location map of public hunting areas in Texas.
When you are out with your pet, keep an eye out for signs that there may be hunters in the area. Are there cars or trucks parked on road shoulders near wooded areas? Do you see people wearing ‘hunter orange’ hats, vests? White-tailed deer are crepuscular animals, which means that they are mostly active in the early morning and late evening hours. This is when most hunters will be out, so if you are walking near designated hunting locations, make sure to take steps to make sure that you are visible. You can use brightly colored or reflective gear for both you and your pet – collars, leashes, vests, bandanas, etc. (See our post on walking your pet during reduced daylight hours here.)
Stay on well-traveled roads or paths and make sure to keep pets on a leash. In addition to keeping them from chasing a deer or other animal, it will also prevent them from wandering into areas where they might come across old carcasses or hunters actively seeking a target. If you spot a hunter while walking, make yourself known to him or her. Surprises during hunting season can be dangerous. Keep a bell handy or hum a tune while you walk so that you can be identified as being in the area.
Pets are typically afraid of the sound of gunshots (with the exception of hunting dogs), so you might want to avoid areas where you know hunting is taking place nearby. If you have a pet that gets particularly agitated from the sounds, you can consider giving them a calming medication (give us a call if this is a concern for your pet).
While you don’t want to curtail all outdoor activities during hunting season, you might consider a few indoor games to keep your pets busy during the peak season – things like hiding treats for them to find, obedience and clicker training, a small agility course, or a grooming session. These can add some extra in-home stimulation and make up for shorter walks.