It’s hot, it’s dry and wildfire prevention must be the top priority for all early season hunters in Montana. “Governor Schweitzer’s Executive Order Declaring a Statewide Fire Emergency speaks to the dire conditions Montana is currently dealing with” said Fish Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim.
“While FWP has not closed or delayed any hunting seasons as early season hunters take to the field we are especially concerned about accidental fire starts caused when dry vegetation accumulates in a vehicle’s skid plate or catalytic converter,” Aasheim said.. “Hot temperatures have cured summer’s lush vegetation, increasing the likelihood of grass fires.”
While about 5,000 Montana archery hunters are already able to head afield with their 900 series hunting licenses, Montana’s archery-only hunting season for deer, elk, antelope, black bear, wolf and mountain lion begins Sept. 1. Most upland game birds seasons also open Sept. 1. The bighorn sheep archery season begins Sept. 5.
Hunters driving on roads with drying vegetation along the edges or growing down the middle of a two-track road can cause autumn fire starts and that keeps landowners and managers on edge this time of year.
“Hunters have an especially big responsibility to be fire conscious,” Aasheim said. “It is a matter of human safety and protecting private property and the resources of Montana.”
- Drive only on established roads.
- Avoid roads with tall vegetation in the middle track.
- Never park over dry grass and other vegetation.
- Carry a fire extinguisher—or water-filled weed sprayer—shovel, axe, and, a cell phone for communications in addition to other outdoor safety gear.
- Restrict camping activities to designated camping areas.
- Not build campfires.
- Smoke only inside buildings or vehicles.
Being able to respond is essential in the first few seconds of a fire start when it is small and easily extinguished.
“It is also important for hunters to know when to back off and who to call for help if you come upon a fire or accidentally cause one that is too big to easily put out,” Aasheim said. “Have a personal action plan when outdoors, for fire starts as well as for other types of accidents, severe injuries and other emergencies.”
Aasheim said FWP is asking hunters to be patient as some landowners including Block Management co-operators may be close their land until conditions improve.
Image courtesy Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks