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Archery hunters beware of fire danger

08/31/16 -- The last full weekend in August means the start of archery season for deer and elk (the season opened Saturday, Aug. 27). And like every start to hunting season, bowhunters will be faced with high to extreme fire danger across Oregon.

“It’s already been a tough fire season,” says Oregon Department of Forestry’s Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “While we have been fortunate with minimal lightning-caused fires, our concern is with human-caused fires.”

Close to 90 percent of the nearly 600 fires started on ODF protected lands in 2016 are attributed to people. That compares to the 10-year average of about 65 percent. The trepidation with the hunting community is with campfires, smoking and off road vehicle use; all of which are either prohibited or restricted to certain areas. Hunters are encouraged to check fire restrictions before heading out by calling the local ODF, Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Forest Service office. They can also go to oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx to access an interactive fire restrictions map. (Note that only the Public Fire Restrictions apply to hunters.) Click on any area in the map to see a list of fire restrictions in areas protected by ODF. Click within public lands areas to find out the land manager and contact info.

Wildland fire professionals work hard to raise awareness as outdoor enthusiasts head to the forests to enjoy what nature has to offer. With hunting season looming, Fields says the message remains clear; “Be part of the solution, not the problem.”

Keep Oregon Green Association (KOG) has been partnering with state and federal wildland fire agencies for the last 75 years to increase awareness of Oregon’s wildfire risk and to educate the public in the prevention of human-caused wildfires.

“Besides the fact that we have had more than 50 illegal or unattended campfires lead to wildfires this summer, patrolling fire crews have extinguished nearly 100 campfires that were not completely put out before people left,” says KOG Executive Director Kristin Babbs. “It only takes one of these careless acts to lead to the destruction of our forests. Our plea to the hunters and public in general is to be vigilant and have fire prevention front and center in their minds when enjoying what our state has to offer.”

Follow fire restrictions, know before you go
As hunters prepare for the 2016 season, the Oregon Department of Forestry, ODFW and its partners ask that hunters take extra caution to keep fires from occurring. Know about restrictions before you go afield and follow them. Below are some of the most common restrictions:

  • Campfires are either prohibited or only allowed in approved campgrounds in many areas.
  • Smoking and off road driving is also prohibited in most areas, which includes motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.
  • Vehicles must have either a gallon of water or a fully charged and operational 2½-pound fire extinguisher and shovel (except when travelling on state highways or county roads).
  • ATVs must have a charged and operational 2½ pound fire extinguisher.

Private timberland: For a list of corporate closures on private timberland, visit ODF’s web site at oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx and see the Corporate Closures list. The chart also contains phone numbers to get the latest information from timberland owners. Some Travel Management Areasmay be affected by these closures. Contact the landowner for the latest access information.

Federal land: Check the U.S. Forest Service or BLM website or call them for closures and restrictions.

Archery regulations changes for 2016
Hunters should always check the What’s New section at the front of the annual Big Game Regulations to learn about changes from the previous year.

In 2016, there are bag limit changes for elk in several units. Bowhunters in the early general bow season can no longer take an antlerless elk in Saddle Mt, Wilson and Scappoose. For 2016, the bag limit is one bull in Scappoose and Wilson and one 3 pt+ bull only in Saddle Mt.

In the Minam and Desolation units, general season bow elk hunters have a bag limit of one elk this year (formerly bull only).

Finally, lighted arrow nocks are now allowed for bowhunters. Lighted nocks increase visibility of an arrow and make it easier to follow an arrow’s flight and retrieve it.

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