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Jim Niemiec's Blog

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Now is the time to shoot up your lead ammo!
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Ducks making timely arrivals

Hunting vs. wildfires
Extremely dry conditions exist all across the state and over into our neighboring states of Oregon and Nevada, with very high fire alerts posted at all BLM and Forest Service field offices. Western Outdoor News made a drive up along Hwy. 395 last week amid smoke from a number of wildfires that were still burning. With wind changes the sky went from beautiful blue to overcast with the smell of campfires in the air.

Deer hunters — and in a couple of weeks, upland game bird hunters — will be faced with the peak of wild fire season and there is a lot of dry brush, grass and beetle invested pine trees that are prime to provide fuel for wild fires.

HIGH SIERRA WILDFIRE — This photo shows what was left behind as a wildfire that burned up much of the old Alper’s Owens River Ranch and then headed off towards Bald Mountain in Long Valley. This fire was started in September of 2016 when a camper at Big Springs left a fire unattended on a hot and very windy day. Conditions currently are prime for more wildfires in our forests, which could affect access for hunters in the weeks and months ahead. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

Hunters should check on access to public lands before heading out on a big game or upland game bird hunt. As reported in the Modoc Record last week, fires throughout California have affected access to public lands in many locations that are heavily used during the fall general hunting seasons. With some of the X Zones already open and more to follow shortly, D Zones deer hunting opening up soon, along with the opening weekend of the upland game bird season come Oct. 20, there are going to be lots of hunters afield. Hunters should plan ahead and do some research on areas where they plan to hunt or scout to be sure those areas are free from fire restrictions.

Information on the status of wildfires and access is not available through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, nor does this department maintain an up to date status on road or campground closures, with the exception of CDFW managed properties, and websites are accessible for some information.

CalFire does maintain a website with current information on major fires across the state. Also, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management use InciWeb to provide information about active fires in California. National forests (i.e. Cleveland) and campgrounds offer additional upgrades regarding road and campground closures.

WON checked in with Jeremy Ross, manager of Ernie’s Tackle and Ski Shop in the June Lake Loop, 760-648-7756, to get an update on how deer hunting has been since the X 9a zone opened mid-September.

“Honestly Jim, I have not heard much about deer season to date. Through the archery season, there were very few reports of deer being killed in this popular X zone. Even though nighttime temperatures are dropping down into the freezing level, days are still warming up to the mid-seventies. I would think that most of the big bucks are still at higher elevations.”

Ross went on to add, “Most of the smoke from the big fires to the west, one named the Lion Fire, covered the June Lake Loop in thick smoke for over a month, but that fire has been put out and the sky is blue again. I would think that a few more nights of below-freezing temps will start moving deer down to more accessible lower elevations. There are no new fire restrictions in June Lake but current restrictions about camp fires are in place and being enforced. Right now there are a lot of folks coming up to see the fall colors and over at Boulder Lodge, 760-648-7533, hunters, anglers and nature lovers are staying at this lodge that overlooks June Lake.”

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