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I'm going to be doing some winter hiking in parks where there are going to be a lot of hunters. Probably only during bow hunting season for deer in NJ. I'll be getting some blaze hats but for the vest can I use ansii orange safety vests which I already own? Is it the wrong type of orange? Will the reflective take be an issue?

Edited to add picture and link of my vest.

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Milwaukee Premium Large/X-Large Orange Class 2-High Visibility Safety Vest https://www.homedepot.com/p/Milwaukee-Premium-Large-X-Large-Orange-Class-2-High-Visibility-Safety-Vest-48-73-5052/311157430

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    I personally would not hike during hunting season without an orange vest. Blaze is great, but the point is just to be seen, so I'm sure the ANSII orange vest you already own is fine, since it's designed for the same purpose. – Jonathan Landrum Oct 11 at 17:25
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    I don't have enough experience to give a good answer but I would definitely say that your goal is to not look like a dear to the hunters. – JIMMYPlay Oct 14 at 15:27
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This answer is based on research and my experience hiking in the United States, specifically the Midwest and Northeastern US. I mostly focus on deer season, because that's the big one in this area. Be sure to find out which hunting seasons are most popular in your area, and look up the specific dates.

Blaze orange and ANSI orange are very similar. In fact, the range of variation for products sold as "blaze orange" or "hunting safety" is pretty much identical to the range of variation of what's sold as ANSI orange. See the comparison below. Although the hunting vest in my example looks lighter in color than the ANSI vest, I've seen examples where the reverse is true.

Blaze orange hunting vest (Source: Amazon.com)

enter image description here

ANSI orange safety vest (Source: Rainwear.us)

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Furthermore, blaze orange is not actually required for hiking during hunting seasons. Hunters may be required to wear fluorescent orange during certain seasons. For example, deer hunters in Pennsylvania are required to wear

"a minimum of 250 square inches [of fluorescent orange] on head, chest and back combined, visible 360 degrees" (source).

The US Forest Service has this tip:

Safety Tips for Non-hunters visiting the National Forests

• Wear bright clothing. Make yourself more visible. Choose colors that stand out, like red, orange or green, and avoid white, blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing. Orange vests and hats are advisable.

The reflective patches shouldn't be a problem, because they're really only visible when you shine a light on them. They won't make the orange any less visible. They will make you more visible if someone shines a light on you, which could happen if someone is hunting at night or in the daytime with a spotlight. Night hunting and/or using a spotlight to stun deer is illegal everywhere I've looked into hunting regulations, which is probably why hunting orange gear tends not to have reflective patches. If anyone is hunting at night, you really want them to be able to see you.

Other safety recommendations (from multiple sources) include:

  • If you bring a dog, the dog should have an orange vest, coat or bandanna.
  • Make noise while you hike. Talk, sing, whistle or clap, much as you would to alert bears of your presence. In fact, bear bells would work well for this.

My personal recommendations:

  • Stay on designated trails as much as possible. Don't go walking through dense brush or tall vegetation, or following game trails. If you must do this, be sure to make plenty of unmistakably human noise. Deer like edge habitat, like areas where forest meets field. Be especially careful (and noisy) when emerging from forest into a clearing.
  • Make sure your orange vest is visible from all directions - if your backpack covers it, get another vest to put on your pack. Make sure your rain gear doesn't hide your orange vest. Or consider getting an orange poncho. Orange bandannas are a cheap and easy way to add a patch of orange to anywhere you need it. They're readily available at stores like dollar general and walmart, especially during hunting season in areas where hunting is popular.
  • Consider not hiking in public hunting areas during the most popular hunting season, the standard firearm deer season. (Some states have special seasons for muzzleloaders and flintlocks - these may be less popular, and thus less crowded and dangerous.) It's just a couple of weeks, so find somewhere that doesn't allow hunting during that time. On the one hand, even aside from the safety concerns, you won't enjoy the hike as much because of constant sound of shooting, and the woods will be crowded. On the other hand, gun hunters only get a limited window, so it's considerate to leave the forest entirely to them during that window. Plus, some people drink while they hunt (not everyone, but it really only takes a few drunks with guns to be both obnoxious and dangerous).
  • Hiking during bow hunting season is fine if you take precautions. For whatever reason, it seems like bow hunting tends not to attract the sort of casual hunters who get drunk while hunting. Maybe that's just because it's less popular than gun hunting, which also means the woods will be less crowded during bow season. Plus bows are silent, so you won't be annoyed by gunshots.

To summarize: Wear bright clothing, ideally orange. Make noise that only a human would make. Avoid looking, sounding and behaving like a deer. Avoid hiking in popular hunting locations during the most popular hunting seasons.

  • I've found that orange can under certain circumstances, like low light, look like the red of deer. I've found fluorescent blue to be more visible in thick forest and less of a "natural color". – bob1 Oct 12 at 7:15
  • @bob1 What region is that in, and what species of deer? The white-tailed deer we have in the eastern US are kind of a drab, grayish brown during the fall hunting season. I know some areas (maybe Europe?) have red deer, so it would be interesting to know if blaze orange is recommended for hunting safety in those areas. But I agree that wearing some bright blue is a good idea. – csk Oct 14 at 15:20
  • @bob1 and csk: we use orange as well in Europe (apparently pink works also, but at the very least, orange is hugely more popular). Blue is not good as deer are dichromats with blue-sensitive cones, so fluorescent blue would be highly visible for them. Orange works as their yellow/green/mid wavelength cones give similar signal for orange as for the usual greenery. I found a simulation of how things may look for a deer: qdma.com/can-deer-see-blaze-orange - notice how the bluish camo sticks out in deer vision (also the orange could do somewhat better imho ... – cbeleites supports Monica Oct 21 at 20:13
  • ...but that may be an artifact of the image conversion if their cones' wavelength sensitivity isn't exactly aligned with our green cones') – cbeleites supports Monica Oct 21 at 20:13
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    CSK and @cbeleites - New Zealand for red deer and sika, mostly orange here too, though blue camo is also sold in hunting shops and I've seen a number of hunters using it. I guess if the aim is to not be shot, non-natural colors are best. One additional piece of advice I was given by a former professional hunter, was if you are carrying a carcass or head along - make sure you make as much non-animal noise as possible - sing, whistle etc. and tie some high vis to it too. – bob1 Oct 21 at 20:51

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