A friend of ours came over last weekend to deliver a load of round hay bales. As he jumped out of the truck cab, the blaze orange cap was hard to miss. I asked if he had been hunting earlier in the day. “No, I went to check the cows and I thought, better safe than sorry,” he replied.
Hunting season is here. During this time of year, I wake many mornings to the sound of “Pop. Pop. Pop.” I know that hunters, some from the city, some from my area, are in the woods. Still, I never think when I walk out to the pasture to wear orange, well, until now.
Like many farmers, I am so preoccupied with the chore at hand that my attire is the last thing I think about. But during this time of year, what I wear around the farm should be the first thing on my mind.
Rather than risk going unnoticed, our friend keeps a blaze orange cap in his truck cab and puts it on his head before stepping out to check cows. “I want them to see I am there,” he said. Farmers can also where orange vests or orange jackets. It is important that those not associated with farm life actually see the farmer working.
In many cases, city dwellers are coming to the country to hunt on private land. In their defense, they do not know the farmer's schedule for checking or feeding livestock. For our friend, his cows were running on rented land. Like the hunter, he did not know who was coming to hunt or when. There is no requirement, unless written or verbally agreed to, that a landlord inform a tenant when hunters will arrive during any given season. So the farmer needs to take precautions.
The Missouri Department of Conservation offers tips for deer hunter to keep safe. I adapted a few of them for Missouri farmers out working the land this hunting season.
1. Wear hunter orange when entering and leaving the pasture.
2. Hang an orange vest or other cloth on or near the gate to alert hunters to your presence without attracting the attention of deer.
3. Alter the time of day you check livestock.
4. Always let a loved one know when you are going to check livestock and on which farm.
5. If possible, carry a cell phone.
Hunters are some of the most safety conscious individuals carrying firearms. They know that somewhere in a tree stand sits someone’s grandfather, father or brother. Hunters watch out for hunters. And the farmer can make it easier for hunters to watch out for them by wearing orange.
Let’s make this deer season safe for both the hunter and the farmer.