Good weather is bad news for elk hunters

Thousands of hunters are heading to the South Cascades this weekend in hopes of becoming part of the 5 Percent Club — those skilled and lucky enough to bag a Roosevelt bull elk during the general rifle season.

But they might have a better chance at getting a sunburn than a branch bull this weekend.

Temperatures are forecast to climb into the mid-60s, even at higher elevations between Prospect and Crater Lake National Park, making for less-than-ideal hunting conditions.

"It's looking fairly sunny all week, and that's kind of a bummer," says Steve Niemela, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's assistant Rogue District wildlife biologist in Central Point.

Not even a good rainstorm, let alone some good tracking snow that helps turn hunters into bull-shooters, is on the horizon for the one-week season that opens Saturday in the Rogue, Evans Creek and Dixon units of Southern Oregon.

"We'd prefer weather that most people would consider bad, but that would get hunters excited," Niemela says.

Still, expect hunters to line up at point-of-sale license outlets today to buy their tags. Sales end late tonight.

As always, hunters will face an uphill battle in their quest to beat the percentages and bag a bull.

Last year, 1,790 hunters logged 7,491 days in the woods of the Rogue Unit and shot just 88 bulls for a 5 percent success rate. As poor as that was, it beat 2009, when hunters battling hot weather and shifting herds shot just 42 bulls for a record-low 2 percent success rate.

This year, hunters head into the season with a bit more hope. The Rogue Unit has an estimated 19 bulls per 100 cows, up from the 16 bulls per 100 cows ratio of the past two years and nearly double the 10 bulls per 100 cows for which the unit is managed.

The Dixon Unit, on the opposite side of Highway 62 in northern Jackson County, also sports a ratio of 19 bulls per 100 cows, while the Applegate and Evans Creek units each sport 11 bulls per 100 cows.

Bug talk at Flyfishers meeting Wednesday

The Bug Man will emerge in Medford Wednesday to talk about ... emergers.

Author and former state entomologist Rick Hafele will be the guest speaker at the Rogue FlyFishers Association meeting at the Red Lion Hotel, 200 N. Riverside Ave., Medford.

Hafele's program is entitled "Understanding Emergers," which will focus on how to use artificial flies to imitate real nymphs that are heading to the surface to emerge and fly away as adults.

Fishing emergers is one of the most effective fly-fishing techniques when done properly and at the right times. Hafele will discuss how to choose the proper fly and how to fish them.

The meeting begins with the "Wet Fly" social hour at 6 p.m., followed by a raffle, club business and presentation at 7 p.m.

The public is welcome.

For more on the association, see its website at

Film highlights Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail Association will hold a free public showing of the National Geographic Channel's "America's Wild Places: The Pacific Crest Trail" on Thursday, Oct. 20, in Meese Auditorium in Southern Oregon University's Art Building in Ashland.

The association will air the 50-minute show at 6:30 p.m. and again at 8 p.m.

The film highlights views along the 2,650-mile trail from Mexico to Canada, including a stretch along the Cascades in eastern Jackson County.

Ian Nelson, the PCTA's Big Bend regional representative, will be on hand to answer questions.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email

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