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  • 2013 fall hunting forecast - Southwest Region

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  • JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES - (Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon, and Sixes units.) The fall deer-hunting forecast in Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties looks good. Deer counts have been stable for the past three years, with buck ratios remaining strong. Acorn surveys throughout the area show variation in acorn abundance. The spring had less rainfall resulting in reduced brush. Hunting is expected to be average for all of the units. Most deer will be in high elevations through September. 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. Josephine and Curry county deer populations show very little migration, and deer can be found throughout all elevations. 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 remain similar to last year, with large numbers on the Umpqua Valley floor and lower populations in the Cascade and Coast ranges. Fawn ratios have been good the last 10 years, showing good overall deer recruitment throughout the county. Buck ratios are similar to last year, so hunters should expect to find a good number of legal bucks if they work clear-cuts and other places that have brushy habitat. In addition, mild winter conditions over 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 private lands. For hunters looking to hunt on private timberlands, don't forget to 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, near water and green-up areas.
    COOS COUNTY - (West Tioga, West Powers, North Sixes, Southwest Siuslaw units.) Overall deer populations in Coos County appear to be stable with some increase seen in the North Sixes and portions of the Tioga units. A decreased prevalence of deer hair-loss syndrome has resulted in better fawn survival in these areas. Buck survival during last season appeared to be fairly high as well. Hunting prospects are good in all units; however, a large percentage of private versus public lands may limit hunter access in some areas of the Powers and Sixes units. Hunters are encouraged to scout early and contact landowners in these areas to obtain access. Hunters are also encouraged to contact private timber companies and ranch owners to ask for hunting access. There is more accessible public land in the Tioga Unit, and areas such as the Elliott State Forest may be productive. 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.
    JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES - (Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Tioga, Dixon, and Sixes units.) Bull ratios remain good for all of the units. February elk surveys showed a decrease in calf ratios. Cascade elk season will be early again this year with the potential to be hot and dry, so it is important for hunters to scout before hunting. Known water sources or wallows can be good locations to start your scouting. Archery hunters should focus on north-facing hills in higher elevation or areas of cooler draws where they can retreat during the heat of the day. Elk populations are minimal in the East Chetco and Applegate units, though some can be found in select drainages in Applegate. Units along the coast have higher elk numbers on private property. Elk in the Evans Creek Unit are primarily found near private properties. There also are lots of elk down low in and amongst private lands, but gaining access to these properties requires homework early in the season.
    A new change for this year for archery, muzzle loader and disability hunters — the bag limit is bull only (rather than any elk) within national forestlands in the Dixon, Evans Creek and Rogue units because of declining elk populations.
    Good public hunting opportunities exist on Forest Service (Siskiyou, Siuslaw, Rogue River and Umpqua national forests) and BLM lands; some state forest lands such as the Elliott State Forest in Coos and Douglas counties can also be hunted. Timber-company lands in the Tioga, Sixes, Rogue, Evans Creek, and Applegate units are sometimes open to public hunting. But hunters need to contact these companies prior to hunting to obtain the latest information on open areas and any restrictions such as road or fire closures.
    There is public hunting on Coos County forestland in the north portion of the Sixes Unit and the Siskiyou National Forest in the south.
    The Jackson Travel Management Area (JACTMA), which includes private forestlands, provides quality nonmotorized hunting for deer, elk, turkeys and mountain quail. This area restricts entry by motor vehicles from three days prior to General Cascade Elk season until April 30. The Upper Rogue Green Dot Travel Management program again will be in effect on the Prospect and Butte Falls ranger districts in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest; it restricts motorized vehicle access to designated roads during the general Cascade elk season. The Forest Service combined and renamed the Prospect and Butte Falls ranger districts to the "High Cascades Ranger District." TMA maps are available at the Central Point ODFW office (541-826-8774). See page 96 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations for more on locations and TMAs.
    DOUGLAS COUNTY - (Dixon, South Indigo, Northwest Evans Creek, Melrose, Southwest Siuslaw, East Tioga and Northeast Powers units.) The outlook for hunters this elk season looks to be similar to last year. February aerial surveys found good bull and calf ratios at or close to management objectives. Good escapement from the 2012 hunting season and another mild winter increased elk-herd survival. Elk numbers are greatest in the East Tioga, mid to high elevations of the Dixon and South Indigo units and the perimeter of the Melrose unit. 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 restrictions before hunting.
    COOS COUNTY - (West Tioga, West Powers, North Sixes, Southwest Siuslaw units.) Early forage production in Coos County was good in most places because of significant and timely spring rains; however, an extremely dry summer and the resulting fire danger may lead to large tracts of land being closed to access during early general bow, controlled bow and youth controlled hunts. Elk are expected to be in good physical shape because a large amount of feed is available. Elk populations are above the management objective in the Sixes Unit and close to objective in Powers. Over the past few years, the population in the Tioga has decreased. Much of the decrease was intentional because of populations that were chronically above management objective. Surveys done in February indicate the Tioga elk population is now at or slightly below management objective. This has resulted in limited opportunities to harvest cows in the Tioga Unit, and hunters are reminded that disability-permit holders and bowhunters can no longer harvest antlerless animals in the Tioga Unit. This change will allow the population to slowly increase toward the management objective.
    The most important factor that determines where elk will be found is human activity. Elk can be expected to move to places where vehicle and other human activity are minimized. Road closure areas often are the best places to find elk on a regular basis. Within these 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 Coast Range is areas where foresters have thinned timber stands. Thinning the tree canopy encourages grass and brush growth on the ground, improving feed quality.
    JACKSON, JOSEPHINE AND CURRY COUNTIES - Both mountain quail and forest grouse numbers are higher this year because of the mild spring, so hunters can expect a good year. 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. Most of the population is located on private, low-elevation lands. A growing number of turkeys are finding refuge in mid-elevation conifers with many meadows or clear-cuts. Turkey hunters may use dogs during the fall season. Pheasant hunting in the counties are limited primary to private lands. The only real public pheasant hunting opportunity is during the fee season Sept. 16 to Oct. 4 at Denman Wildlife Area.
    DOUGLAS COUNTY - Overall, hunters can expect a slightly below average year for upland gamebirds because of reduced numbers and lower recruitment levels. It is slightly lower because of some wet periods this spring combined with lower production the previous few years. This year, like last year, the turkey production was below the 15-year average in poult production. The expected hunter harvest should be near average because of good carryover of adult turkeys the last few years. Most turkeys can be found on or adjacent to low-mid elevation private lands associated with oak savannah habitat.
    Mountain quail nesting season was good, with average numbers produced, so hunting success should be good. Success is best in the mid-elevations of the Cascades and Coast ranges near brushy clear-cuts on secondary forest roads. California (Valley) quail counts were low this year because of the long and wet spring, so hunting success should be lower than 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 for this year indicate slightly lower than average production. Hunting availability and success for forest grouse should be fair to good this season. 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.
    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 helps ODFW determine hatching dates, sex and age composition, an indicator of annual production and general health of local populations. See page 42 of regulations for more details.
    COOS COUNTY - As was the case last year, blue grouse, ruffed grouse and wild turkey production appears to be poor because of the long, wet, winter-like spring. Surveys indicated poor brood success. In these conditions, grouse and turkey broods do not survive well because of hypothermia. Mountain quail and California quail will likely do better than forest grouse species 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, the best hunting is generally in the vicinity of agricultural areas. Hunters are reminded to scout early and obtain permission before hunting.
    JACKSON, JOSEPHINE AND CURRY COUNTIES - Take advantage of the September Canada goose season this year. A good number of residential flocks 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 Wildlife Area tends to occur around the end of November; area managers continue to plant crops and flood fields to attract waterfowl to Denman. Stormy weather plays a big factor in migratory birds coming into the valley and hunter success.
    Explore bird-hunting locations with ODFW's Oregon Hunting Access Map. There also are some public hunting opportunities on the Rogue and Umpqua rivers and area reservoirs. Much opportunity in the region is on private properties; hunters will need to gain permission. Please be considerate of private residences along the riverbanks.
    DOUGLAS COUNTY - Hunting for resident geese in Douglas County should be fair to good this year as goose production was slightly below average. The early September goose hunt should be excellent for hunters along river gravel bars frequented by geese or for those with permitted access to private property.
    Local duck production was fair to good this year. Duck hunting conditions should improve as the fall migrating ducks arrive, especially since 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 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 within the city limits of Coos Bay. Other areas within the city limits of Coos Bay and all areas within city limits of North Bend are closed to hunting. There also is an area near the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend that is closed to hunting. Hunters are encouraged to contact the ODFW Charleston Field Office (541-888-5515) to obtain the latest information on areas open for hunting. As winter comes on and the rainy season starts, waterfowl will disperse inland to flooded river valleys such as 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 in 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.
    JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES - Spring rains were less this year; berry crops are fewer and vary throughout each county. Locating these berry crops and looking for bear sign will improve productivity. Hunters can expect an above-average year. Bear numbers continue to be abundant. During hot, dry weather, bears will be found around cooler, wet drainages, with the best times in early morning and late evening.
    Cougars are found throughout the district and can be hunted all year long. They can pose a challenge to hunt, but hunters are finding the use of predator calls along major ridge lines as a way to increase their odds. Don't forget to purchase a tag so you can take one if you see it; the vast majority of cougars taken today are by hunters pursuing other species.
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