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Thread: VAFB Fires

  1. #1
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    Default VAFB Fires

    For those of you that haven't been to the base in awhile, you may or may not be aware that they've had some fires. The first fire (canyon fire) broke out on the afternoon of 17 Sept, just prior to a scheduled launch. It burned an estimated 12,500 acres....the bulk of south base. see below.

    There were 3 other fires, one of which was behind FAMCAMP. Hunting is secured till further notice. How this will play out for next year is the question. Will south base be available to us next year.....?

    Regardless, ALOT of good hunting area burned.
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    Last edited by ltdann; 09-30-2016 at 11:04 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Should just let Military or Retired Military hunt next year not trying to start problems not much left on south base or maybe keep south base closed for a year or two and limit to how many people hunt the base just my thought

  3. #3
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    Probably best to keep south base closed for a bit. Hopefully we can get some rain this winter, although too much could be bad as far as the recent burn. But with the right amount of rain and time there should be some healthy deer in there. Without that can't see why the deer would even bother going back in there.


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  4. #4
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    Hey all. Glad to see the forum is back up along with all the other stuff that makes Jesse's Hunting and Outdoor site a pleasure to read and use and post on. I sit here writing while all my hunting gear sits exactly as I left Thursday after another fire had broke out on VAFB. My husband and both filled our first zone A tags on two nice deer (mine was a decent fat fork and his was a huge stud 3x2 chasing a doe at the time of his demise) with no shot meat loss. We were still planning on hunting but had decided that if we only filled the two tags we would be alright. Any hesitancy on our part was due in part to the current state of the herd and the firm belief that we measure our success as much by how many bucks we pass up as by how many and how big the ones are that we put a tag on each season. Its also measured by just how many does and fawns we see. Our experience this season was that the herd is definitely down in the areas we hunt. For the most part the bucks and does that came in were fat and healthy in appearance with a number of larger more mature bucks coming in before the fires closed the hunting down on base.

    The # of deer so far harvested this year is 70 bucks and 54 does for a total of 124 deer taken in 2016. The # of deer harvested last year were 106 bucks and 54 Does for a total of 152 deer for 2015. Thanks to officer Moses for texting me the #'s for this season. We. were well on our way to similar #'s this season before the multiple fires shut down all recreation on VAFB until further notice.

    There were multiple fires last week with the largest on south base (thank you ltdann for the map) and with one on north base requiring the temporary evacuation of FamCamp as well as other base facilities. At the worst of it, Vandenberg had over a thousand firefighters and planes and helicopters working together to put out the fires. As of today the fires have all been put out and the base is currently assessing the damage to the rangeland and its assets as well as investigating the causes of the multiple fires on base. The greatest tragedy is we lost a firefighter in a fatal traffic accident just outside of Lompoc while on his way to help fellow firefighters on base. The magnitude of the fires on base will always be linked to the loss of someone selflessly coming to aid others in the battle against the base fires. At this time and with no known time frame ALL recreational activities outside the cantonment areas on VAFB are prohibited. If you call the Conservation office the recording lists everything from jogging to hiking or site seeing as recreational activities (and that includes hunting and fishing) that are not allowed at this time.

    It seems petty to continually check for updates on when recreational activities will resume on base but as anyone reading this site and these posts know , we are all passionate and care deeply about the recreational privileges extended to those eligible on base. The base is all I have ever known since I was three and my family started taking us out to fish its shores and hunt its lands. We have been through other large fires over the years with the one in 1977 claiming the lives of our base commander and the base fire chief along with two others. It was terrifying to watch it unfold from the top of terra road as it burned a huge section of south VAFB (what is primarily c-4 now).We were also through the large Bog fire that burned a large section of what is now C-3 and C-6. Both fires burned a lot of hunting areas and did a lot of damage but after a few years the deer were larger and healthier and fatter due to the quality forage that grew after the fires. On opening day of season in 1980, my dad had a huge 4x4 down and tagged by 7:30 am and his buddy had two 4x's down about a quarter mile away on a separate hunt. That was three years after the tragic fire in 1977 in the area now known as c-4 in Honda Canyon. It looks as though that area has once again burned so we can hope that we will have a wet and rainy year to help promote regrowth. It may take a couple of years for good growth to fill in, but it can happen. It also took a couple of years after the Bog fire in c-3 and c-6 for great quality deer to start being harvested. Only time will tell.

    Nothing is certain at this time for the future of hunting and recreating in general on VAFB until the base goes through the process of evaluating what it has been through with the multiple fires. Lets hope that potential excessive security and safety measures are not a knee jerk reaction to the most recent fires and that those currently eligible to hunt and fish and recreate on VAFB continue to do so for years to come. I respect your opinion, "Rugame" but I do not agree with going backwards. I do feel that this season's shortened length should be considered as a positive for the deer in general. The rut has been on since my buck got caught chasing a doe on September 8th and my husband nailed his on September 13th also right on his doe. Plover season ended early so some hunting was done in c2 already. I would imagine many does are already bred by now and the bucks are worn down and could use a break, especially on north base where the hunting pressure has been very hard with c-1 being closed and south closed initially for launches and now for fires. And if you look at the take so far we once again are taking more bucks than does. The g-11 tag was originally for does and now we make it for a longer season. Keep it zone a for six weeks and shut her down and don't bother em after that!

    We have been hearing some massive explosions from EOD this week so perhaps whomever holds the contract for clearing the base is now clearing the burned areas. They were supposed to blow stuff in place on south VAFB friday so perhaps surface clearing is going on. It does not mean we'll be able to hunt south side's designated uxo areas soon if ever, but at least they seem to be taking advantage of the burn to get the job done.

    Be safe ya'll. Know the rules and regs for hunting and recreating on VAFB as best you can and take to heart that most of it is meant for your safety and the safety of others. We have seen outrageously stupid behavior by a number of hunters who either don't know or don't care about the rules or regulations for VAFB and that's what will shut down hunting. We resented sitting glassing an area we know to be UXO and watching hunters go in the middle of and get a deer or at least make an attempt to. Read your freaking maps people. Until the powers that be say ok hunt them, UXO areas are still off limits. Is it political and a base regulation as opposed to a state regulation? Yes. But if a thirteen year old can come up to me and tell me how he and his dad let a deer go because the map showed it was in UXO only to have another group of hunters come up and shoot the deer then that tells me firstly 13 year olds are wiser than most adults when it comes to map reading and that dad is teaching him to be a responsible hunter. He was trying to get his first deer this season but was taught restraint and how to follow the rules. It paid off with his taking a big beautiful 3x on a local ranch as the base was closed due to the fires, so rather than eat his A zone tag he went out and was rewarded with a great deer. We all make mistakes and can learn from them and hopefully will be given the benefit of the doubt in most situations, but it seemed that either a lot of hunters did not care or plain did not know the rules. We all pay for that in the end.

    Take care and good night.

  5. #5
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    Badgers Huntress, I always enjoy reading your posts. Good point on the stupid behavior. People not doing the right thing will be what gets hunting privileges shut down quicker than anything. I talked to a local hunter one morning that showed me a picture of a FREAK buck, I think it was a 6x7 that was taken on south base. It was taken in a UXO area so the hunter received a year suspension, but as far as I know he got to keep it. Maybe the penalties aren't enough to discourage the behavior.

    My son and I mostly hunted the northern part of C2 and the deer did look healthy. Also saw a big 3x2 cross into C1, which was closed. We also do several fawns so that's good.




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