Hunting Forecast 2010

DEER

JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES

Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon and Sixes units - For the last few years, deer numbers have increased and buck ratios appeared to be high during summer surveys. Most deer will be in high elevations through September. Hunter success is generally weather-dependent, with rain and snow bringing the best hunting. Unlike many blacktails, Jackson County's deer are migratory, and hunters are encouraged to hunt high elevations in the first part of the season, switching to mid to low elevations later in the season. Don't forget to check fire restrictions before heading out, especially early in the season.

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Dixon, South Indigo, Northwest Evans Creek, Melrose, Southwest Siuslaw, East Tioga and Northeast Powers Units - Deer populations are up the last two years, with good numbers on the Umpqua Valley floor with lower numbers in the Cascades and Coast ranges. Fawn production has improved the last couple of years, showing a general increase in overall deer populations throughout the county. Buck ratios are good enough that hunters should expect to find legal bucks if they work clear cuts and other places with brushy habitat. In addition, mild winter conditions the last few years have contributed to excellent survival, providing a good deer-harvest opportunity this season.

Most property on the Umpqua valley floor is privately owned and hunters are reminded to obtain permission before hunting on those lands. In addition, before going hunting, all hunters should check with local timber companies to obtain information on access restrictions related to fire conditions.

During the early part of rifle and archery season, hunters should find deer on the northerly slopes and near water and green-up areas.

COOS COUNTY

West Tioga, west Powers, north Sixes, southwest Siuslaw units - Deer populations are improving, thanks partly to a reduction in Deer Hair-Loss Syndrome in fawns. Buck ratios were good after the season closed last year, so buck numbers should be good this season. Hunting prospects are good in all units, but your best chance is to find access to private land in the Sixes Unit. Hunt for deer in brushy openings, meadows and clear-cuts where brush is beginning to grow up.

HIGH DESERT REGION

Prineville District (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly units) - Deer hunters should find improved prospects for a buck this fall. A combination of a mild winter and a wet spring provided good fawn survival. Buck ratios also improved in all three units, which should provide for improved hunter success. Archery hunters are reminded, as part of the Mule Deer Initiative, the Maury Unit is now a controlled unit requiring archers to possess a controlled-entry buck tag.

Deschutes District (Upper Deschutes, Paulina, North Wagontire, Northwest Fort Rock, Metolius units) - Buck ratios are near or above management objectives in all Deschutes District units. There should be decent numbers of mature and yearling bucks available in all units. Measures including controlled hunting, increased enforcement, disease monitoring and closures to protect wintering habitat have helped bring buck ratios up. Overall deer populations continue to be significantly lower than desired because of disease, habitat loss and disturbance, poaching, predation and road kills. As a result, hunter success will probably be lower than average this year in the Paulina, Upper Deschutes, North Wagontire and Fort Rock units.

Klamath District (Keno, Klamath Falls, Sprague, Southwest portion of Fort Rock, West portion of Silver Lake, West Interstate) - Over-winter fawn survival was lower this year in most units despite a fairly mild winter. Buck tags were reduced in the Klamath Falls and Interstate units in response to the lower numbers. Fawn recruitment in Keno, Silver Lake, Fort Rock and Sprague was average and tag numbers are the same as last year. Although populations remain below management objectives, all units are at or above buck ratio management objectives.

NORTHEAST REGION

BAKER DISTRICT (Sumpter, Keating, Pine Creek, Lookout Mountain units) - Over-winter survival was good thanks to a milder winter. Buck ratios are above management objectives, so hunters should experience good success rates throughout the county.

GRANT DISTRICT (Northside, Desolation, Southeast Heppner, northwest Beulah units) - Deer populations in Grant County continue to be below management objectives because of poor habitat and predation. The winter was relatively mild with a long and wet spring that kept mule-deer forage green late into the summer. Fawn survival dipped a little compared to last year. Buck ratios continue to be slightly below management objective, but antler growth and body condition should be excellent because of the above-average spring rains and corresponding forage growth.

HEPPNER DISTRICT (Heppner, Fossil, East Biggs, southern Columbia Basin units) - Deer in Heppner are stable to slightly increasing and buck ratios are good. Adult deer survived the winter well for the most part. A 60,000-acre fire that burned three years ago along the breaks of the North Fork John Day should provide better forage and more opportunities for success.

The Fossil Unit deer numbers are stable to slightly increasing. Public-lands hunters can work the old Wheeler Burn, which is still producing a fair number of deer and is historically a good spot.

The Columbia Basin and East Biggs deer herds are stable to slightly declining. However, if you are lucky enough to have access to private land in the Columbia Basin or John Day River Canyon, you can expect decent hunting.


ELK

JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES

Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Tioga, Dixon and Sixes units- Spring elk surveys showed good bull ratios in the district. Early in the season, elk are likely to be found in higher elevation or areas of cooler draws where they can retreat in the heat of the day. Known water sources or wallows can be good locations to start your scouting activities. The best elk hunting comes with rain and snow later in the season. Elk populations are minimal in the East Chetco and West Applegate, though some can be found in select drainages in Applegate.

Elk in the Evans Creek Unit are found primarily near private property, especially down low, but gaining access to these properties requires homework early in the season.

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Dixon, South Indigo, Northwest Evans Creek, Melrose, Southwest Siuslaw, East Tioga, Northeast Powers Units - The outlook for elk season looks to be above average. February aerial surveys found excellent bull and calf ratios at or above ODFW management objectives. Good escapement from the 2009-10 hunting season and another mild winter increased elk survival.

Elk numbers are best in the East Tioga, mid to high elevations of the Dixon and South Indigo and the perimeter of the Melrose units. Early in the season, some of the local private timberlands are restricting access because of the high fire danger, so hunters should obtain information on any restrictions before hunting. In addition, the 2009 Williams, Boze and French Creek fires and the 2008 Rattle fire in the upper North Umpqua River have moved elk herds. Look for good concentrations of elk near or at the edge of these fire areas.

COOS COUNTY

West Tioga, west Powers, north Sixes, southwest Siuslaw units - Summer forage production in Coos County was good in many places. As a result elk should be in good physical shape. Many elk populations are increasing in the Sixes and Siuslaw units, stable in the Powers and just below the management objective in the Tioga Unit.

Elk hunting will be best on north-facing slopes in the early seasons. Later in the season, elk often move to south-facing slopes where fall green-up starts earlier. A productive habitat type in the Coast Range is where foresters have thinned timber stands. Thinning the tree canopy encourages grass and brush growth on the ground, improving feed quality. Hunting public or private lands where motor vehicle access is limited will be best. Studies have clearly shown that elk move away from motor-vehicle activity.

HIGH DESERT REGION

Prineville District (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly) - Elk numbers remain strong, in part due to good calf survival, and bull ratios meet or exceed management objectives. The Maury and Ochoco units offer the best opportunities for bagging an animal on public land, while the Grizzly unit is mostly private land where access can be difficult. Ochoco Unit rifle hunters are reminded the Rager and South Boundary TMA motorized-vehicle restrictions will be in effect, with maps of those areas available on-site and from ODFW and Ochoco National Forest offices.

Deschutes (Upper Deschutes, Paulina, north Wagontire, north Fort Rock, Metolius Units) - Paulina and Fort Rock units have good bull ratios. Relative to the number of elk, branch-antlered bull opportunity will be fair in the Paulina and East Fort Rock units. Herds are at relatively low densities and hunter success is typically low.

Elk numbers continue to grow slowly in the Cascade units. The Upper Deschutes, Metolius and West Fort Rock units are managed under the general season "Cascade" hunt. Elk densities are moderate, but hunter densities are high in the roaded portions of the Cascade units.

Elk numbers in the North Wagontire (High Desert hunts) are variable because of large movements these animals make. The elk are probably most consistent in their patterns near alfalfa fields.

Klamath District (Keno, Klamath Falls, Sprague, Southwest portion of Fort Rock, West portion of Silver Lake, West Interstate) - The Cascades offer the best opportunities for elk hunting. The Cascade Area west of Highway 97 is a general season tag. Bull ratios are above management objective and some older age bulls are available. Elk numbers are lower in the eastern part of the county, and seasons east of Highway 97 are limited entry. Overall population trends are stable to slightly increasing in some areas but below population management objectives like much of the region.

NORTHEAST REGION

BAKER DISTRICT (Sumpter, Keating, Pine Creek, Lookout Mountain units) - Bull ratios are up from last year. Calf ratios are up in the Sumpter Unit and lower than average in other units. For the best chance at tagging an elk, get as far away from roads as possible, perhaps by hunting in one of the cooperative Travel Management Areas.

GRANT DISTRICT (Northside, Desolation, Southeast Heppner, northwest Beulah units) - Habitat conditions in Grant County favor elk, most populations are at or above management objectives except Desolation, where calf recruitment is poor due to cougar predation.

HEPPNER DISTRICT (Heppner, Fossil, East Biggs, southern Columbia Basin units) - Hunting should be slightly improved from last year. Calf ratios in the Heppner Unit have increased from 15-18 per 100 cows several years ago to 33 this year, which ODFW attributes to the removal of 53 cougars over the past three years as part of the new cougar management plan. (Sport-hunters took an additional 25 in the Heppner Target Area.) Bull ratios still are slightly below objectives, but ODFW is starting to see some older age-class bulls and the higher calf ratios mean more spikes. Bull ratios in Fossil are just about at the management objective, but calf ratios are still down.


UPLAND GAME BIRDS

Note - Hunters are reminded to help ODFW by providing one wing and tail fan with rump feathers from blue and ruffed grouse and mountain quail. Paper collection bags and simple instructions are available at ODFW offices. All bags with samples (one bird per bag) should be dropped off at any ODFW office with harvest date and general area of harvest. This information determines hatching dates, sex and age composition, indicators of annual production and general health of local populations.

JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES

Both mountain quail and forest grouse numbers are average, and hunters should expect a fair harvest. Despite spring showers, most were able to re-nest. Forest grouse can be found in timbered creek draws and mountain quail will be found in brushy clear-cuts near water. A good bird dog will aid greatly in bird retrieval.

Fall turkey hunting should be fair, but developing relationships with landowners is key to getting at them, as most are on private property. Turkey hunters may use dogs during the fall season.

The only real pheasant-hunting opportunities are during the fee season that started Monday and runs through Friday, Oct. 8, at Denman Wildlife Area.

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Hunters can expect a below-average year for all species of upland game birds due to low production and recruitment levels because of the extended rainy periods this spring and early summer.

Mountain quail nesting season was below the 10-year average, but good numbers were produced so hunting success should still be good. Opportunities are best in the mid elevations of the Cascades and Coast ranges near brushy clear-cuts on secondary forest roads.

Turkey production was well below the 15-year average for poult production. Hunter harvest should be near average because of a large carryover of adult turkeys from last year. Most turkeys can be found on or adjacent to low-mid elevation private lands associated with oak savannah habitat.

California (Valley) quail counts were very low this year because of the long and wet spring, so hunting success should be below average. Most California quail are found on agricultural and low-elevation forestland.

Pheasant outlook continues to be poor because the Umpqua Valley lowlands have very few pheasants that still exist on private lands.

Blue and ruffed grouse brood counts this year indicate slightly lower than average production. Hunting availability and success for forest grouse should be about average with excellent carryover from last year. Blue grouse success is best in mid to high elevations of the Cascades in partly open conifer stands. Ruffed grouse can be found near creeks, mostly at mid elevations of both the Cascades and Coast ranges. Hunters may use rimfire rifles or pistols to harvest forest grouse.


WATERFOWL

Note - Late season South Coast goose-zone hunting will continue this year from the northern Douglas County line to the California state line and west of Highway 101. There are three hunt periods for this zone: during the first two hunting is allowed on public and private lands and during the third hunting is allowed on private land only. Hunters can reserve a late-season spot on some private land by contacting ODFW's Gold Beach field office at 541-247-7605 for maps and landowner contacts.

JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES

September Canada goose season is open in this area, and hunters will find them abundantly in valley floors, agricultural land and even football fields. Gaining access to private property is key to getting at many of these geese. The best waterfowl hunting at Denman Wildlife Area tends to occur around the end of November; area managers continue to plant crops and flood fields to attract waterfowl to Denman.

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Hunting for resident geese in Douglas County should be good this year as goose production was average. The early September goose hunt should be excellent for hunters along gravel bars frequented by geese or for those with access to private property.

Local duck production was good this year. Duck-hunting conditions should improve as the fall migrating ducks arrive, especially because production up north was above average this year.

Nearly all waterfowl hunting in the Umpqua Valley is on private property, and hunters are reminded to obtain landowner permission before hunting. Plat-I Reservoir in Sutherlin, the Umpqua River and its tributaries offer the best waterfowl hunting in the Umpqua Valley.

COOS COUNTY

Ducks will begin moving into the district early in the fall and initially concentrate in coastal bays and other large water bodies. A large portion of Coos Bay is open to hunting even though it is within the city limits of Coos Bay. For information on the area open for hunting contact the ODFW Charleston Field Office at 541-888-5515.

As winter comes on and the rainy season starts, waterfowl will disperse inland to flooded river valleys like the Coquille. Geese will concentrate on private pastures around river valleys. Canada goose populations have been growing over the past few years and good hunting can be found throughout most of the county.

KLAMATH COUNTY

Waterfowl hunting in the Klamath Basin should be good to very good. Early season usually is best for local and early migrant birds, and hunters can expect to find abundant gadwall and mallard in the Klamath Basin and up into the Summer Lake Basin in Lake County. Water conditions are generally good, with average winter snow pack and timely spring and summer rains. Hunting prospects will depend on Pacific Northwest weather systems moving birds in Klamath and Lake Counties before freeze-up.

Most goose hunting occurs on private lands and hunters are reminded to ask permission from landowners before hunting private lands. These private lands can provide excellent opportunities for those willing to seek access and spend some time scouting. Favorable weather conditions will be necessary to encourage large numbers of geese to stage in the basin and create favorable hunting conditions. Goose hunting should improve later in the season with freezing conditions, which tend to concentrate geese near open water areas.

The September Canada Goose season will remain closed but the Klamath County Zone will continue with several changes. The white-fronted goose bag limit has been increased from two to four per day due to robust populations in the Pacific flyway. Also new for the late season is an increase in the bag limit of white geese from four to six per day. This bag limit includes snow and Ross' geese. This late goose season is open only on private lands. The hunt helps alleviate agricultural damage from large numbers of white-fronted geese, snow and Ross' geese.

Spring surveys observed more than 400,000 white-fronted geese staging in the Klamath Basin during early March. Hunters are responsible for obtaining permission from private landowners to take part in this hunt. Private lands with areas of high goose concentrations are normally in close proximity to state and federal refuges, the Klamath River, Lost River and several private lakes. Most damage complaints received in the area come from locations between the California and Oregon state line and the city of Klamath Falls. Additional damage is happening in Yonna and Langell Valleys east of Klamath Falls. Contact ODFW's Klamath Falls office at 541-883-5732 for more information.


BEAR AND COUGAR

Note - Check-in is mandatory for successful bear and cougar hunters. Bring a thawed hide and skull within 10 days to certain ODFW offices. For best results, prop the animal's mouth open with a stick after harvest.

Cougar season now runs year-round. Hunters may hunt cougar (and bear) after filling their deer or elk tags. Hunters may not harvest spotted cougar kittens or females with spotted kittens.

ROGUE WATERSHED DISTRICT

Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon and Sixes units - Bear appear to be abundant. During hot, dry weather, bears will be found around cooler wet drainages. As the berry crops ripen, hunters should locate these areas. The best times to look for bears are in the early morning and late evenings.

Cougars are available throughout the district, and in most of Jackson County they can be hunted all year long. The vast majority of cougars taken today are by hunters pursuing other species.

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Dixon, southern Indigo, northwest Evans Creek, Melrose, southwest Siuslaw, eastern Tioga and northeast Power units - The normal early-fall dry weather conditions will concentrate bears near streams where foraging is better. Hunters are advised to concentrate their efforts in the berry patches in early morning and late afternoon. Bear numbers are highest at middle to low elevations in the Coast Range with smaller populations in the Cascades. Cougars are abundant throughout Douglas County and are a challenge to hunt, but harvest success is greatest adjacent to private low-elevation lands using a predator call.

COOS COUNTY

West Tioga, west Powers, north Sixes, southwest Siuslaw units - Bear and cougar populations are similar to last year. The highest bear densities are near the Umpqua River close to the coast. Bear-hunting opportunities will be best near blackberry and huckleberry patches. These patches can be found in creek bottoms in clear-cuts or along deactivated forest roads that are "brushing in." The early summer feed conditions were not good for bears in the county because salmonberry and thimbleberry crops were unproductive. Hunting bears with predator calls may be a good method to use.


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