Brad and I had prepared to implement a 35 acre Rx fire yesterday. We had fire breaks in place, plenty of water to keep us hydrated, etc. With radios charged and drip torches in hand we hiked up the mountain. The humidity dropped to 30% by noon and the winds were in a favorable direction at 3-7 miles and hour.
Brad began walking with his drip torch as I watched to see how the fire would react. I watched and watched. I’ve seen more smoke from a barbeque grill! Even though the drought conditions are severe at The Proving Grounds and conditions were favorable for an Rx fire, we couldn’t get the area to burn. The reason was there wasn’t enough flammable fuel. We had burned this same area early this year in the spring. It had responded with an abundance of forbs, native grasses, and some unwanted hardwood saplings. Our management goal for this area is to serve as a sanctuary and provide native forage. The fire this spring consumed most of the fine fuels and created a healthy environment for the vegetation that grew after the fire. The number of deer beds, amount of scat, and the deer we observed while trying to ignite the area all confirmed the value of this area to wildlife. The plants were healthy and fire resistant.
We learned another lesson yesterday. The price of the lesson was some manpower and time that could have been spent on another project. However, now I’ll be a better judge on the amount of fuel necessary to carry a fire. Nothing beats the education gained by experience. I’m a better deer and habitat manager because of the experience I gained yesterday. I hope you have the opportunity to gain some experience related to managing and hunting deer this week.
Growing Deer together,