Bow season opens as fire season flames on

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - As summer comes to a close, another season is on the horizon.

Bow season.

Hunters are grabbing their gear and preparing their packs for the start of bow hunting season for deer and elk.

But as hunters get ready to head into the Oregon wild, officials are urging them to keep wildfire safety in their sights.

Tom Soward, wildland fire supervisor for the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the lack of rainfall poses a big wildfire threat.

"It's really dry, extremely dry," says Soward. "We haven't had any real rain since I believe June, and that's just not typical for this area so it's drier than most years."

Despite a recent cooling trend, Soward said the conditions are still prime for wildfires to start - and spread.

"It's actually really surprising," he said. "People might think that it may be a little more moist now because of the cloud cover that we've had and the lightning storms but it's actually really dry still."

With all of the dry vegetation, expert bow hunter Chris Phillips at The Bow Rack in Springfield said hunters need to head into the woods prepared.

"You need to know where the fires are at now," Phillips said. "Also, if you're in an area where you can or can't make a fire, so that you're not starting one yourself."

Soward agrees with Phillips, and added that campfires are only allowed in designated areas.

A few other precautions: drivers are asked to stay on roads and to carry water in case vehicles spark a blaze. A shovel can help fling dirt on a fire if one gets going.

Future bow hunter Dylan Mitchell, 8, has a piece of advice he said is a no-brainer: Not smoking in the forest.

Soward agreed, asking hunters to simply use common sense to avoid sparking a blaze.

Having hunters head out to public lands in droves can actually be a good thing, Soward added. He said they may come across a fire that authorities didn't know about.

If you spot a wildfire, you're asked to call (541) 935-2283.