Hiking where hunters aren’t allowed

Gun hunting began Saturday in Wisconsin, and as hunters move across hiking trails into the woods, some trails have restricted hunters from accessing them.

In the Madison area, the Verona section of the Ice Age Trail has six miles where hunters are not allowed. Starting at the Ice Age Junction at McKee Road and finishing in Prairie Moraine Park, people can hike without hunters.

“We’re not inadvertently flushing out deer, or getting in the way of a bullet that’s being fired,” said Ice Age Alliance communications director Lysianne Unruh.

The six-mile stretch runs through an urban area with and sometimes across landowners’ property. Land use agreements between the state and property owners determine hunters’ access.

Starting at the junction at McKee Road, archery hunting is allowed with a permit, but starting at Badger Prairie County Park, which is south of McKee Road, no hunting is allowed.

“It’s really about respect and safety all along the trail during this time of year,” Unruh said.

Much of the decision relies on the preference of property owners and the safety risks of hunting near homes. During the first weekend of gun hunting season, four people have been shot, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Unruh said she recommends wearing blaze orange when hiking in the woods, starting as soon as October. She said dogs should also wear blaze orange in a bandana or some other distinguishing safety element.

More information on trail segments of the Ice Age Trail can be found at the Ice Age Alliance’s website.

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