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  • 2011 Hunting Forecast

  • Southwest Region
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  • Southwest Region
    DEER
    (Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon, and Sixes units)
    For the last two years, deer numbers have decreased slightly from previous years, although buck ratios appear to remain high. Twenty randomly placed game cameras along a game trail in the Rogue unit this summer showed a good ratio of deer. 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 black-tails, 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.
    (Dixon, South Indigo, Northwest Evans Creek, Melrose, Southwest Siuslaw, East Tioga and Northeast Powers units)
    Deer populations are stable to slightly increasing, with good numbers on the Umpqua Valley floor and lower numbers in the Cascades and Coast ranges.
    Fawn ratios have been good the last nine years, showing a general increase throughout the county. Buck ratios have increased enough that hunters should expect to find a good number of legal bucks if they work clearcuts and other places with brushy habitats. In addition, mild winters over the last few years have contributed to excellent survival rates for deer.
    Most property on the Umpqua valley floor is privately owned, and hunters need to obtain permission before hunting on private lands. In addition, before going hunting, check with local timber companies to obtain information on access restrictions related to fire conditions. During the early part of rifle season hunters should find deer on the northerly slopes and near water and green-up areas.
    (West Tioga, West Powers, North Sixes, Southwest Siuslaw units)
    Deer populations in Coos County appear to be improving over the past few years. Fawn production and survival appears to be fairly good, possibly due to a decreased prevalence of deer hair-loss syndrome. Buck survival last season appeared to be fairly high, as well. Hunting prospects are good in all units, but there is more accessible public land in the Tioga Unit.
    The sixes and Powers units have good deer populations, but access to them is on private land. Hunters should contact timber companies and ranch owners to ask for hunting access. Hunt for deer in brushy openings, meadows and clear cuts where brush is beginning to grow up. Areas where vehicle access is limited will be the most productive for deer.
    ELK
    (Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Tioga, Dixon and Sixes units)
    Due to bad weather conditions, a lower number of elk were found during ODFW spring elk surveys and elk bull ratios remain average.
    It is important for hunters to pre-scout areas for elk. Early in the season, elk are likely to be found in higher elevation or areas of cooler draws where they can retreat during 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, particularly frequent snows that allow better tracking. Elk populations are minimal in the East Chetco and the West Applegate, though some can be found in select drainages in the Applegate.
    Elk in the Evans Creek Unit are primarily found near private property. A lot of elk are down low in and amongst private lands, but gaining access to these properties requires homework early in the season.
    (Dixon, South Indigo, Northwest Evans Creek, Melrose, Southwest Siuslaw, East Tioga and Northeast Powers units)
    The elk outlook for this season looks to be above average. February aerial surveys found excellent bull and calf ratios, plus populations are above or slightly below ODFW's management objectives.
    Good escapement from the 2010-11 hunting season and another mild winter increased elk survival. Elk numbers are greatest in the East Tioga unit, in mid to high elevations of the Dixon and South Indigo units, and on the perimeter of the Melrose unit.
    Early in the season, some of the local private timberlands are restricting access due to high fire danger, so hunters should obtain more information on any restrictions before hunting. Hunters are encouraged to look for good concentrations of elk near or at the edge of recent fire areas, especially on U.S. Forest Service lands.
    (West Tioga, West Powers, North Sixes, Southwest Siuslaw units)
    Forage production in Coos County was good in most places due to heavy spring rains. Elk are expected to be in good physical shape because of all the feed that's available.
    Elk populations are above the ODFW's management objective in the Sixes Unit and close to the objective in Powers. Over the past few years, the population appears to have slipped below states objectives in the Tioga Unit. Surveys in February indicated those populations improved some but still have a ways to go to get back up to the target.
    The most important factor that determines where elk will be found is human activity. Elk can be expected to move to places with less vehicle and other human activity. Closed roads often are the best places to find elk. Within these road-closure areas, hunting will be best on north-facing slopes in the early season. Later in the season, elk often move to south-facing slopes where green-up starts earlier. A particularly productive habitat type to hunt in the Oregon Coast Range is areas where foresters have thinned timber stands. Thinning the tree canopy encourages grass and brush growth on the ground and feed quality improves.
    Waterfowl
    Hunters should take advantage of the September Canada goose season this year. A good number of residential flocks of geese are on valley floors, agricultural land and at Denman Wildlife Area. Gaining access to private property is key to getting at many of these geese. The best waterfowl hunting at Denman tends to occur around the end of November; area managers continue to plant crops and flood fields to attract waterfowl. Stormy weather plays a big factor in migratory birds coming into the valley and in hunter success.
    Ducks will begin moving into the county 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 some of it is with in the city limits of Coos Bay.
    For information on the areas 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. Good goose hunting can be found throughout most of the county. The key to a successful hunt is scouting before the hunt for areas where geese are going to feed or rest.
    Duck-hunting conditions should improve as the fall migrating ducks arrive, especially since production up north was above average this year. Hunting for resident geese should be good this year as goose production was average. The early September goose hunt should be excellent for hunters along river gravel bars frequented by geese or for those with access to private property.
    Local duck production was good 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.
    Jackson, Josephine, Curry counties
    Both mountain quail and forest grouse numbers appear to be average, and hunters should expect a fair harvest. Despite persistent spring showers, most were able to nest.
    Forest grouse can be found in timbered creek draws, and mountain quail will be found in brushy clearcuts near water. A good bird dog will aid greatly in bird retrieval.
    Fall turkey hunting should be fair but developing a relationship 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 Sept. 19 and runs to Oct. 7 at Denman Wildlife Area.
    Blue grouse, ruffed grouse and wild turkey production appears to be poor due to the long, winter-like spring. In these conditions, grouse and turkey broods often die from hypothermia. Mountain quail and California quail will likely do better because their broods hatch later in the spring.
    Those interested in hunting grouse will find them on closed forest roads or near creek bottoms. Quail will be found around clearcuts and exposed ridges. While wild turkeys can be found in forested areas in the county, the best hunting is generally in the vicinity of agricultural areas.
    Hunters can expect an average to slightly below average year for upland game birds due to low chick survival rates.
    Mountain quail nesting season was good, so hunting success should still be good. Success is best in the mid-elevations of the Cascades and Coast Range near brushy clear-cuts on secondary forest roads.
    This year turkey production was below the 15-year average. Hunter harvest should be near average because of a large carryover of adult turkeys the two last years. Most turkeys can be found on or adjacent to low- to mid-elevation private lands associated with oak savannah habitat.
    California (Valley) quail counts were very low this year because of the long, wet spring, so hunting success should be lower than average. Most California quail are found on agricultural and low-elevation forestland.
    The pheasant outlook continues to be poor because the Umpqua Valley lowlands have very few pheasants remaining on private lands.
    Blue and ruffed grouse brood counts for this year indicate average to slightly lower than average production. Hunting availability and success for forest grouse should be about average this season with excellent carryover from last year. Hunters may use rimfire rifles or pistols to harvest forest grouse.
    High Desert Region
    DEER
    (Hood, White River, Maupin, West Biggs)
    The Hood Unit offers good hunting prospects for those who put in the time to hunt the thick cover, which is where hunters will find the older age-class bucks. Rains during the season will improve hunting conditions, putting bucks on the move during daylight hours. Older clearcuts are also a favorite place for deer in the Hood Unit.
    The West Biggs appears to have good numbers of deer, with excellent recruitment last spring and a good component of mature bucks. The Deschutes and John Day canyons can be great places to find weary bucks, especially later in the season.
    The Maupin unit should provide good opportunities for older bucks for hunters with access to private lands.
    Buck numbers were at management objectives in the White River Unit and fawn numbers were up. Weather permitting, this should provide for increased harvest opportunities. Cooler, wetter spring and summer conditions have kept some deer at lower elevations than usual. Look for security areas away from roads and other hunters for your best chances at a nice buck.
    Black-tailed deer study: ODFW is conducting a buck deer study in the southern portion of the White River Unit to improve its knowledge of local deer herds. Radio-collared deer in this unit are legal to shoot, but return the collar and identify the location of the kill to The Dalles District office, 3701 W 13th St., 541-296-4628.
    (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly)
    Deer hunters should find improved buck prospects this fall. Buck ratios improved in all three units, and coupled with good fawn survival this should provide for improved success. The abundant spring rains produced good forage conditions and filled empty reservoirs, allowing deer to be more widely scattered across their range. Deer are entering the fall in good physical condition, and hunters can expect to see more yearling bucks this year. Archery hunters are reminded that as part of the Mule Deer Initiative; the Maury Unit is now a controlled unit requiring archers to possess a controlled entry buck tag. Rifle buck tags are at the same number as last year for all three units.
    The Maury Unit is approximately 65 percent public lands, with BLM managing most of the lands available to hunters. The unit includes the Maury Mountains, managed by the Ochoco National Forest. The Gerry Mountain, South Fork Crooked River, Sand Hollow Well and Hampton Butte Wilderness Study Areas are on BLM lands and offer challenging and more roadless hunting opportunities. The Ochoco Unit is approximately 50 percent Ochoco National Forest, 10 percent BLM, with the remainder private. The South Boundary and Rager Travel Management Areas (TMAs) are in this unit on Ochoco National Forest lands. Motorized vehicles are allowed, but are restricted to designated roads. Maps for both TMAs are available at portal signs and at Ochoco National Forest and Prineville ODFW offices.
    The Grizzly Unit is approximately 70 percent private land so access is challenging. Public lands are mostly on the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland.
    (Upper Deschutes, Paulina, North Wagontire, Northwest Fort Rock, Metolius)
    Buck ratios are near or above management objectives in all Deschutes District units. Decent numbers of mature and yearling bucks should be available in all units, but the overall deer population continues to be significantly lower than desired. As a result, hunter success will probably be lower than average this year in the Paulina, Upper Deschutes, North Wagontire and Fort Rock units. Hunter success is expected to be above average in the Metolius Unit.
    ELK
    (Hood, White River, Maupin, West Biggs)
    Elk numbers in the White River and Hood units are near the state's management objective and animals will be found scattered in small groups throughout the units. Bull numbers are fair, but heavy cover makes harvesting one a challenge.
    Most mature bulls are found at higher elevations, especially during the first season. Most hunters choose to hunt the second of the two general seasons. The second season is longer, with a greater chance of winter weather to improve hunting conditions and success. Bull elk hunting in Maupin and West Biggs also is a general season, but the animals are almost exclusively found on private lands. Unless a hunter knows a landowner in that area, it will be difficult to find a place to hunt. The White River Wildlife Area has fair numbers of elk and is open to public hunting.
    (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly)
    Elk numbers are below management objectives in all three units, with bull ratios below the goals in the Ochoco and Grizzly units. However, elk are in good physical condition and are fairly scattered throughout the units.
    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. Elk tag numbers were decreased in the Ochoco and Grizzly units as a result of low population estimates and lower bull ratios.
    (Upper Deschutes, Paulina, North Wagontire, North Fort Rock, Metolius)
    The Paulina and Fort Rock units have good bull ratios relative to the number of elk, but the elk population is relatively low so 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. For solitude, seek more remote wilderness and roadless areas in the Cascades.
    Elk numbers in the North Wagontire (High Desert hunts) are quite variable due to large movements these animals make. The elk are most consistent in their daily patterns near alfalfa fields. Hunters are advised to select their target animal carefully when elk are in open country and in large herds to avoid wounding animals or hitting multiple animals.
    (Keno, Klamath Falls, Sprague, SW portion of Ft Rock, West portion of Silver Lake, West Interstate)
    Population trends are stable to slightly increasing in some areas, but like much of the region overall numbers are below population management objectives. 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 the state's management objective and some older bulls are available. Elk numbers are lower in the eastern part of the county, and seasons east of Highway 97 are limited entry.
    Waterfowl
    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 above-average winter snowpack and timely spring and summer rains. Hunting prospects will depend on Pacific Northwest weather systems moving birds into 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.
    Favorable weather conditions will be necessary to encourage large numbers of geese to stage in the basin, reduce overflights directly to wintering areas further south, 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 similar to last season. The white-fronted goose bag limit will remain at four per day due to robust populations in the Pacific Flyway. The bag limit for white geese remains at 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, snow and Ross' geese. March surveys observed more than 400,000 white-fronted geese staging in the Klamath Basin. Hunters are responsible for first 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.
    Early season is usually best for local and early migrant birds, and hunters can expect to find abundant gadwalls and mallards in Klamath Basin.
    Pheasant Hunters: Pheasants will be released only in Unit C during the first week of the season. After Oct. 14, pheasants will be released in all units on non-hunt days until approximately Thanksgiving weekend.
    Days open for game-bird hunting are Oct. 8-9, 11, 13, 15 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, even days in November and December, and odd days in January. (Hunting on Oct. 8, 9 and 15 is on a reservation basis with standby and refill.) Oct. 23 is the youth waterfowl reservation hunt in Units A and B, with Unit C open to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis.)
    Due to the concurrent opening of waterfowl and upland game birds in Zone 2, reservations for Klamath Wildlife Area on Oct. 8-9 and 15 will be for both waterfowl and upland game birds. Hunters who obtain reservations to hunt these days will need to check in at the check station at least a half-hour before waterfowl shooting hours begins, even if you only want to hunt upland game birds. This will allow game managers to refill any unused reservation spots as early as possible.
    Duck and Canada goose hunting should be good early in the season before waterbodies freeze. The Warner Wetlands and Warner Valley lakes north of Hart Lake are full. Restrictions remain in place for white-fronted goose hunting in Lake County during the youth hunts and the general goose season. They are designed to reduce harvest of the tule white-fronted goose. The snow-goose hatch for Wrangle Island and western Canadian Arctic populations improved this summer. Hunters should expect near average success for snow geese.
    More than 60 percent of this 19,000-acre area is open for waterfowl hunting seven days a week during the seasons. Early season is usually best for local and early migrant birds, and hunters can expect to find abundant gadwalls and mallards in the Summer Lake basin. By mid to late November freezing conditions occur and most waterfowl will have migrated south to wintering areas.
    Habitat work on Summer Lake, which involves drawing down and holding some water areas dry to control excessively dense vegetation, re-establish open water features and rehabilitate local marshes, will continue this year. Though hunters might see a short-term impact to their regular hunting spot, these habitat improvements will improve conditions for waterfowl and for hunters over the long term. To compensate for the diminished size of hunting areas, the northern portion of Bullgate Refuge (620 acres) will be open to hunting.
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