One of our Brittanys, 4-year-old Zoe, models her orange coat. Credit: Julie Harris / BDN

The cardinal rule whenever you have a firearm under your control is to know your target and what’s beyond.

It could be a rock, a tree, a highway, a housing development, a non-game animal or a person beyond that target.

Maine got a sad and classic example of when this doesn’t happen 35 years ago when Karen Wood, who was wearing white mittens in her yard in Hermon, was killed by a hunter’s bullet.

The theory is that her mittens were mistaken for the white flag — the appearance of the raised tail of a deer as it’s running away.

She left twin babies. It was a hunter’s mistake that ruined lives.

The responsibility should always be on the person who has control of the gun. No argument there.

But there are things people who are hiking, gardening, exploring, playing with dogs, working with farm animals, walking or doing other activities can do as added measures of precaution.

The most useful suggestion: wear blaze orange. Hunters are required in Maine to wear at least two articles of clothing that are blaze or safety orange. One has to be a hat. The other a coat or vest that covers the majority of the hunter’s torso.

This is for safety.

Hunters are used to looking for the orange of other hunters, so seeing that bright color on animals or people who are not hunters is an easy read.

I think it’s particularly important as firearms season winds down and hunters are feeling the pressure of the hunting days coming to an end.

I even carry orange vests in the car when I’m traveling, just in case I break down on the side of the road and have to walk for assistance.

Donning an orange hat or vest to work in the yard, go get the mail or take a walk doesn’t take a lot of effort and should give you some peace of mind.

I also have orange for my dogs. They have full torso coats, not just orange collars. You can get vests and chest protectors in orange for them too.

My Brittany dogs, which are orange — sort of a burnt not blaze orange — and white, don’t get to hunt during firearms season. If they are bounding through the woods, I don’t trust deer hunters to not shoot them, either by misidentifying the running animal or thinking they are chasing deer.

That’s my personal paranoia, but I know other bird dog owners who feel the same way.

Once the deer guns get put away, the dogs get to hunt again. And the orange I wear around the yard can be put away for another year.

Julie Harris is senior outdoors editor at Bangor Daily News. She has served in many roles since joining BDN in 1979, including several editing positions. She lives in Litchfield with her husband and three...