Leko’s Conservation Corner – Wildfire Safety While Hunting & Some FAQ’s

(Last Updated On: November 4, 2017)

Regular Column by Ministry of Environment Conservation officer Lindsey Leko

I recently had a chance to get out and talk to some farmers who were out on their combines trying to get this year’s crop off.

Currently, there are some draw mule deer and elk seasons open, and on September 15, the upland bird season opened for sharp-tailed grouse and partridge. The start of September saw the diehard waterfowl hunters hit the land to harvest ducks and geese. Don’t be surprised to see more land posted this fall restricting access until we get some significant moisture.

One constant worry landowners have is the risk of fires from people accessing their land to hunt. The extreme dry conditions found in many areas of the province have raised this concern. The province had a fire ban for all areas of Saskatchewan south of the Churchill River up until just recently. Many RMs had fire bans on, and while we got some moisture, the dry conditions are still a concern.

While some hunters feel that the only cause of fires is a cigarette carelessly thrown out the window, this is not true. Fires can be started by simply a hot muffler in tall grass. This also applies to mufflers on ATVs.

Metal from your vehicle’s undercarriage scraping a hard rock on a trail can create sparks that can start a fire.

Muzzle flashes from firearms or the use of tannerite may also be enough to start a fire in the current conditions.

Hunters are reminded to take extra precautions.

• Carry a fire extinguisher, shovel or other tools in your vehicle.
• Walk whenever possible.
• Avoid unnecessary vehicle idling.
• Mufflers and other parts can get hot enough to start a fire.
• Keep your vehicle out of tall grass – stick to roads and trails.
• When setting up your camp, pick an area free of tall grass.

Please respect the landowner’s wishes with access to land by always asking permission before entering any private lands whether they are posted or not. Remember that we are just hunting there, while it is their livelihood. Strong winds can move a fire a great distance and create a threat to property, buildings, equipment and livestock.

I have received a number of questions from readers about hunting season.

Q: If I am bear hunting with a bow, can I carry another firearm to protect myself?

The carrying of a firearm for personal protection is a complex issue. The recent bear attack on a bow hunter in central Saskatchewan has really got people thinking about safety issues. Bear attacks are very rare but they do occur and we are all relieved that the hunter is recovering from his injuries.

The ministry has published a bear safety pamphlet which details techniques to avoid encounters. Individuals can carry bear spray as a deterrent. Carrying a rifle or shotgun for purposes of self-defense is not recommended. Handguns are a restricted weapon and are not allowed to be carried for protection while hunting.

In terms of someone bear hunting, it is lawful for a person hunting bears with a bow to carry a shotgun as well. Bear seasons are a combined firearm season, so archery, crossbow, muzzleloader, shotguns and rifles are all lawful. Remember, that if an archer wishes to carry a rifle as well as a bow, then he or she is required to wear lawful hunting colors. Camouflage clothing can be worn by persons carrying a bow, crossbow, muzzleloader or shotgun.

In an archery only season such as white-tailed deer, moose or elk, hunters can only carry archery equipment. If archery hunters are interested in hunting game birds as well the season opened on September 15 and hunters with an upland game bird licence could carry a shotgun loaded with bird shot with them.

Q: Why can’t you hunt Canada Geese in the afternoon?

The thought is that all day hunting of Canada Geese and white front geese will create added pressure and stress to the populations making them leave the area quicker than normal. By not hunting them in the afternoon it will hopefully keep the geese in an area longer for everyone to be able to harvest equally. Once October 15 arrives, all day dark geese hunting is allowed.

Q: Why do geese fly in a V formation?

The best answer that I have for this is that it conserves energy. For racing fans, ducks flying in a V formation is a form of drafting. Each bird in the V will fly slightly higher than the bird in front of him. Each goose will take a turn at the tip of the V where the wind resistance is the greatest. Once tired, the goose will slip back and another will take its place at the front of the V.

I am sure that there are other reasons for it as well, but physics was a class that I opted out of taking.

Q: Can I carry a firearm in the vehicle next to me, or does it have to be encased?

This question is a good one and has several parts to it. If you are traveling through a road corridor game preserve, wildlife refuge, game preserve or through a regional park, provincial park or recreation site, your firearm has to be unloaded, encased or in the trunk, so it is not readily accessible.

A number of provincial parks and recreation sites are open to hunting and, in these parks, a person with a valid licence for the park in question is allowed to hunt and may carry an uncased firearm in a passenger vehicle. However, even in provincial parks and recreation sites which are open to hunting, there may be posted no hunting areas surrounding the core, developed areas of the park.

Other than in these special areas, it is legal to have a firearm right next to you as long as it is unloaded –provided you are properly licensed for the applicable hunting season.

Many people drive around during the hunting season with their unloaded rifle or shotgun right next to them on the seat.

Q: My son and I got drawn for moose. If we only get one animal, how can we split the meat and take it home?

Many hunters share unprocessed meat from an elk or moose. There used to be a policy where a big game transportation permit would be issued, but this is NOT the case anymore. The successful hunter will have his licence, which will give him legal authority to possess the meat.

The other individual will need to have documentation with the successful hunter’s name, licence number, date of harvest and signature. This can be shown to any officer wishing to see it.

Well, that should do it again for another column. Until then…keep your rod tip up

Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko has spent more than 25 years as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan. For many years, Officer Leko contributed a column to local papers on a variety of issues related to hunting, fishing, and other resource-related issues. If you have questions, please contact lindsey.leko@gov.sk.ca.

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