Fire safety for hunting season

A mule deer with large antler rack in a hay field on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Oregon.

It may feel like fall, but just because temperatures are getting cooler doesn’t mean conditions aren’t still tinder-dry. With hunting season already underway in some places and rapidly approaching for others, USDA Forest Service land managers are asking hunters and other forest visitors remember that fire season is still underway – and that even past fires can present hazards long after their flames have been extinguished.

When hunting on public lands, remember:

  • Just because the weather is cooler doesn’t mean it isn’t dry enough for fires to start, and spread! Know before you go if there fire restrictions in effect.
  • If campfires are allowed, make sure your fire is dead out before leaving. Drown, stir, and drown again – if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave!
  • Consider campfire alternatives, such as propane stoves.
  • Do not idle, drive or park on dry grass. Vehicle exhaust, or the hot metal on the undercarriage, could ignite the grass or brush beneath.
  • Do not flick cigarettes out vehicle windows. Extinguish smoking materials in an ashtray.
  • Check any chains you may be using on a trailer. Dragging metal on the roadbed can start a shower of sparks into dry vegetation causing a wildfire.
  • Report wildfires by calling 911.
  • Any time you are travelling in the woods, let someone know your planned route, destination and expected return time.

If you’re visiting an area recently burned by wildfire, use caution!

  • People intending to hike into, or near, the fire area should remain alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. Know the forcasted weather before entering the area, assess the weather conditions while in the area, and stay clear of burned trees. Don’t camp or hang out in the wildfire area.
  • Hazard trees or snags tend to pose the most immediate threat.  Dead or dying trees that remain standing after a wildfire are unstable, especially in high winds, and can lose heavy branches or fall at any time.
  • Look up! People are often more aware of obstacles on the ground but don’t often look up and around to assess danger.
  • Ash and fallen needles are slippery and can make for treacherous footing on trails.
  • Burned-out stump holes can make the ground weak and subject to failure. Be aware that ground can be unstable, due to burned-out roots beneath the surface.
  • Loose rocks and logs are unpredictable, and can down slope towards you or out from under you.
  • Burned vegetation can also contribute to landslides, mudslides and erosion when the rain returns. Badly burned ground is less absorbent than healthy forest soil. Flash floods and mud flows may occur.
  • Expect to encounter firefighter traffic, dusty roads, and smoke in some areas. Be aware, and be prepared for possible obstacles or closures related to firefighting activity. Be careful, for your safety and theirs.
Image of a target, icons, and text: Know Before You Go - Hunting and Shooting on Public Lands. Get a map: Know where you can hunt, check for any fire restrictions in effect. Make sure your fire is dead out: Drown stir, and drown again, then check for warmth. If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave. Check the weather: Avoid fires on hot, dry and windy days. Watch for fire danger ratings and ref flag warnings. Place targets away from dry grass, and do not use targets on trees. Consider an indoor range for target practice on hot days. If you see a fire, call 911 to report its location, what is in danger, and stay on the phone until help arrives. Thank you for your help in preventing wildfires!

Know Before You Go – Hunting and Shooting on Public Lands. Get a map: Know where you can hunt, check for any fire restrictions in effect. Make sure your fire is dead out: Drown stir, and drown again, then check for warmth. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave. Check the weather: Avoid fires on hot, dry and windy days. Watch for fire danger ratings and ref flag warnings. Place targets away from dry grass, and do not use targets on trees. Consider an indoor range for target practice on hot days. If you see a fire, call 911 to report its location, what is in danger, and stay on the phone until help arrives. Thank you for your help in preventing wildfires!

Leave a Reply