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Hunters Urged To Use Caution This Weekend

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Pheasant hunting season for South Dakota residents begins on Saturday. But with the high winds and dry weather, the conditions are just right for fire.

McCook County Emergency Manager Brad Stiefwater said, "This hunting season will be a higher danger than that of any hunting season in the past."

McCook County has had a burn ban in place since July 20, the longest ban Brad Stiefvater can remember in his 35 years as emergency manager.

"We've had fire lines moving 20 miles an hour," said Stiefwater.

And in these conditions, there's no telling what will spark one.

Stiefvater said, "Right now the conditions are so that when someone's starts a fire it's not just the field we've had in the past months true wildland fires that are crossing township roads and you can't stop them."

Which makes Stiefvater that much more concerned with hunters going into the fields.

"There's going to be a lot of vehicles driving in corn fields and that's even dangerous now with all the trash that is so extremely dry," said Stiefwater.

Stiefvaters says don't park in areas with high vegetation because it's just a matter of time before a leaf gets into your vehicle's exhaust system and starts burning. Of course, no smoking and it's a good idea to have water, just in case something were to catch fire.

Stiefwater said, "Much like this years harvest a lot of the folks combining out in the fields have taken  water with them and stopped fires early that way." 
But before you even reach for the bucket, Stiefvater says make a phone call.

"If even they think they can contain it, they need to make that call first and then fight it so we can get an early start before this wind turns it into several sections of fields on fire," said Stiefwater.

Hunting begins at noon and goes until sunset. The traditional pheasant hunting season for those coming from out of state begins on Oct. 20.
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