Huntcell 's Link
Some major fires in Arizona this week, including a big one in Tonto National Forest approaching 100,000 acres,
Last I heard this year was as good as a moisture year as last year in Arizona . Apparently not in some areas.
Well actually what I heard was the North rim was seeing good moisture and antler growth may surpass last years phenomenon of mega bucks on the landscape.
Not if they go the route that the FS has been in CO/CA where they close the burn down for 3-5 years...
If the Bush fire(GMU 22) jumps Tonto Creek and the strong SW winds continue, all bets are off. It’ll get into the Greenbacks, Sierra Ancha wilderness and Hellsgate with nothing to stop it. Highway 188 is the critical line! I’m almost certain they are back burning along 188 preparing for this. It’s gotta hold and not allow Tonto Creek to be tested.
“My perspective regarding the ongoing Mangum Fire based on working for the FS on the North Kaibab and nearly 50 years of hunting there – my views stem from my personal experience & observations and my forestry degree. My apologies in advance for what is a probably a long-winded posting.
First, some background to set the stage. Fire is essential to maintain healthy ponderosa pine forests in the Southwest. But such fires on the North Kaibab were infrequent during the early-to-mid 1900’s due to FS policy of quickly suppressing every fire. The Saddle Mountain Fire in 1964 was the only major wildfire until the late 70’s. The Moquitch, Demotte and LeFevre fires in the late 70’s-early 80’s were the among the first major fires in a long time - during the 80’s the FS began to change its fire management policies and started to recognize/use fire as a tool to restore the health of the North Kaibab’s forest ecosystem. Most large fires on the North Kaibab have tended to burn from the SW toward the NE because that is the general direction of prevailing winds during fire season.
I first hunted the North Kaibab in 1971 – deer were abundant on the high plateau in the pine/mixed conifer forest – large aspen stands were uncommon. Through the 70’s and 80’s I hunted the high points along the western side of the high plateau, such as Castle, Big Springs, Nail, Moquitch and Oak Points – big bucks were abundant throughout those areas. Late 80’s and early 90’s were a high point in terms of big bucks. The 1996 Bridger Knoll Fire was a large fire that burned from south to north along the west side from Big Saddle north to Pine Hollow and beyond. It created/restored a lot of transition zone and & winter range areas. I hunted the area burned by the 59,000 acre Warm Fire in 2006 (commonly referred to as the “Burn”) prior to that fire – bucks were there, but hard to find because of the thick forest. Since the “Burn” I’ve continued to hunt the points mentioned above, but each year I find fewer and fewer deer on those points, esp. during the archery hunt. My opinion is that the “Burn” attracts and holds many deer that used to be found elsewhere. Why? Because of the super abundant browse that grew (primarily aspen) after the “Burn”. Many deer are concentrated in and around the Burn during the archery season and the early rifle hunt – as are hunters! Hunters concentrate there because the fire removed the dense forest and made it possible to glass & spot bucks. But knowledgeable hunters are aware that by 3-4 days after opening of early rifle hunt bucks move out of the burn area and can be found at lower elevations toward the west.
Deer generally start moving toward winter range areas in response to extreme hunter pressure in the “Burn” and temps/weather in mid-to-late Oct. My understanding is that about 60% of deer on the high plateau migrate toward the west, 20% move east and 20% move north. In addition, deer in the Paunsagunt unit of Utah migrate south into northern AZ in late Oct – hunters in 12 BW and north end of 12 AW are hunting UT deer in late Oct and Nov.
The 55,000+ acre Magnum Fire will have an immediate effect of temporarily displacing deer from the burned areas. But deer will quickly begin to move into it when monsoon precipitation causes annual grasses to emerge in Aug and Sept. Probably won’t see the same flush of aspen regeneration because much of the north half of burn is at lower elevation where aspen in not prevalent. It will likely cause archery and early rifle hunters to be displaced out of burned-over areas. Water will continue to be a limiting factor. The burned area north and east of Hwy 89A will likely quickly see regrowth of oak, locust, cliffrose, sage and grasses. It will open up large areas that can be glassed.
Burned areas south of Warm Springs Canyon will be devoid of deer for a year or two, but deer will move through these areas as they move west off the high plateau as they migrate toward winter range areas. I expect in a few years there will be abundant aspen providing feed and deer will likely concentrate there during the summer and early fall – perhaps spreading out the super concentration of deer found in and around the “Burn” – and that will be good.
Bottom line – in spite of the Mangum Fire, any Kaibab tag is a good tag to have this year. Vehicle access will likely be restricted until mid-July or later due to extreme fire danger; hunters may not be able to do the same advance scouting due to area closures. Expect increased hunter concentrations in areas outside the Mangum Fire area. And in the long-term, expect greatly improved habitat conditions for deer and continued hunting opportunities for big bucks for one of the greatest mule deer area in the West. And I’ll be there with a tag in my hand!“
Been banking points to hunt the Kaibab for many years now, might need to cash in sooner rather than later.
As far as hunting in the burn. After the Dude fire they opened it up for cutting firewood that fall, went up there and with the monsoon rain the area was all green with new growth. And there were elk everywhere. So if there is a good monsoon and they will let you in I would be willing to bet that the deer will taking advantage of the new growth.
What's the % containment Fuzzy?! ;-)
Did you hear that from Cuomo?
scary stuff. I'm hoping for the best for you guys.
We had a fire get really close to my family while I was in AK last summer. My wife and daughters got out with nothing but the clothes on their back and the heroes with the CDF bombed the car with fire retardant as they drove out with fire and sparks landing all around them. It's amazing how fast it happens. They saw smoke and she called me and I told her to get out and they barely made it out. They bombed a line along my house and saved it - the line came 200 yards from our home. We're so thankful.
It's scary. We choose to live outside the cities and trade the craziness that's going on now for seasonal fires. White knuckles till November.