Saw a big buck this morning, walking across our pasture. He had his head down. Either he was sneaking away from a hunter or following the scent of a doe. If he makes it through today, the last day of the main hunting season, there is a good chance the buck will live and breed for another year. He still has to survive muzzle loading season, much less of a threat to deer.
Most of the month of November in Maine is given to the pursuit of the white tail. Only Sundays are off-limits to hunting. Walking in the woods, riding a horse in the fields, working too close to the forest, can all get you shot by a careless hunter. It is safest to stay in the yard during hunting season. Even then, you can get shot and people have.
Early November with its warm, biting insect-free days are perfect for horse riding. It is hard for me to accept not going out on the land I own and pay taxes to keep. But, there have been too many hunting accidents for me to trust a few scraps of blaze orange to keep me safe. One year I was horse riding in the woods with a friend on Sunday during bird-hunting season and a couple hunters shot at us. They thought we were birds. Sunday hunters, with their disregard for rules, are more dangerous than regular hunters.
This year I decked the horses out in blaze orange safety vests and let them out of the mucky barnyard during the afternoons to exercise and graze in the pasture near the house. Yes, I was taking a chance they would be mistaken for gigantic deer. The poor things go stir crazy if they have to spend most of November cooped up in a small barnyard. By all rights they should be safe near houses and roads without having to wear orange. I don’t want to risk it. After today the horses will have freedom to move as they wish and we will all be much happier (including the deer!)