Think Safely While Hunting
The Texas A&M Forest Service is encouraging Texans to protect the lands and those they love this hunting season by being mindful of activities that may cause a wildfire.
From 2016 to 2020, Texas A&M Forest Service responded to 3,742 wildfires that burned nearly 1.5 million acres. During that time, 37% of wildfires occurred during the major hunting season months of September through January.
“Texas A&M Forest Service wants all hunters to be safe this upcoming season,” said Karen Stafford, the agency’s state wildfire prevention program leader. “We all have a role to play in protecting our state from wildfires, so remember to do your part and don’t let a wildfire start.”
While the state has not seen any hard freezing temperatures yet this year, drought-cured grasses cover much of the western plains, making wildfires easier to start.
“Drought- or freeze-cured grasses provide a very receptive medium for an accidental wildfire ignition, and dead grass will readily ignite under a wide range of weather conditions,” said Brad Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services Department head. “An additional factor that will contribute to the difficulty of extinguishing a fire burning in dead grass this year is that there is a lot of grass on the landscape due to above-normal rainfall during this year’s growing season. Wildfires burning in tall, thick stands of grass will burn hotter, spread faster and require more effort to extinguish.”
Reducing Human-Caused Fires
Nine out of 10 wildfires in Texas are human-caused, and 65% of wildfires that occur during hunting season are caused by debris burning and equipment use, including parking in dry grass and dragging trailer chains. Texas A&M Forest Service encourages hunters to be cautious with any activity that may cause a spark.
Some simple tips to help avoid accidentally starting a wildfire while hunting and camping this fall include:
- Avoid driving over and parking on dry grass – the heat from your vehicle can easily ignite the grass.
- Always check with local officials for burn bans or other outdoor burning restrictions. Each county in Texas sets and lifts their own burn bans. Make sure you know your county’s burn ban status and if it restricts open flames and other heat-causing activities such as using charcoal. View the latest burn ban map here: https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/burnbans/.
- When using a cooking fire or campfire, never leave it unattended, and always make sure it is completely out. Drown and stir the coals and get close enough to feel any heat to ensure the fire and embers are extinguished before you leave.
- If you are taking a trailer out on your adventures, make sure that the tires are properly inflated. Make sure chains do not contact the road and that any loose metal will not continually hit any other surface that may cause a spark.
- Always be ready to put out a fire should one start. Have a shovel and water with you in camp and have a fire extinguisher with you at all times.
For more information on preventing wildfires this hunting season, visit https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/HuntingFireSafety/.