SIOUX FALLS, SD -
All you have to do is take one step outside to see the extremely dry conditions. With hunting season already underway and more hunters hitting the fields soon, fire safety is a major concern.
Last year South Dakota had more water than anyone knew what to do with. But this year, it's completely different. The Game, Fish & Parks Department wants to make sure people realize the importance of being fire wise when in the field.
"Yeah, you should always be concerned about that," hunter David Maynard said.
Maynard generally hunts in the Newton Hills area near Canton. He says there have been a few fires there already this year so it’s something on his mind.
"Generally now as a hunter you have to have an escape plan. If you're in a tree stand, if you're bow hunting, I primarily bow hunt the Newton Hills area, thinking now I kinda have to have an escape plan in case something does happen," Maynard said.
The GF&P says it isn't something that only affects people hunting in one or two areas; this year it's statewide.
"It's different than normal conditions out there and to plan ahead or to plan their hunt according to the conditions, take some equipment along with them or be thinking about that," Regional GF&P Habitat Manager Steve Vanderbeek said.
Vanderbeek recommends hunters take a fire extinguisher, rake and shovel or extra water with them to put out a small fire if they have to. And simple precautions could make all the difference.
"Don't go driving through vegetation unless it’s absolutely necessary, that’s just taking a risk that you don't have to do. Parking your vehicle, park on the road or over short grass. Don't go parking your hot vehicle in tall grass. Those are a couple of real simple things to do and, you know, just be thinking about that," Vanderbeek said.
Vanderbeek says they even had a single engine air taker on hand last weekend for West River antelope opener just in case anything happened.
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