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Author Topic: High Country Mule Deer and fire  (Read 3207 times)

Offline TriggerMike

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High Country Mule Deer and fire
« on: July 13, 2017, 07:32:38 PM »
How many seasons does it take, generally, for Mule deer to return to a summer range area that was scorched? If anyone has a link to any type of study or if you have real life experience with an area, I'd appreciate it.

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Offline Pegasus

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Re: High Country Mule Deer and fire
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2017, 07:56:41 PM »
One year if the burn was in the summer and the fire moved quickly through the area. There will be some amazing tender tasty morsels for the deer the year after the fire. Unfortunately not much cover and perhaps not enough feed for all. If the deer herd was not damaged by the fire they will be there. If the feed is not enough for deer during the first year after some will move to better feeding grounds by the second year. They are creatures of habit until forced to adapt to a different environment.

Offline bobcat

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Re: High Country Mule Deer and fire
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2017, 08:15:53 PM »
Fires are generally beneficial for summer range. It's when the winter range burns that it can hurt the deer for many years until the winter range recovers. It takes quite a while for sagebrush and bitterbrush to grow back.

Offline Taco280AI

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Re: High Country Mule Deer and fire
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2017, 08:28:51 PM »
Out here we had a fire in the spring and deer in the burn in the summer. Lots near the edges

Offline TriggerMike

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Re: High Country Mule Deer and fire
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2017, 08:47:30 PM »
So if an area burned last summer at the timberline, then I shouldn't be too worried about it deterring deer for this summer/fall is what you're saying? The area I'm wondering about was the very perimeter of the burn as well, if that makes a difference.

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Offline Taco280AI

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Re: High Country Mule Deer and fire
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2017, 06:36:04 AM »
Just speaking for the area I hunt out here, there are lots of deer in last years burn. Lots of new vegetation for them to eat.

Offline DOUBLELUNG

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Re: High Country Mule Deer and fire
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2017, 01:10:23 PM »
So if an area burned last summer at the timberline, then I shouldn't be too worried about it deterring deer for this summer/fall is what you're saying? The area I'm wondering about was the very perimeter of the burn as well, if that makes a difference.

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Correct.  I've done quite a few post-fire vegetation evaluations, and summer range burns in migratory mule deer habitat are usually an enhancement.  I've seen deer come into burned areas before the smoulders are extinguished, for everything from minerals, to grass regrowth and sprouts from root-sprouting hardwoods.  As Bobcat noted, where deer are dependent on shrubs for winter survival on critical winter ranges, the number of deer that can be supported can be reduced for decades.  Other than stand-replacing, high intensity fires that sterilize the soil, there is generally some benefit for deer from most wildland fire.  I'd actually be pretty happy to have any of my summer range honey holes burn.
As long as we have the habitat, we can argue forever about who gets to kill what and when.  No habitat = no game.

Offline muleracks

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Re: High Country Mule Deer and fire
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2017, 04:01:20 PM »
The Entiat trails are a mess but you can see what burned, it recovery and areas that did not burn in this hikers report. (lots of photos)
http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8024791

Offline TriggerMike

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Re: High Country Mule Deer and fire
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2017, 06:16:07 PM »
Not concerned with the Entiat but I'm sure someone will appreciate that link.

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Offline muleracks

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Re: High Country Mule Deer and fire
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2017, 06:36:41 PM »
Should have mentioned that the photos show a 2 year recover from a high mountain burn.  Much of this was pretty severe; hotter than many summer range fire.

Offline TriggerMike

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Re: High Country Mule Deer and fire
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2017, 11:04:26 PM »
So if an area burned last summer at the timberline, then I shouldn't be too worried about it deterring deer for this summer/fall is what you're saying? The area I'm wondering about was the very perimeter of the burn as well, if that makes a difference.

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Correct.  I've done quite a few post-fire vegetation evaluations, and summer range burns in migratory mule deer habitat are usually an enhancement.  I've seen deer come into burned areas before the smoulders are extinguished, for everything from minerals, to grass regrowth and sprouts from root-sprouting hardwoods.  As Bobcat noted, where deer are dependent on shrubs for winter survival on critical winter ranges, the number of deer that can be supported can be reduced for decades.  Other than stand-replacing, high intensity fires that sterilize the soil, there is generally some benefit for deer from most wildland fire.  I'd actually be pretty happy to have any of my summer range honey holes burn.
This is music to my ears. I called the national forest ranger and was informed that with my particular area being the very edge of the burn, there was spots in the drainage that were torched, spots that were just lightly burnt and other spots that were untouched. That sounds like it may be a recipe for the perfect mixture. There's also a creek running through the bottom.

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