Muzzloader Hunters Be Careful

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The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Department of Forestry (DOF) are urging hunters to use extra caution while in the woods. Muzzleloading Deer Season started on Monday, November 5 east of the Blue Ridge (except on National Forest lands in Amherst, Bedford and Nelson counties) and will start west of the Blue Ridge (and on National Forest lands in Amherst, Bedford and Nelson counties) on November 12. General Firearms Deer Season is scheduled to start on Monday, November 19. Extremely dry weather conditions led Governor James S. Gilmore, III to issue an open air burning ban on October 26, which will remain in effect until existing weather conditions improve with significant rain or snow.

State Forester, James W. Garner has advised, "We are very concerned about the increasing severity of the dry conditions across the Commonwealth and we continue to work closely with the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Secretary of Natural Resources and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in monitoring the situation. At this time we have no recommendation for a forest closure, but with no rainfall in the immediate forecast, we have to take it one day at a time. Everyone going into our dry forests and woodlands should be aware of how much we need their help in keeping this situation in hand."

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Director William L. Woodfin, Jr., commented, "Many hunters are looking forward to the opening of the muzzleloading deer season west of the Blue Ridge on the 12th and the general firearms deer season on the 19th. We are pleased that they have exercised a lot of caution this past week during the muzzleloading season east of the Blue Ridge. We cannot emphasize enough that everyone has to be mindful of the dry conditions as they go afield. We must all do our part in keeping our woods safe."

VDGIF offers these tips for muzzleloading hunters in the woods this season.

  • Follow your shot path and stay in the area where you shot for five minutes. Check the 15-25 yard area in your shot path carefully for any smoldering embers before leaving.
  • The remote chance of starting a fire in dry leaves with a muzzleloading firearm comes from the unburned powder that is shot out the muzzle of the gun. If you use 'patch and ball' type ammunition, then the hot patch should be watched to make sure it does not ignite dry leaves.

The DOF offers these additional tips for those who venture outdoors during these dry conditions.

  • Carry a canteen of water just to be safe. It may be needed to douse a small fire.
  • Be careful when extinguishing cigarettes. Make sure they are dead out on bare ground.
  • Do not park on dry grass or dead leaves. Your vehicle's exhaust and catalytic converter can easily start a fire.
  • >Keep spark arresters on chain saws and on off-road vehicles.
  • Remember that with the burning ban, campfires are not permitted.

For updates the status of the burning ban go to the Department of Forestry web site at www.dof.state.va.us. For information about hunting go to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries web site at www.dgif.state.va.us.

VDGIF and DOF ask hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to be responsible and keep the woods fire safe.