MISSOULA-The 2017 fire season was extraordinarily brutal on Western Montana’s forests and ecosystems with over a million acres burned,

Many hunters are now finding themselves without their traditional hunting grounds with rifle season for deer and elk now underway.

Hunters are back out in force to gather venison or the big buck, and most active fires have associated land and road closures, which means some public lands, trails, and roads will be off-limits to hunters.

With many burned areas across Western Montana, hunters are noticing how fire season has impacted the concentration of hunters in non-burned areas, leaving them crowded.

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“We had to go to a few different areas because, because the areas that did get burned up and stuff so we had to do a lot more scouting and stuff will we’ve noticed is that there are areas that are hunted ball and stuff it’s getting hit pretty hard by more people because it’s limited,” said hunter Gust Johnson.

Hunters should check with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for closures and restrictions before going to hunt.

-Lauren Heiser reporting for MTN News