Rules Of Thumb For Burning

Bud B. from West Virginia writes to ask about burning. "I know that burning is great for wildlife if done right. Are there good rules of thumb to follow relative to burning on my hunting farm?" 

Dr. Dave Samuel

First, make sure you get the permits required to burn. In some states these are easy to obtain, in other states these are difficult. Once that is done, low intensity, cool fires are what you want. Pick days with very low wind, high humidity, in March or so. Make sure you have a fire lane cut around the area, and if there are trees, make sure you remove all woody debris touching those trees, otherwise you can kill them. 

Old fields can be burned every two- to three years. If you are burning in the woods, do those fires in September and repeat every three years to improve ground cover. The key though is a cool, low intensity fire. 

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If you have a deer question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of’s content at

Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he’s been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 30 years.

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