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Forum Index > Medium and large game hunting > Wildfire effect on deer

Wildfire effect on deer

14 Sep 2020
@ 03:15 am (GMT)

Scott Struif

This probably belongs in “Off-Toplc/need to vent.” Deer season here in Oregon started yesterday. However, a huge wildfire swept down a 40-mile stretch of the McKenzie River valley last week, resulting in closure of the National Forest Service lands, where I hunt, through September 30. The season runs through November 6, so all is not lost. The landscape is heavy timber, with thick, impenetrable undergrowth, and spotty, postage-stamp clearings. The fire is certain to be a boon for future generations of deer and elk, as new growth will provide much needed browse/forage for them. The fire, one of several in western Oregon - all historically unprecedented in size - covers 160K acres, with a 200-mile perimeter. A weather anomaly, consisting of hot, dry east-to-west winds caused it. I understand that food-availability is the main driver of deer behavior. I doubt the fire burned all the browse. My question is, would you hunt within the perimeter of the fire, or assume the deer have been driven out of their usual haunts to the fire’s perimeter?

Replies

14 Sep 2020
@ 03:30 am (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Wildfire effect on deer
I use GaiaGPS mapping software, which has and overlay showing wildfire history. This current fire dwarfs all previous fires many times over.
15 Sep 2020
@ 08:46 am (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: Wildfire effect on deer
I think it would depend on the severity of the fire, and the fuel it was burning. We've experienced fires that covered immense tracts of land and have left unburned "oasis" of feed and cover; fires that have jumped from ridge to ridge and left the valley untouched; fires so intense that all fuel was consumed and the soil was fused from the heat. Poplar stands are notorious fire breaks. Conifers are perfect fuel. Forests that have been subjected to fire suppression for too long, explode into firestorms. Nature will not kill everything. Animals and feed will survive to further the species. It might be prudent to not hunt in the fire zone, for your safety, as well. Firefighters have been known to step into holes that are still hot enough to cook your leg. That can't be fun. Plus, you might want to give nature a chance to recover, as it is usually way better when things go back to normal.
15 Sep 2020
@ 12:00 pm (GMT)

Scott Struif

Re: Wildfire effect on deer
Thanks, Paul. I hadn’t thought about the ash pit hazard. I read that fire doesn’t really affect deer much, that they stick to or return to their territories. But that was in a paper written by a biologist, not a hunter. It didn’t say exactly how long after the fire the study was done. There are areas around the perimeter I can hunt, but I’m considering exploring the interior. As you said, there are bound to be unscathed oases. Plus visibility will certainly be improved.
16 Sep 2020
@ 08:08 am (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: Wildfire effect on deer
Thanks, Scott. I knew there was a name for that hole. Yeah, visibility will be real good for two or three years. Being this late in the season, regrowth may start but it may not get very far. More of a headstart for spring? And I've always found that edge habitat produced the most action. Have fun and let us know what you find.
 

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