A dog wearing a hat.

Outdoors in RI: “Into the woods I go, to lose my mind, and find my soul…” – Jeff Gross

by Jeff Gross, contributing writer

“Into the woods I go, to lose my mind, and find my soul.” – John Muir (known as the Father of the National Parks, Muir was an American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, botanist, zoologist, glaciologist, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States).

With hunting season rolling along, so is the mandatory requirement for fluorescent orange wearing while on state lands.  This can be in the form of a hat and/or vest.  Personally, I would recommend a hat as it will be the tallest point on you and the hat should stick above any shrubbery you may walk by.  The ladies have a signature look for Ball caps as they roll the brim downward and draw a ponytail out through the adjustable strap.  Having seen this style a few times afield it is rather flattering.  

Tip:  throw 2-3 orange hats stashed in your car or truck as there is nothing worse than getting to the management area and realizing “Oh, Shit” I forgot my orange.  2-3 hats will allow you to legalize anyone in your party as well. 

I would recommend the RI DEM start heavily enforcing the Fluorescent Orange regulation immediately.  This writer is often encountering civilians without orange. Last weekend was the icing on the cake for not wearing orange

Feel free if you are enforcement or RI DEM in any capacity to use the information on these violators.  A good friend has humorously nicknamed me “Detective Gross”, which I take as a complement. This lack of orange must be addressed, as sooner or later, statistically, someone will accidentally get shot.  Back in the day this writer was peppered with bird shot twice by careless hunters, and I was in fact wearing orange.  Fortunately, no shot broke the skin.

During Deer season last year, allegedly in Big River Management area, a deer hunter was taking aim on a pair of deer when he noticed movement 30 yards behind the deer. If he fired and missed, he could have possible struck one of the two women who came up to look at the deer, and had zero orange on.  The women’s movements were what tipped the deer hunter off.  Thank God for small blessings. 

Another incident of great concern is while on a training hike with Abby in Simmons Mill Management Area I encountered a woman from Massachusetts who refused to wear orange. I engaged the woman while she was exiting her car with her 2 giant poodles.  I kindly suggested she wear orange as it was deer hunting season as well as other hunting seasons. She told me she had a vest at home, but made no effort to wear it.  As I headed down the trail her poodles kept interfering with Abby’s training as the poodles kept getting in the way.  While at Simmons Mill Pond the poodles cornered Abby in the pond while Abby went for a quick swim.  I asked the woman to call off her poodles, who were running amuck, but her reply was they wanted to play with Abby. When I told her that I did not want Abby socializing with other dogs, I was snapped at by the woman, who stated, “Oh, let them play.” My reply was, “I am in a training session with Abby for hunting season and I don’t want her playing with other dogs.”  The woman snapped at me saying it isn’t hunting season yet! (Really??? Try Deer, Coyote and Dove seasons are open!)  At this point this Massachusetts elitist was apparently used to getting her own way, so I held Abby next to me until the woman walked away, and I reminded her again that Orange is mandatory.  She quipped back some unintelligible angry reply and proceeded deeper into the woods. 

Upon Abby and I exiting the area I took a photo of her car and my suspicions were correct of her pompous Massachusetts attitude, mixed with a peace sign!  There is no excuse for this woman and others not to wear orange as even my editor, who is not an outdoors person, adds a PSA on her Constant Contacts each week regarding wearing orange on state lands.

I encountered 4 other individuals not wearing orange on that particular hike.  Two were respectful and said they did not know it was deer season in a polite manner. The other two displayed an attitude about wearing orange.  In fact, one guy told me “Too bad” when I mentioned the need for orange.  Again, I encourage the RI DEM to reach out to eliminate this problem before there is an accidental casualty.

An easy way to address the orange problem is to set up Boy and Girls Scouts at the popular management gates selling Orange Ball Caps for $20 each if people try to enter and are not wearing orange.  People can have the choice of donating to the scouts for a ball cap or the people can enter the state land and be cited and pay the $100 fine plus mandatory court technology surcharge of $3.25 for a total of $103.25. Deer Archery hunters are exempt from wearing orange while in their deer stands, however archers must wear orange while walking to and from their deer stands.

Last note on Simmons Mill Management area:  Numerous groups have added educational displays in the lands. We all share these lands and must coexist.  While these displays are of use to folks, especially children, as guides on walking tours, this writer finds it hilarious that some of these elitists that roam Simmons Mill demand to put their beliefs on all users. 

This land and other state lands on the East Bay were purchased with Fish and Wildlife money obtained from the Pittman Robertson Act.  Hunters and Anglers need to take priority on these lands. Some of the elitists feel all must clean up after their dogs. There are scoops every 50 feet, placed there by these haughty people.  The Bears, Deer, Bobcats and Coyotes must be having a good laugh as people clean up after their dogs in the woods.  What happens in the woods stays in the woods is my practice.

Have a safe week – wear orange in the woods – talk to you next week! Jeff


Read more articles by Jeff Gross, here:

Jeffrey “Jeff” Gross spent 21 years as an Analytical Chemist at the USCG R&D Center in Groton, Connecticut, Woods Hole Laboratories, and Helix Technologies. Changing careers is a “great learning experience for everyone”, Jeff says, and I’m an avid outdoorsman and conservationist, a student of the sciences, and the world. The US holds too many wonders not to take a chance and explore them”.Jeff is the Model Train and Railroad entrepreneur. Proud Golden Retriever owner. Ultra strong Second Amendment Advocate and Constitutionalist. “Determined seeker of the truth”. Jeff is a RIFGPA Legislative and Legal Officer, Freshwater Chairman, NRA Liaison.His subjects include Outdoors, Second Amendment, Model Railroading, and Whimsical.

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