A few years back, I talked about the 2009 Station Fire and how it affected hunting for me. For those who don't know or remember, the Station Fire burned 160, 477 acres, which equates to roughly 251 square miles. That was one of many wildfires that year. It took homes, people, and destroyed habitat. Due to the devastation and closures, I had to find new land to hunt. After finding some new hunting buddies and much scouting, we found a few areas to hunt. That changed with the major wildfires like the 2015 Lake Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest that burned 31,359 acres and the 2016 Sand Fire that has currently eaten over 38,000 acres. These fires have been intense and incredibly destructive. It's a tough pill to swallow seeing your hunting spots go up in smoke, but you have to deal with it.
While many of the areas opened back up from the Station Fire, there are still many key access points blocked. Access points that would allow hunters to utilize their tags. I said this four years ago and I'll repeat it now:
The deer population is going down and hunter numbers are increasing. Land being developed for human use is on the rise and finding public land to hunt is tougher than ever. How long before we are all having to travel out of state to hunt deer because we just can't catch a break in SoCal? Unfortunately, I see that in our near future. More and more hunters are going elsewhere to hunt because of the strict laws, lowered population of game to hunt and places to go.
I hunt out of state, from time to time, for many reasons. I have family and friends out of state, but that gets very expensive and can be a marriage hazard. We are in a drought and it's not safe to hunt in many areas. Many are going elsewhere due to the insane gun and ammunition laws passed by the California government. They are muddying up fact with opinion and it's a mudslide right into the crapper for legal firearm owners and hunters. We already face the strictest gun laws in the country, but they can't seem to see that taking away guns will help what is going on. That's a post or series of posts for another time and to be honest, my mind has become tired of the BS in our state government.
Back to the fire issues, Brett and I had found some excellent spots that held deer. We set trail cameras, scouted, and had found deer in the past couple years. I don't remember which one of us said it first, but we knew it was only a matter of time before the area we were hunting would succumb to wildfire. It was primed and we had little to no rain. Sure enough, when news of the Sand Fire hit the airwaves I knew it was only a matter if time before it rapidly spread. It didn't take long for the areas we had spent so much time scouting and researching to go up in smoke. Am I a bit dejected? Sure. I'm human and much time and effort went into finding these spots. Yet, I find myself deeply saddened for the people who lost homes, loved ones, and pets. I am saddened for the animals who couldn't make it out of the fire. I also find myself extremely grateful for the hard working firefighters busting their humps in this incredible heat and risking their lives to put a stop to the fires. Thank you to everyone out there fighting the fires! You guys rock!
So now we are back at square one...well, two. We know areas to go to and that we can scout, so we have that advantage. We will have to drive a bit further, hike much deeper, and camp out longer in more areas. It's tough to do for sure when you have a family, career, and people relying on you at home. It is a struggle many of us face, but we will persevere and we will hunt.