6 signs of caution when taking a walk in the woods or on a hike

There are many reasons to plan, prepare and create an outdoor walk that is safe and enjoyable and will keep you coming back, but sometimes nature has a different idea. Of course we take water, snacks, our cellphoneand keep insect repellent and sunscreen handy for those hot weather rides, but we can’t foresee every circumstance that may unfold before us.

With that in mind, we’d like to shed some light on some things you may have heard of or just want more information on. These are a few things that are good to know when going out in an area far from home, or even when traveling close to home in areas with larger predators or frequent storms. We like to travel outdoors on our own two feet, but our eyes and ears provide us with the most information. Know what signs to look for when crossing the great outdoors can go a long way to making your trip happy and healthy. Now it’s just a matter of having this information in your back pocket to use when things change for the worse. Hoping this never happens to any of us.

scavenger bird activity

Red-headed vulture, carrion crow or buzzard – whatever you call them, they have a very specific job in the wild, and we should all be grateful for that. But as they clean up nature’s messes, scavenger birds also provide a sure sign that something is dead – and that means crows, hawks and even bald eagles can be found at a kill site. . It is a harbinger of news in the woods which may also attract predators such as coyotes, wolves and bears. This also applies to hunters who regularly hunt areas where they have dressed an animal in the field or who are still stalking wounded game. While hunters carrying firearms may be more protected when walking, anyone can have a sudden run-in with a wild animal looking for something to eat.

Carcass sighting

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It’s like seeing scavengers and finding them on a dead animal, but the difference here is more to come across a larger carcass like a deer or elk. In areas where both game and predators are found, this may be a sign of a cache stored by a larger predator such as a bear or mountain lion.

It can also simply be a dead animal unfortunately near a trail or campsite. Either way, red-headed vultures, crows, and crows are the least of your worries when you come across a carcass that may be visited by other creatures who may be very territorial and unhappy to see you. .

Animals that cry or howl

Photo by Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Wolves and coyotes howl both to communicate their position to other pack members and to warn other rival packs. Coyotes, for example, can make a wide variety of sounds, but like any predator, they are silent when hunting. The difference is that humans can use these sounds to recognize the presence of these animals and avoid them. Animals that cry like rabbits do so when they are in distress, possibly when injured or attacked by a predator. This, in turn, can and will attract the attention of other predators (as any coyote hunter will tell you), which may be a precursor to an unwanted interaction with you or your family on the trail.


A telltale sign to avoid in hikers, hunters, and campers is smoke in the air. Sometimes it’s a campfire and sometimes a controlled burn; but where there is smoke, there is fire – and it must be avoided at all costs. Even so, this is an “if you see something, say something” scenario and should be reported if the source is not obvious, especially in deep woods. The first thing to do is leave the area and call 911, because you can never underestimate the power of a wildfire. A fire can change and grow in intensity very quickly, particularly in windy conditions and especially if flames are visible.


For those who live, hunt or hike in areas where bears live, the sight of a bear cub or two can be one of the most invigorating and blissful circumstances you can have in the woods – until ’til you come to your senses and remember that the mother sow is never far away. Once you have come to this realization, don’t panic and run; simply make your presence known by moving in the opposite direction. Try to keep an eye out for the animal or animals to make sure they do what most wild creatures would do: avoid the human they just saw. The cubs are cute and cuddly, but not their mother. Try not to get between her and her young and always give them a way to escape.

Recent storms

Thunder and lightning are things to avoid and never attempt to cross the woods during a storm. Additionally, the aftermath of high winds like those of a tornado can leave woods and hiking trails messy, along with a plethora of hidden hazards. Not so long ago we discussed it at length to give you an idea of ​​what to look for and what to avoid after a storm, but every region is different.

Whether you’re hiking or planning to make a mess – with a commitment to work hard to clean, repair and adjust trails as needed – or just want to clear the path you walk regularly, you’ll always need time to adjust to recent damage. Trees can now have large broken branches that can fall at any time; and new brush piles can be laden with creatures that weren’t there before, like snakes.

The key is to be aware of your surroundings at all times for the safest and most enjoyable hike or reconnaissance trip that gets you home safely.

Please check out my book”The path of the hunter” from HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my Web pageOr on Facebook and Youtube.


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