Deer season opens Saturday

With the opening of the six-week deer hunting season Saturday, Sept. 19, hunters across California are gearing up to head out in search of deer in many of the most popular hunting areas. Deer seasons are already underway for archery in some zones. The season ends Nov. 1.

Statewide, estimated deer population numbers are up slightly from 443,000 last year to 512,000 this year. Last year, about 22% of the state’s deer hunters bagged a deer.

Zone D-7 encompasses the Madera-Mariposa County line to the Kings River in Fresno County. The tag quota for Zone D-7 is 9,000.

According to California Department of Fish & Wildlife, scouting an area prior to hunting and getting off the beaten path can be keys to hunter success, especially during this time of historic drought. CDFW recommends that hunters keep current on possible public land closures in zones they plan to hunt.

“California is in the fourth year drought and large wildfires have caused some forest closures,” Itoga said. “We expect wildfires could cause additional closures of public hunting lands this year. On a positive note, some of the areas burned will provide high-quality deer browse as regeneration occurs in future years. Improved nutrition could lead to healthier deer populations and enhanced opportunities for deer hunters in future seasons.”

The sale of hunting licenses and tags provides approximately $25 million every year to CDFW to fund research and management of California's wildlife, including the enforcement of fish and wildlife laws, crucial habitat conservation, post-wildfire forest restoration, and wildlife migration and population studies.

“We encourage hunters to have fun and be safe while exploring California’s wild places,” said CDFW Deer Program Coordinator Stuart Itoga. “We appreciate the role hunters play in conservation and management of the state’s wildlife.”

Regional U.S. Forest Service and BLM offices provide helpful information regarding emergency closures of public hunting areas. Please visit CDFW’s website for zone-specific information,

Hunters check fire restrictions

With the southern Sierra wildfire season extending into late summer and early fall, hunters should be aware that fire restrictions are in place as the hunting seasons begin. This may affect hunters’ usual routine in their favorite hunting areas. Hunters should remember that:

*  Campfires are prohibited

*  Smoking is restricted to inside vehicles

*  Driving is limited to agency designated roads and trails only

Fire Prevention Team Leader Daniel Tune states, “Hunters should be alert to fire restrictions in areas where they plan to hunt this fall. Checking in advance with local state or federal land management agencies on the latest fire restrictions before leaving on a hunting trip can avoid unnecessary disruptions and concerns.”

Even with fire restrictions in place, there are many ways for hunters to enjoy their sport while still complying with the restrictions. In place of a campfire, hunters can stay warm with a propane heater and warm clothes.

Hunters should make sure that their vehicles and trailers are properly maintained.

“Each year, dragging safety chains from trailers have ignited wildfires in this part of the state,” said Tune.

A National Wildfire Prevention and Education Team is working on the Sierra National Forest to assist in developing short and long term wildfire prevention and education strategies.

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Details: (866) 632-9992.