Hunting an area after a forest fire?


May 31, 2012, 12:01 AM
I've been hearing on the news lately that they're expecting a very dry summer, and the possibility of forest fires are high. That got me thinking- what if my happy hunting grounds went up in flames? How might that affect big game hunting this season & the next few seasons? Overall I know it's good for the forest (and morel hunting!) but I've never deer / elk hunted post-burn before & thought maybe some of y'all have..

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May 31, 2012, 12:18 AM
I've killed all 3 of my elk in a burn area. We had a big fire several years ago, the castlerock fire. I think if it burned this year, it might not be too good. The year after will be awesome. tons of new growth that the elk just love. I hunted one burn area after some snow. When I went back there the next summer, I couldn't recognize it with all the growth. The burned areas are really trippy, especially when you're stalking elk.

ps, hiking in a burn area is very dirty.

May 31, 2012, 12:25 AM
In MT we almost exclusively hunt burn areas; there is new growth the next year, that game animals love, when on the move they are easy to spot, and the shelter that is left is easy to find and either pattern or push.

May 31, 2012, 08:03 AM
We had a devastating bushfire "down under" in the state of Victoria a couple of years ago, where nearly 200 people lost their lives. I guess most people laid off deer hunting in this area for about 12 months in respect for the locals, & because the previously wooded areas were left like lunar landscape.
After 12 months the regrowth started, the thick scrub was burnt out & in my opinion the deer numbers returned to pre bushfire levels. I suppose what we were left with was a better environment for deer hunting, but at a huge cost in human life. Hopefully our National Parks have learnt a lesson & will conduct regular controlled burns, even though there is strong opposition from "greenies".

May 31, 2012, 07:30 PM
If you get rains after the burns and the fresh shoots of grass are up before hunting season it makes a burn area the most primo game concentrator that is possible in nature.

I hunt burns all the time with great success.

May 31, 2012, 08:43 PM
I love em for the increased visibility and additional game. Critters love it because if the trees are still standing, they think they still have cover (referred to as screening cover) and because of the new, lush growth.

May 31, 2012, 11:40 PM
Hunting in this years burn is probably not a good idea, but immediately adjacent to it could be great.
For years I hunted elk next to Yellowstone Park, and the year it torched
(1988) was the best ever.

June 14, 2012, 02:40 AM
I've spent a number of years living and hunting in high mountain forests. And when we had a good fire, the next season would be quite productive in those spots because of all the new brose that grows. But the down side is turkey will not often return to that area if the big roost trees or oak trees (A corns)get destroyed.


Double Naught Spy
June 14, 2012, 09:51 AM
A lot of folks don't realize it and the good folks at the Forest Service and many national parks didn't either, but fires are an important part of the forest's cycle of life and in the long run the forests often depend on being burned as do the animals (for the forest to be burned).

A very mature forest can become fairly homogenous in terms of the plants and animals it supports, seriously reducing diversity, such that aside from the trees, it is not a very good environment in which to live.

June 14, 2012, 09:19 PM
Well, looks like all the RMNP elk might be spreading out into huntable areas next season then.. Big fire up that way. Scary part is how much beetle-killed forest there is still to burn here.

June 14, 2012, 09:33 PM
I live in south GA where the big forest burn near the FL state line last year. I talked to some of the hunters down there. they said it was the best thing that could have happen. no that people lost there homes but for hunting it helped them.

June 15, 2012, 12:22 AM
I just drove the Raton Pass where there was a major forest fire about a month ago. It looks like a golf course where with all the fresh green grass is coming up in the burn area!

Like a I said if you get some rain on the burn it's huntable almost immediately. Nothing refreshes the earth like a burn. But if the fuels were too thick and the burn too hot it can sterilize the ground. So it depends on the fire itself whether or not the grass is coming back that year.

June 15, 2012, 06:16 PM
Here in AZ most of the recent (0-2 years old) are off limits to hunting or any vehicular traffic. They don't want people in those areas due to erosion. We have had several huge mud slides in burn areas. After a couple years grass and other small vegetation gets a strong hold and starts to stabilize the area and they open it to hunting, but not vehicular traffic.

June 19, 2012, 09:28 PM
Way back in 67 I killed a moose near where the fire had been two years before. There was still a lot of charred wood around. The moose antlers have a rubbed in charcoal look on them. They are hanging on the wall on the stairway landing.

June 21, 2012, 11:22 AM
That is how the Blackfoot Indians got their name..............

June 24, 2012, 10:23 AM
It's been my experience that if you want to hunt a burn the same year of the fire, you will get best results just outside the actual burn. That is where the critters fled to. NOt a lot left to eat or cover in.

The following few years could very well be a bountiful harvest, indeed. The burn will be rich in new growth of grass, forbs, brush and bloom, all the things many of our favorite prey find irresistable. Find feed not too far from cover.

I got a nice 4x4 mule deer in SE Idaho in '09, just across the river 6 weeks after a big burn.

July 3, 2012, 06:50 AM
I've had good luck hunting in the Black Hills of western South Dakota. Hunting the edges of an older burn for mulies is productive.


July 3, 2012, 09:58 AM
Well folks, there will be no shortage of burn areas in CO this year. We're all on water restriction too, gonna be a long summer. I'm thinking hunting water sources this fall could be productive.

November 18, 2012, 03:48 PM
Well, I'm back from my hunt. The fire was really nowhere near as bad as I had suspected. All the brush & oak was gone, the dead trees were gone or almost, and the live trees were singed at the bottom but completely healthy on up. Since the ground cover was all gone spotting game (not that there was much) was easier. All in all I'd say it was a very good thing for the forest. I look forward to it greening back up next year. :)

November 18, 2012, 07:50 PM
As soon as new grass/weeds start to sprout after a controlled burn, I see turkeys in the area plucking the greenery and eating the burnt bugs. Deer usually follow within a week after the turkeys.

November 18, 2012, 08:51 PM
Funny you mention that. We've never seen turkeys at this spot. This year we saw hens & toms on the move in the mornings. I wonder if the fire brought them in? We actually saw a lot of game throughout the week, just not the game we were after!

November 18, 2012, 10:27 PM
Back in the 80s where I grew up in East Texas they did a controlled burn in the Sam Houston National Forest to kill off pine trees infested with Pine Beetles. An old timer at my Barber Shop told me to hunt the burn areas, so I did :).

It looked like a golf course in between the charred tall trees and all of the underbrush was cleaned out and gone. Also when talking about a pine forest the falling pine needles make the soil on the forest floor very acidic. When a burn occurs, the ash from the burn neutralizes the soil, which helps browse and forage grow like crazy.

Just my .02,

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