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Caution urged for hunters in Willamette National Forest

Bow season has opened for deer and elk hunting in the Willamette National Forest.

Hunters are advised to familiarize themselves with fire closures and follow all restrictions while in the field. Please check the status of an area before heading to the woods.

The Willamette National Forest currently has a campfire ban in effect in most areas due to high fire danger and several fire closures are in effect for public and firefighter safety.

Here are a few things to remember when hunting on public lands:

♦ Be aware of any fire restrictions in effect.

♦ Do not idle, drive or park on dry grass, as vehicle exhaust and undercarriage could potentially ignite the grass or brush.

♦ Do not flick cigarettes from vehicle windows because it can start a wildfire. Extinguish smoking materials in the vehicle ashtray.

♦ Check any chains used on trailers. Dragging metal on the roadbed can cause sparks that could ignite dry vegetation causing a wildfire.

♦ Hunters traveling through recently burned areas must remain alert and aware, and practice the “Four Steps for Safety” to improve your awareness of natural hazards: look up, look down, look around and look below.

Dead or dying trees that remain standing after a wildfire may be unstable, especially in high winds.

Also, hunters should watch for uneven or unstable ground full of holes from burned root systems. Check weather forecasts and assess the conditions before travel. Tell someone of a planned route, destination and expected return time.

All hunting is managed and regulated by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).