Hunters: Drive and Park Smart to Prevent Fires

montana graws fireMore than 70 wildfires are burning in 8 Western states, dozens of them in hot and dry Montana, where 2017 archery elk and deer seasons are opening up.

Residents and the many out-of-staters that hunt Big Sky are wondering how the dry conditions and fire danger might affect their hunting. As of today, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is not recommending the closure of any seasons. “(But) if a private landowner or an agency such as the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management makes the decision to restrict or postpone hunting or other activity on their property, that is a decision we respect and accept,” said FWP Director Martha Williams.

Due to fire danger, currently more than 80 block management areas (BMAs) are restricted or closed at the request of landowners. Check the FWP website for more information.

As hunters hit the Montana prairies and woods this week, Director Williams says, “It is critical to be careful, and be safe. Hunters have to take personal responsibility to prevent wildfires and keep themselves and the property and lives of others safe.”

One of the biggest concerns in Western states are grass fires caused by trucks. Every fall as hunters drive off-road, vehicles’ hot exhaust pipes ignite tall, dry grass in roadbeds and parking areas, sparking grass fires that if not contained can spread into wildfires.

Montana FWP asks hunters to follow these fire safety precautions; it is good advice regardless of where you hunt:

Park your vehicle on bare ground or ground completely void of vegetation.
Drive only on paved and well graveled roads.
Camp only in designated camping areas.
Smoke only inside buildings or vehicles.
Check on any fire restrictions in the area where you are hunting.

Fire experts from Oregon add that hunters should plan ahead. Have basic fire-fighting equipment in your truck and close at hand–at least 5 gallons of water, a fire extinguisher and a shovel. Burlap sacks are useful; you can wet them down with water and use the wet sacks to beat down flames. Always have way to call for help, such as a cell phone or citizen’s band radio in areas where there’s no cell service.

How Deer React to Extreme Hunting Pressure

???????????????????????????????Researchers at the University of Georgia put GPS collars on 13 does and monitored them during a period of extremely heavy hunting pressure with deer dogs.

Every doe hung out and hid in her core area until the dogs got too close and the heat too intense. The does then ran a mile or so out of their familiar area and found thickets where they could shelter in place.

Deer are crepuscular, wired to move at dawn and dusk every day. Once the sun started setting and the dogs and pressure ceased for the day, every doe got up and made its way back to its core area. Every doe was back home within 12 hours.

What it means to you: Bucks are crepuscular too, so you can surmise they do the same thing when subjected to pressure. They’ll try to hide and wait the pressure out, but when things get too intense they’ll run a mile or so and hide in a hole where there’s no pressure, no human intrusion. But eventually, after sundown, they’ll start making their way back home.

How to Deal with a Hunting Egomaniac

egomanicMike: My hunting buddy is a pretty good guy and a great hunter; he’s into conservation and getting kids involved and all that. But he’s obsessed with killing more deer and bigger deer than anyone else. Every year he gets hung up on being the number one deer killer in our parts. Is there anything you would suggest for me to do? I haven’t known him all that long, and he’s shown me some good hunting spots. But damn, sometimes I can’t stand to be around him and his ego.

BTW, I don’t care about numbers. I simply want to put some doe meat in the freezer and wait for a buck that is mature, like I have seen you do many times on TV. Thanks (name withheld so as not to PO my buddy).

Anonymous: I’ve been in all kinds of deer camps/clubs/lodges across America for more than 30 years and have run across a good many egomaniacs like you describe. While a few of them have turned out to be decent guys like you say your buddy is, most have been a——- with a capital A that I have no time or use for. Our lives and hunting time are too short; I want to hang and hunt with people I like and respect.

I’ve tried all sorts of approaches with egomaniacs–complete avoidance…cold shoulder when I’m in the same room listening to them brag about how great a hunter they are…politely confronting them and saying man, it doesn’t matter how many deer you kill or if yours is bigger than mine… No matter, I usually still never like these guys and never have a good time around them, so I avoid them.

Your case is a different though because you like this fellow some, and he has found you some good hunting spots. I suggest you bite your tongue and put up with his BS as best as you can for now. When he gets on your nerves too much, get up and leave–go hunting, go home, whatever. The next time you see him things ought to be better.

I don’t know how old this fellow is, but at some point in every hunter’s life the hunting becomes more important than the killing, though it takes longer for some people to get there. Hopefully soon your friend will start to realize that it’s not all about rack score and numbers of deer whacked and stacked, far from it. By then you’ll know him better and you might be able to talk this thing out man to man without blowing up your friendship.

Good luck, dealing with rude and arrogant people is never fun and never easy.

Photo: Winnipeg City Monster Buck!

manotoba city giant

Mike emailed me this image, pulled from a computer screen, of a monster whitetail that is living within the city limits of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. Wow!

Archery season in Manitoba opens in 2 days, August 30. I wonder how many guys who hunt on property that borders the city limit side where this giant has been spotted hope he slips across the boundary and onto private land where they hunt? Will be interesting to see is this buck is shot in the coming weeks, I’ll keep an eye out for it.

iowa city bucks 1.JPG 2009

We’ve posted some giants that live in cities and suburbs over the years, like the above from Urbandale, Iowa.

soccer field VA buck

And this buck was spotted living and feeding in a soccer field in northern Virginia.

sd sioux falls buck 2008

The most famous of all urban creatures was the Sioux City Falls South Dakota buck,  which we tracked for 8 years here on BIG DEER with the help of blogger and local hunter Kelly. In this 2015 post Kelly wrote: The East Sioux Falls Buck is still around! Cannot believe he is still going, although his horns are on the way down. Figure he is at least 12 and maybe as old as 14! Amazing.

I lost track of this magnificent buck the last 2 years; I hope Kelly reads this and gives us an update.

In some suburbs and even inside some city limits in the U.S. and Canada it is legal to archery hunt for deer and maybe get a crack at a giant like one of these. Check your city/state’s website for urban opportunities. Here are some tips for bowhunting city bucks.

Trail-Cam Photo Friday

Hard to believe summer is about gone. You will be hunting in a matter of weeks, to further fire you up…

cam mike twitter freak buck

Mike posted this freak on Twitter; won’t score squat, but the coolest buck I’ve seen so far this year.

cam conn 1 2017

Conn sent this beauty.

mi cam scott 2017

From longtime blogger Scott: “…real nice buck that we have on camera on our property. Hope he sticks around, killer brows…”

md danny bucks

Longtime blogger Danny has been watching 30 bucks this summer, and he has thousands of cam photos. He reports, “A couple of the bachelor groups have combined.  Sunday evening there was a group of 18 bucks together.  As you can see, a couple of them were pushing a bit. Which I thought was strange since they are still in velvet. But I guess when there is that much testosterone in one spot it’s bound to happen.”

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KS 2017 big buck

The 3 photos above this caption are from an area in Kansas where I’ll be hunting and filming in early December. Their patterns will certainly have changed by then; I hope one of the bucks is still alive and around, especially the bottom one from my wireless Spartan, that’s a big deer.

drop tine 2017

We got this one picture of Drop Tine at a mineral lick in late July; we have 6 cameras running within 600 acres and have not gotten another pic of him. I’d be willing to bet we don’t get another one, amazing how some bucks are just not photogenic. They seem to have a 6th sense for avoiding cameras!

va cam 2017 2 shooters

Two more big deer that have turned up on my friend’s Virginia farm; we’ve identified at least 6 shooters, and 3 bucks that will go 150-plus. The buck on the bottom is the latest one to run the gap, one of the best places to hang a trail camera.

Good luck!