As though it’s not hot enough already …

You’d have thought from the thermometer readings that summer had already arrived. But it wasn’t officially summer yet. Today’s the first day of summer. I hope the spring weather wasn’t any indication of what’s to come.

If summer follows spring’s lead, we’re in for a hot one. It’s been pretty dry in much of the state, too. That’s bad news for farmers and ranchers, for sure, but it’s also not good for hunters.

Nursing big game animals need lots of good, green forage to keep their fawns and calves fed. Unfortunately, a lot of those spring rainstorms that bring the moisture to feed those mommas also comes with cold temperatures. We lose a lot of young big game animals in wet springs.

But we lose a lot in hot, dry weather, too. Hopefully this spring’s weather split the difference, and we’ll have a good crop of new antelope, deer, elk and moose. The drought we’re facing is cause for concern, though. Even though much of the state looks pretty green right now, if the temperatures continue to stay high and not a lot of rain comes to the rescue, the situation’s going to look pretty grim.

We’ve already seen the negative effects of the drought. We’ve had scores of wildfires break out across the state, most triggered by lightning. The drier it gets, the higher the risk will become for more fires. Last year’s fires were bad, but this year could bring even worse blazes to the high country.

With any luck, we’ll get a few more big rainstorms before the dry season really takes hold. Either way, though, be sure to stay safe if you go camping or scouting this summer. Follow the fire regulations, and if campfires are allowed, watch them closely. Make sure they’re completely out before you turn in for the night or break camp. When it’s as dry out there as it already is, it doesn’t take much to turn a forest into an ashtray.

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