During my first semester of graduate school, several of us took an ecology field course in a local field site. One of the girls in the class -- a friend of mine -- hailed from California, and her mother sent her a hunter-orange bandanna to use in the class. We all had a good laugh; the field site is fenced, private property, and we had no reason to think we might be unsafe. Was the city mom that worried about some twenty-somethings hanging out in the woods doing science?
When I hike, I typically wear one bright piece of clothing, but it's not to keep me safe from hunters. From an outdoor class, I learned see me, save me clothing is an important component of the hiking backpack. That way, you have something bright to wave for the helicopter to see you.
Perhaps it's time to rethink my perception of safety. Over the past weekend, a hiking women was shot and killed by a 14-year old bear hunter while she was hiking in Western Washington. While she was bending over, she was mistaken for a bear and fatally shot.
This is yet another example of improper gun use. According to a separate article, the shooter failed to positively identify his target with binoculars, which is the technique taught in the hunting safety class required to acquire a hunting license in Washington state.
The situation also brings up another concern: there is very little separation of uses in public lands. As we continue our revival of nature, I'm concerned that different land uses will come into conflict. People love to bring out bikes, guns, horses, camping equipment, model planes, dogs, and all other manner of items out of doors. We're decreasing our nature by pushing out with suburbs (tho, strangely, people who have spacious back yards seem to be the same people who feel the need to get out of doors even more to enjoy nature).
Overall, I'm not sure what the solution is. As a stop-gap measure, it is definitely important to be mindful and watchful while enjoying the outdoors. Even though we may feel in the middle of nowhere while tramping around in the woods, we need to remember that other people are there too.
And, of course, the most important part, as printed in the Seattle times:
Sgt. Bill Heinchk, of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said he always tells students in his hunters' safety class: "Once that gun goes off, there is no taking it back; everyone's lives are changed forever."