Burns!

Ryan Avery

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The forest service burned one of my Favorite elk spots last week. My question is will the elk be in there eating this September? I walk through it this weekend and it was a little disheartening! I will post some pics tonight.
 

Swede

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How hot was the burn? If there is still good cover and feed, the elk should be there. Often some excellent forage grass comes back within weeks if you get some decent Spring rains. If the burn was too hot and it takes a year for the grasses and new growth to come back, I would have a good backup area ready. In the near future (1+ years) your area should come back better than ever assuming the fire stayed in prescription.
 

Matt Cashell

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Swede has it. Elk love burns, as long as there is some forage in there. If the country was nuked they will be looking elsewhere, but once the forage comes back, they will be in there.

I love hunting the big burns here in Western MT.
 

JG358

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They'll be around. We were doing erosion control a couple days after the Haymen fire..... Elk were back in the area rolling in the ash before the ground even cooled off.
 

Ridge Ghost

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Swede is right on. If it didn't burn super hot, there should be plenty of feed in your spot by September. It should become an elk magnet before long.
 

trophyhill

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thanks for the post Ryan. as we speak, the unit i drew in NM is ablaze and over 100,000 acres burned up as of this morning! great topic!
 

dustyboots

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trophyhill I'm in the same boat as you and the exact area I planned on hunting has already been burned over
 

HellsCanyon

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I'm guessing it was a controlled burn because of your indication that the USFS is burning it (not a wildfire). If that is the case 99% of the time its to reduce fine fuels and dead undergrowth and won't cook the nutrients/minerals in the top soil horizon and regrowth will occur very soon. Should be good to go this fall but as another said it never hurts to have a backup plan! Those elk will go somewhere if they are not there...

Mike
 

Swede

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These uncontrolled wild fires are totally different than what Ryan asked about. In the long run the deer and elk can benefit from the fire effects, but I am gled I have no plans to hunt in the burn area anytime soon. I would guess the fire and all of the people, equipment, and activity in the area, has pushed the elk into new territory. Hopefully those of you who have tags to hunt where the fire is, can scout and find where the elk have gone to.
 

HellsCanyon

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Swede is spot on. A lot of times the USFS will be in and out on a controlled burn in a day or three. Hardly enough to push some animals out of there for the season...

Mike
 

Matt Cashell

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Western MT burned big time in 2000 and 2001, sometimes down to mineral soil. That fall the elk hunting was VERY good in the burns that burned a little less hot. The following 4-5 years in those burns were the best elk hunting ... ever. Hunting burns is very glassing friendly.
 

Swede

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With fire recovery, much depends on the intensity of the burn and how clean it is. Some fires leave the land looking like a moonscape when they are finished, while others burn so little you have to look closely the next year to find evidence of where they burned. What I am hearing about the Gila burn suggests it is intense and will not be controlled for weeks. After it is controlled it will still be patrolled until there is no further risk of the fire coming back to life. With a "dirty burn", one where the fire misses much burnable material, I would expect the animals could move back within a few weeks of the fire. While working for the Forest Service, I have seen deer and elk within active burn areas. I have seen them bedded in ashes with smoke still popping up at numerous places nearby shortly after the crews left. Dad shot as nice a buck as I remember him ever killing in an area he and a logging crew were burning. That said I would anticipate an intense burn with much human activity to displace the elk. The burn, the amount and duration of activity will be factors affecting elk activity there. It sure would be easy and cheap to call a few weeks before your season and ask the Forest Service and the NM Department of Fish and Wildlife what the hunting conditions will be like. Keep us posted on what you find out.
 
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