Will Fire Danger and Drought in Montana Affect Hunting Season?
I have been an outdoorsman my entire life. I start day dreaming about hunting season, the day after hunting season ends. I never stop thinking about where I am going to hunt, when I'm going to hunt and what I am hunting. Im always mentally preparing for the upcoming hunting season. Now that we are in to August, I am getting more and more excited with each passing day. Soon I will feel the sunrise warm my face on a crisp fall morning. Soon, Montana's big game hunting season will start. Or will it?
Over the last two decades I have been overcome with anxiety the weeks leading up to the kick off of Montana's big game archery season. With each passing year, fire seasons are getting more and more extreme. And, each year I fear that the fire danger will get so extreme that the State and FWP will shut it down until the fire danger lifts. Now, that has not happened statewide, but there have been lots of public land access closures enforced in years past.
According to The Billings Gazette
Wildfires and fire danger could leave some hunters unable to access their favorite areas.
Federal and state authorities may close areas due to an active wildfire or in some extreme cases, simply due to fire danger.
Hunters could see access to private lands limited as well. In the bad fire year of 2017 nearly 80 block management areas enacted closures due to fire danger.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks offers some recommendations to avoid starting wildfires:
- Park vehicles on bare ground or ground completely void of vegetation.
- Drive only on paved and well graveled roads.
- After leaving an area, wait for few minutes to make sure that a fire has not started where a vehicle was parked.
- Bring along a fire extinguisher or water-filled weed sprayer, shovel or axe.
- Camp only in designated camping areas.
- Smoke only inside buildings or vehicles.
- Check on any fire restrictions in place.
- Consider limiting activity until fire danger lessens.
I can tell you from experience that I am wary when hunting during dry conditions. I have seen small fires appear out of nowhere, simply because grass on the road touched a hot exhaust pipe. In regards to archery season, a video surfaced last year showing an archer starting a wildfire by simply shooting at an antelope in Wyoming.
In short, let's not give the State a reason to close or delay hunting season due to fire risk. Just play it safe and always be attentive to possible fire causing situations.
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