Friday, September 19, 2008

Hunting season

They don't look much like deer to me....

Do you ride with bells on?

If I ride - or work out in the pasture - in the fall when hunters are apt to be out roaming around, I wear bright colors. If I ride down the road I wear a blaze orange vest. Riding in more forested areas during hunting season, a lot of folks use bells. I can't find a picture of what I'm thinking of (something like a large sleigh bell with a deep, merry sounding chime, on a snap that attaches to your saddle), but sleigh bells, bear bells or rhythm beads also work - anything that makes the kind of noise that says, "I'm not attached to dinner or a potential trophy!"

I worry about the horses out in the pasture, though. They're used to the sound of gunfire (there's a pheasant hunting/guiding operation next door), so that aspect of hunting season doesn't phase them. Like all horses, however, they will head toward something that looks and sounds out of place first, before running away.

Lined up along the fence watching T sight in his rifle last fall

Not necessarily a good habit, if you're vaguely deer-shaped & colored.

A lot of livestock doesn't make it through hunting season every year. You wouldn't believe what people can mistake for a deer, elk, or moose. And out here, where there aren't a lot of trees to stop them, a rifle bullet can travel a LOOONG way.

So what to do?

Hands up, stranger!

Wishful thinking. But obviously, the horses themselves
aren't going to be much of a deterent!

Since our horses aren't stalled and don't wear blankets or halters (when they're turned out), and I don't really want to paint them orange - don't laugh, I've seen it! - the options for keeping them out of harms way are more limited.

Location (or re-location) - We try to keep the horses out of the front pasture, up near the house or back off the road where the terrain and distance will help protect them from idiots and stray bullets.

Signage - The property is posted No Hunting & No Trespassing.

Good neighbor relations - the neighbors are friendly, and are as responsible as can be hoped given that one of them has a fair number of visiting hunters coming through every year. The hunts the pheasant operation runs are guided by the owners, who are careful to remind their hunters about safety, livestock & not shooting north toward the farm. The other neighbors don't hunt much, thankfully.

None of this prevented me from finding one of the yearling fillies dead of a gunshot wound in the side a few years ago. No responsible party ever came forward - more than likely, she was the victim of a spent bullet and the hunter never knew s/he'd hit anything. I was sick.

And so, I worry. And will probably continue to do so every year I'm a horse owner.


Latigo Liz said...

Rhythm beads are great. I need to get back into making them again. :)

fssunnysd said...

You make your own? Thanks for the link. The accent beads are really unusual. And really pretty, too! Hmmm - haven't found Sunny a Christmas present yet....

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I hear ya on the hunters. We lock the horses in the "lane" during the day during hunting season. The land next to ours is walk-in and people always seem to disregard the No Hunting signs posted on our fence line and end up in our pastures. We patrol pretty heavy, but still people try to sneak over, because they see the deer go that way and they don't realize there is a house down in the river bottom.
It never fails to amaze me how belligerent people can get about it too. One guy started screaming that I was scaring his deer away. I asked him if he saw the No Hunting sign posted on the fence line he just crossed and he tried to tell me that I was deliberately interrupting his hunt. Uhhh NO buddy you are trespassing! And the grouse hunters that drove onto our land and shot their limit of grouse. Even though there is a No Hunting sign at the gate they came through. My brother confiscated their grouse and we got the pleasure of eating them.

Speaking of-grouse season opened up today and youth deer season is open too-time to get back on patrol...yeeehaww.;)

fssunnysd said...

Scares the heck out of me every year. And it only takes a few jerks to really make landowners resentful and suspicious of hunters as a general group. It's so hard to know which ones turn into idiots as soon as they've pinned on their license!