Hunting lands recovering from wildfire season

Print Article

Hannah Beebe, age 12, shot her first buck, a 4x4 whitetail, in the Libby Creek area on Sunday Oct. 25 with a .223 caliber rifle. Took it down with one shot.

With hunting seasons for most of Montana’s game animals underway or about to begin, sportsmen and sportswomen are heading into a landscape recovering from some of the worst wildfires in recent memory.

But while over a million acres have burned, Montana hunters are optimistic.

“Mule deer numbers are up, whitetails are starting to recover...everybody’s pretty positive about this upcoming season,” John Borgreen told the Daily Inter Lake.

A founding member of the Montana Sportsmen’s Alliance, Borgreen said fires have altered antelope, elk and game bird movements. But overall, “in these forested areas, fire has been part of the landscape for thousands of years, and it seems like the animals can adapt to it.”

In July, Montana Public Radio’s Mike Hillis found scant documentation of deer and elk fatalities from wildfire.

He also reported that “on winter ranges where fires have not burned for more than 20 years, an acre of winter range will typically yield from 30 to 120 pounds of forage,” he observed. “On winter ranges that burned in the last year or two, however, the production typically jumps to 200 to 3000 pounds of forage per acre.”

Hunters’ experiences this fall have borne these findings out.

In “those areas that have burned, I’ve already seen new growth,” says Trey Curtis, collegiate curriculum and outreach assistant with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

That growth and other aspects of the post-fire landscape, he told the Daily Inter Lake, can serve hunters well.

“There’s new growth and higher nutrients in the grass in areas that have just burned,” he explained. Animals tend to seek out those grasses, so “you can look for [animals in] a specific area.”

At the same time, hunting in those areas demands some safety precautions.

“Recently burned areas generally have a lot of snags,” or dead standing trees, Curtis warns. Falling snags killed two Montana firefighters this past summer.

In addition, “there’s a lot of mop-up in those areas, so there’s a lot of people working in there,” he said, urging hunters to keep that in mind.

And some restrictions and closures remain in place. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks’ online Block Management Access Guide has information about areas that remain under controls.

But for hunters who heed these warnings, the rewards can be big. Borgreen said that “people have had success” in the season’s early weeks.

Print Article

Read More Outdoors

Drawing for 2018 deer, elk permits is next week

April 20, 2018 at 5:00 am | Western News Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will conduct the 2018 deer and elk permit drawing the week of April 23. Results will be available after the drawing is complete. The drawing was initially set to ...


Read More

Photo: Mother moose and calf in Troy

April 13, 2018 at 5:00 am | Western News ...


Read More

Youth hunting ethics workshop is April 14

April 10, 2018 at 5:00 am | Western News The Yaak Valley Forest Council hosts its third hunting ethics workshop for youth from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, at the old Sylvanite School at 11896 Yaak River Rd. in Yaak Valley. K...


Read More

News from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

April 06, 2018 at 5:00 am | Western News Watercraft Inspection Stations opening for the season The watercraft inspection station south of Dillon on Interstate 15 opens on March 31. The station will be open on weekends until mid-April then ...


Read More

Contact Us

(406) 293-4124
311 California Ave.
Libby, MT 59923

©2018 The Western News Terms of Use Privacy Policy