SALEM, Ore. - Oregon deer and elk archery seasons begin Aug. 24, and bowhunters will be facing high fire danger and some closures and access restrictions as the season opens, officials said Thursday.
Hunters are asked to use extreme caution and follow all fire restrictions while in the field.
The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) says the fire danger this season is unprecedented and record resources are tied up in firefighting.
So far for 2013, close to 80,000 acres of land protected by ODF have burned, which is eight times the 10-year average. More than 4,000 firefighters have been deployed at one time to fight fires.
Public land managers like the Umpqua National Forest, where the Whiskey Complex Fires are burning and access is restricted for a portion of the Tiller Ranger District, are aware of archery seasons. Land managers are continuously re-evaluating the fire situation and will restore access to restricted areas as soon as they are able.
At this time, many private forestland owners that normally allow hunters on their land have closed access due to the high fire danger.
"Landowners may have no other choice but to restrict access as a fire prevention strategy," explained Mike Dykzeul, Director, Forest Protection for the Oregon Forest Industries Council (OFIC).
OFIC keeps a list of their members' current public access status on the Oregon Department of Forestry website. Hunters should check this list (see "Corporate Closures in Effect") or contact the landowner before heading afield. This list is updated whenever there is a change so check back frequently.
Hunters and others planning trips into Oregon's wild areas should be prepared to be flexible with their plans if they encounter access restrictions. ODFW does not close hunting seasons due to fire danger. Hunters may need to hunt in a different area if their favorite hunting spot is the site of an active fire or if a private landowner has closed access due to high or extreme fire danger.
ODF, OFIC and ODFW also remind archery hunters to follow all fire restrictions. The ones below are some of the most common:
- No smoking
- No campfires except in approved campgrounds
- No off-road driving
- No exploding targets or tracer ammunition
Hunters should also be prepared to comply with fire-related restrictions by walking on roads that have been closed to vehicle traffic, carrying fire safety equipment such as shovels, axes and water into camp, and cooking on a gas stove not an open fire.
Finally, archery hunters are reminded of errors in the 2013 Oregon Big Game Regulations regarding archery season. On page 51, the "Traditional Archery Equipment Only" restriction should not be in the Columbia Basin, Biggs, Hood and Maupin Units—that restriction is for the Canyon Creek Area only. On page 79, the Chesnimnus hunt bag limit of "one bull elk" (hunt #258R) should be "one elk." These errors were corrected by the Fish and Wildlife Commission in June.