With hunting seasons beginning soon and ideal conditions for wildfires to spread, hunters should do their part to ensure they aren’t contributing to the problem. Here are 10 things every hunter can do during fire season:
Check your hunting area in advance and see if there are fire closures or access restrictions due to fire danger. (The first is where wildfires are happening; the second is where land managers restrict access to prevent fires.) You can check Idaho Fish and Game’s fire page at fishandgame. idaho.gov/fire.
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Most fires are typically extinguished or under control by October hunts. However, the Pioneer Fire that continues to burn in the Lowman area may potentially affect access this fall. If you know fires are burning in your hunting area, you may want to delay your hunts or choose another area.
BE CAREFUL WITH ALL FIRES
Whether a campfire, gas lantern, cook stove, barbecue, etc., all can quickly start fires in tinder-dry forests and deserts. Firefighting resources are limited, and you don’t want to add to the problem. Know the fire restrictions for the area you’re hunting and abide by them. Even after rain or snow, forests can remain dry and flammable.
BE CAREFUL WITH ALL MOTORIZED EQUIPMENT
Parking vehicles on dry grass can ignite fires. Chainsaws, generators and other machines with gas engines can start fires. Use them wisely and within the rules of fire restrictions.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR FIRES
If you spot a wildfire, report it immediately by calling 911. Hunters may want to carry a shovel and water jug in their vehicle and put out any campfires they see left unattended.
ABIDE BY CLOSURES
Sometimes area closures seem to extend far beyond the actual fire, and hunters may be tempted to sneak into their favorite spot. It is illegal to enter a closed area. Wildfires also can move fast, and rescues require taking resources away from other firefighting efforts.
AVOID BURNED AREAS
They can be hazardous in many ways, including falling trees, holes, loose rocks, etc. They also aren’t much fun to hunt. Give them a rest and let the land recover.
BEWARE OF RAINSTORMS
They will help put out any remaining fires, but rain also can cause flash flooding and landslides on newly burned areas.
EXCEPT CLOSURES AFTER FIRES ARE OUT
Land managers are cautious with newly burned areas and may keep restrictions in place well into winter and possibly longer.
UNDERSTAND FIRES AREN’T ALL BAD
Fires can have tragic consequences, as we have seen with lost lives, burned homes and disrupted lives and livelihoods. But fires also can improve wildlife habitat and, in most wildlands, are part of the natural cycle.
If you’re planning to hunt big game in Pioneer Fire area ...
If the fire continues to burn into the fall hunting season, it’s likely that area closures will continue when hunting seasons roll around. The good news tied to possible area closures is that big-game hunters have options.
Mule deer hunters holding a general deer tag can hunt in other open general hunt areas, including the majority of unit 39. If you are the holder of a controlled mule deer tag, you have the option of switching that tag for a general over-the-counter hunt before your controlled mule deer hunt starts or hunting another portion of unit 39. This same strategy applies to holders of a controlled elk tag; this tag can be exchanged for a general over-the-counter-zone tag as long as the exchange is made prior to the start date of the controlled hunt. And remember that a large portion of fine elk habitat in Hunt Unit 39 remains un-impacted by this year’s fire activity.
Holders of a Sawtooth Zone elk tag or general deer hunters planning a trip to Hunt Unit 33 or 35 have similar options, including hunting in most of these two units, un-impacted by the Pioneer Fire.
Idaho Fish and Game