With hunting season underway, many hunters and campers across the state are headed to the wild outdoors. However, this greater movement of people into wildland areas increases the potential for human-caused wildfires to start.
People and their activities cause more than 90% of wildfires in Texas, increasing the need for hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to use caution outdoors and be mindful of activities that may cause a wildfire.
Winter weather is beginning to creep in across the state, having an impact on wildfire conditions of which hunters should be aware. Freezing temperatures in the West will begin to cure grasses, making wildfires easier to start. Although there is no elevated wildfire weather forecasted, the possibility of wildfire is always a concern. And it only takes one spark to start a wildfire.
“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) wants Texas hunters to have a safe and successful hunting season,” said Chris Schenck, TPWD Wildlife Division state fire program leader. “One part of that safe season is to practice good campfire safety. Smokey Bear’s message is still very important to Texas hunters.”
Texas A&M Forest Service and the TPWD encourage hunters to be cautious with campfires, as well as all activities that could spark a wildfire, including using certain ammunition.
Hunters should know their ammo. Jacketed bullets and high velocity ammunition should be avoided when fire danger is high, and target practice should occur over dirt or gravel.
Avoid accidently starting a wildfire while hunting
Other tips to help avoid accidently starting a wildfire while hunting and camping include:
- Avoid driving over and parking on dry grass because the heat from your vehicle can easily ignite it. 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.
- 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.
- When using a cooking fire or campfire, never leave it unattended. Always make sure the fire is completely out by drowning it, stirring it and feeling to ensure that it is out cold before you leave.
- If you are taking a trailer out on your adventures, make sure that the tires are properly inflated, chains will not contact the road, and that any loose metal will not continually hit anything else, all of which can cause sparks.