Surf’s up for the fall false al­ba­core run

Outdoor Life - - NEWS -

in Idaho and the Bit­ter­root Moun­tains of Mon­tana for 26 years, has no doubt that over long pe­ri­ods of time, fires can help im­prove hunt­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. But that’s not al­ways the case.

SIZE MAT­TERS

▪ BIG FIRES with heavy fu­els can be so in­tense that they ster­il­ize the soil for decades. “When fires get so hot that rocks are ex­plod­ing, that’s bad,” says Hen­der­son.

Small fires of just 50 acres in size can cre­ate high-den­sity for­age and are more likely to cre­ate small pock­ets of cover. But good hunt­ing doesn’t have to come by way of small fires; much larger mo­saic pat­terns that cre­ate good edge cover and leave patches of stand­ing tim­ber for bed­ding sites are ideal.

Look for small fires of less than 500 acres, or fires that cre­ated odd­shaped patch­works of burned ar­eas. These smaller, low-in­ten­sity fires are more likely to pro­vide suc­cess­ful un­der­burn­ing, which leaves big trees stand­ing but cre­ates more for­age per acre by re­leas­ing nu­tri­ents into the soil with­out de­stroy­ing it.

LOOK AT THE BIG PIC­TURE

▪ THERE’S MORE to the im­pact of fires on mule deer than nu­tri­tion, though. New un­der­brush also pro­vides cover for fawns in spring and opens up ar­eas that make it eas­ier for hun­ters to see deer dur­ing fall. Ar­eas burned in re­cent years are a good place to look for that tro­phy buck, but Hen­der­son cau­tions hun­ters to avoid over­look­ing land fea­tures that might also pro­duce good bucks.

“I try not to over­an­a­lyze things, but deer need enough tim­ber left af­ter a fire to bed down in,” says Hen­der­son. “I also no­ticed that ar­eas choked with new growth or dense forests don’t pro­duce as well as the clas­sic Novem­ber

▲ An out-of­con­trol wild­fire in north­ern Idaho.

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