It's opening morning of Youth Firearm Deer Season here in Illinois, and in the course of several conversations last night, I was surprised by the number of experienced hunters who failed to realize that even though they would be archery hunting, they were still required to wear blaze orange when in the field this weekend.
Here's the skinny on the blaze orange requirements in Illinois - courtesy of the Illinois DNR 2012 - 2013 Hunting and Trapping Digest:
Blaze Orange Clothing Requirements
A solid blaze orange cap/hat and an upper outer garment displaying at least 400 square inches of solid blaze orange material must be worn:
• to hunt deer with any firearm during all firearm deer seasons.
• to hunt or trap any species, except migratory waterfowl, during all firearm deer seasons in counties open to firearm deer hunting.
• to archery deer hunt during firearm deer seasons (where permitted) on DNR-owned or -managed sites.
• to track wounded deer with a dog during all firearm deer seasons.
• to archery turkey hunt during any firearm deer season.
• to accompany youth during youth controlled pheasant or firearm deer hunts.
• by hunters and trappers during pheasant, rabbit, quail and partridge season while
trapping or hunting pheasant, quail, Hungarian partridge, rabbit, snipe, rail and woodcock on all DNR sites. On private land, a solid blaze orange hat or cap must be worn to: hunt with a firearm for upland game,pheasant, rabbit, quail, partridge, etc.
Camouflage blaze orange material does not meet the requirements.
It is unlawful to use or occupy a ground blind during any firearm deer season on DNR-owned or -managed land unless at least 400 square inches of solid. vivid blaze orange material is securely attached to the uppermost portion of the blind and a substantial amount of orange is visible for 360 degrees.
I spend a great deal of time on public land photographing hunters, nature, and wildlife. I wear blaze even when it is not required by DNR regulations. If you are going to be afield in an area where the likelihood exists that someone could be hunting, whether it's deer firearm season, upland game, or archery hunting, it doesn't hurt to don a blaze cap, throw on a vest and even go so far as to slap an orange vest on your dog. It just might save you the embarsment of having to explain to ER personnel why you have a broadhead in the butt or a smattering of birdshot in your back.
Remember when afield whether you are hunting or hiking ALWAYS SAFETY FIRST!