COLLEGE STATION - With much of Texas still hot and dry and wildfires continuing to ignite across the state, dove hunters should be especially careful when heading out this week for the season opener.
Fire activity remains steady, and wildfires can easily ignite. All it takes is one spark from an unattended campfire, lit cigarette or even the muzzle of a gun.
"As responsible stewards of the land, hunters need to take wildfire conditions into consideration - especially when they're elevated as they are now," said Justice Jones, coordinator for the Wildland Urban Interface and Fire Prevention programs. "In doing so, they're protecting the resources and wildlife they strive to conserve."
Though dove season kicks off Thursday, hunters aren't the only people who should take precautions. All outdoorsmen should keep fire safety in mind for the next several weeks while conditions - hot temperatures and dry vegetation - remain ripe for wildfires.
If you're heading outside, keep in mind the following wildfire safety tips:
Obey outdoor burning bans. Don't build a fire during dry or windy conditions. If conditions are right and there is no burn ban in place, you may build a campfire. But keep the fire small and never leave it unattended. Make sure the fire is extinguished and cold to the touch before you leave it. Avoid burning feed bags and other materials that can create flying embers. Keep water handy when welding on stands or working around hunting camps. Drive only on designated trails. Don't park or idle vehicles in dry grass, which can be ignited by contact with a hot muffler. When shooting close to the ground, be sure there is no dry grass or tinder in front of your muzzle. Though rare, it's not impossible for a shot to ignite nearby tinder. Use caution with cigarettes and matches. Use spark arresters on all power equipment.