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Keeping Yourself and Your Dog Safe During Hunting Season

It's that time again when your normal dog walks are off limits--or at least not as comfortable and free as they usually are. It's deer hunting season. The boats this weekend were loaded with hunters, and my usual Saturday walking spot had 4 trucks and about 8 hunters in full regalia in the parking lot. Not to worry. There are still plenty of walks available to you and your dog.

According to the Massachusetts Dept. of Fish and Game, there are four deer hunting seasons on Nantucket. For those dates, go here, but it basically runs from a little before Thanksgiving until the very end of the year. So from now until then (except for Sundays), you might want to choose one of these safe(r) trails.

First and foremost, and where I feel the most comfortable, is the beach. I especially recommend Smith’s Point, Dionis, and Jetties during hunting season, but any beach will do! They are for the most part empty, the sand is hard, and fun things have washed up on shore by the wind and rain.

The bike paths are another safe option. Not as fun as letting your dogs run off leash, but they do come in handy on those afternoons when it's already dark when you leave work. Bring a flashlight, attach a light or reflective collar to your dog, and off you march.

If you have a yearning for the woods and moors, the Nantucket Conservation Foundation has a list of their propoerties that DO NOT allow hunting here. Be sure to read the whole document, as some places allow hunting under certain circumstances. As a quick reference, however, these are closed to hunting: Sanford Farm, Tupancy, Masquetuck, Milestone Cranberry Bog, and portions of the Windswept Cranberry Bog.

Of the Land Bank properties, only Mizzenmast does not allow hunting.

Even if you are walking your dogs in these areas that are “safe,” be sure to wear flame orange—you and your dogs. I also recommend, especially if you are going to allow your dog some off-leash time, that you put bells on your dog: a friendly reminder to any hunter that the running blur is not, in fact, a deer.

Happy—and SAFE—walking!

A Dog’s Life, Nantucket, explores the many dog (and other animal)-related issues on Nantucket. Stephanie Henke co-founded Nantucket Safe Harbor for Animals and created and manages Nantucket Dog Walk, a website dedicated to the many glorious dog walks on Nantucket.