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

New FWP fisheries manager promoted from Libby

July 17, 2018 at 5:00 am | Western News Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks recently announced Mike Hensler as the new regional fisheries manager for Region 1 in northwest Montana. Hensler, who had managed operations at the agency’s Libby o...

Comments

Read More

Hunter ed starts Aug. 1 at county shooting complex

July 17, 2018 at 5:00 am | Western News Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is holding a hunter education classroom course at the Lincoln County Shooting Complex beginning Aug. 1. Twenty-three of 30 seats remained open Sunday. Anyone born af...

Comments

Read More

Photo: Ducks in a row

July 17, 2018 at 5:00 am | Western News ...

Comments

Read More

Stampede keeps later start for 2018 rodeo

July 13, 2018 at 5:00 am | Western News A change in last year’s annual Kootenai River Stampede PRCA rodeo to deal with smoke from wildfires has led to a permanent change in the nightly schedule for the July 27 and 28 event at J. Neils Rode...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

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

©2018 The Western News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X