Richmond, Virginia – The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) are urging hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to use extra caution while in the woods. Extremely dry weather conditions have prompted Gov. Tim Kaine to issue a statewide open air burning ban beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, October 19. The ban will remain in effect until conditions improve with significant rain and/or snow.

The Early Archery Deer Season is underway statewide and the Muzzleloader Deer Season and General Firearms Deer Season will be opening in November. The agencies offer the following tips to hunters, campers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts:

◦ Remember, with the burning ban, campfires and other open flames are not permitted.

◦ It is recommended that you not smoke in the woods, but if you do, be careful when lighting and extinguishing cigarettes. Never throw a cigarette butt from your vehicle window or leave burnt cigarettes behind.

◦ Do not park on dry grass or leaves. Your vehicle’s exhaust and catalytic converter can easily start a fire.

◦ Keep spark arresters on chain saws and on off-road vehicles.

◦ Carry an extra water bottle in case you need it to extinguish a small fire or sparks.

◦ Keep your cell phone charged and call 911 to report fires.

The remote chance of starting a fire in dry leaves and brush with a muzzleloading firearm comes from the unburned powder that is shot out of the muzzle of the gun. Most muzzleloading hunters no longer use the primitive black powder “patch and ball” type ammunition, but those who do should follow the shot path, checking the area 15 to 25 yards along the shot path for the hot patch to make sure it does not ignite any dry leaves. It is recommended that they stay in the area for five minutes after shooting to watch for and extinguish any smoldering embers.

For more information on fire safety and regular updates on the status of the burning ban, visit the VDOF Web site at www.dof.virginia.gov . For more information on hunting, seasons and regulations, visit VDGIF Web site at www.dgif.virginia.gov. or HuntFishVA.com .

It is the mission of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation; and to promote safety for persons and property in connection with these outdoor activities. For more information, visit the Department Web site at www.dgif.virginia.gov.

The Virginia Department of Forestry protects and develops healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians. Headquartered in Charlottesville, there are Forestry staff members assigned to every county to provide service to citizens of the Commonwealth. VDOF is an equal opportunity provider.

With nearly 16 million acres of forest land and more than 184,000 Virginians employed in forestry, forest products and related industries, Virginia forests provide more than $29 Billion annually in benefits to the Commonwealth.

Media Contact:
Julia Dixon, DGIF (804) 367-0991 Julia.dixon@dgif.virginia.gov or John Campbell, Virginia Department of Forestry (434) 220-9070 or John.campbell@dof.virginia.gov