Deer hunting season threatened if it doesn't start raining

Deer hunting season threatened if it doesn't start raining »Play Video
Smoke hangs in the air from a wildfire. The lack of rain has made the region's forests like tinderboxes and has forced officials to lock up areas that are some deer hunters' favorite spots.

OREGON CITY, Ore. – With deer hunting season set to start Saturday, wildfires and dry conditions are locking hunters out of some of their favorite spots.

Steve Pruitt bought his hunting license Friday and was excited for the opening of deer rifle season. It's been something he's been doing since he was a young boy.

Pruitt is one of those lucky hunters who has enough of his own land and who knows so many large landowners, he doesn't have to worry about where he can bag a big buck.

But thousands of other hunters are not that lucky, and when they try to hunt on private timber property, they'll find locked gates.

More than 3 million private timberland acres in Oregon are now closed – gates locked – due to high fire danger.

The manager of one sporting-goods store said it hasn't hurt business so far, because a lot of people are coming in and buying ammunition or a new pair of binoculars – even rifles. People are getting out and hunting while they can, fearing the rains will never come and the season could be closed altogether.

So Oregon hunters are praying for rain. It's not only needed so they don't loudly crunch their way across forests scaring game, it’s also needed to soak the dangerously dry forest and grasslands and save deer hunting season from a complete closure.

"This has been something that hasn't been an issue in the last few years, but I mean years ago, I remember a couple times where they did postpone the season," said hunter Ken Bahram.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn’t start raining, if they cancel it," said Pruitt.

For more on which hunting areas are closed right now in Oregon, click here.