Rain helps reopen hunting grounds

This week's rains were strong enough to extinguish a lingering fire season in Southern Oregon and have prompted some private timber companies to reopen some access to their lands.

Plum Creek is now allowing walk-in and motorized access to its Southern Oregon lands, while Lone Rock is allowing limited driving and walk-in access, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.

However, a few companies such as Hancock Forest Management haven't put their John Hancock on a letter granting access, according to state foresters.

"Most folks are allowing walk-in access," says Mike Dykzeul, director of forest protection for the Oregon Forest Industries Council and the compiler of the private forest access list for ODF.

Those who have not opened their lands are awaiting the results of a storm forecast for this weekend to determine whether they will lift their closures.

The changes do not yet apply to Eastern Oregon, where fire-season restrictions remain in effect, according to ODF.

Easing the closures comes a little late for general-season rifle hunters stalking Roosevelt bull elk, because their season ends this evening. But it will help general-season rifle hunters, who return to the woods Saturday for the second half of the blacktail buck deer season.

For specifics, check the Oregon Department of Forestry website at www.oregon.gov/odf/pages/fire/corporate_closure.aspx.

ODFW offices closed today for employee furlough

Oregonians who want to take part in the second half of the Cascade's general rifle season for blacktail deer will have to wait until Monday if they haven't already purchased a tag.

Today is an unpaid furlough day for state employees, meaning the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's field offices will be closed. ODFW offices are the only locations Oregonians can buy mid-season hunting tags for ongoing hunts.

Hunters who missed the preseason deadline must go to an ODFW field office and from there contact the agency's license office in Salem, according to Michelle Dennehy, the OFDW's Wildlife Division spokeswoman.

Licensing agents in Salem will then fax an affidavit to that location for hunters to sign, saying they have not taken part in that particular hunt without a tag so far this season.

Hunters then need to pay a $17 duplicate tag fee and buy the tag they seek.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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