Wild fall chinook salmon are late to their downtown Medford spawning grounds in Bear Creek, but at least a few of them have made it.

Wild fall chinook salmon are late to their downtown Medford spawning grounds in Bear Creek, but at least a few of them have made it.

Bear Creek fish-counter Jim Hutchins spied seven spawning salmon Saturday along two stretches of Bear Creek in Medford, the first of these large salmon in the Medford stretch of the creek so far this year.

Five were actively spawning behind the Target Store parking lot north of the creek's McAndrews Road bridge, Hutchins says.

Two of those fish were approximately 30 pounds and already carving out their egg nests, called redds, about 50 yards downstream from the bridge, Hutchins says.

Two were spied by the Main Street bridge in downtown Medford, but those fish were headed upstream and not stopping to spawn quite yet, he says.

Hutchins says he also has seen several smaller "jack" salmon in the stream, as well.

"That's not much, but a few fish are showing so I'm excited," Hutchins says.

Hutchins, a Jacksonville naturalist, has walked sections of Bear Creek the past 15 falls to count salmon and redds for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

This week typically is the peak week that he sees spawning salmon in Bear Creek.

Bear Creek is a major upper Rogue River spawning stream that winds through the heart of development along the Interstate 5 corridor.

The all-wild fall chinook run up the Rogue is relatively poor this year, another victim of bad ocean conditions in recent years. The upper Rogue is the upstream fringe of Rogue Basin fall chinook, which spawn more heavily in the Grants Pass area and in the Applegate River.

Other popular viewing locations include an overlook along the Bear Creek Greenway just downstream of the Jackson Street bridge and the site of the old Jackson Street Dam.

For up-to-date viewing information, check the Bear Creek Watershed Council's Salmon Watch Web site at www.bearcreek-watershed.org.

A private hunting preserve near Dorris, Calif., is holding its annual junior pheasant hunt Nov. 1-2.

The Rising Sun Hunt Preserve is offering the pheasant hunt free for California kids ages 16 and under, while out-of-state residents can pay $10.25 to participate.

Anyone of age who has passed a hunter-safety course and has a California hunting license can sign up for the hunt.

All participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. A pointing dog and handler will be provided for each hunter.

For more information and registration, telephone the preserve at 530-397-3621. Hunters must have their license number to register.

For more information on the preserve, check its Web site at www.rshunt.net.

TULELAKE, Calif. — The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge will host an open house Saturday that will focus on fall bird-watching opportunities there.

From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., visitors will be able to take part in short programs aimed at improving the skills of birders and photographers. Workshops on digital wildlife photography are planned for 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., while programs on wildlife taxidermy and sculpture are set for 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Dave Menke, the refuge's recreation planner, will offer programs on how to get the most out of binoculars and spotting scopes. That program is scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The refuge straddles the Oregon/California border along Stateline Highway 161, off Highway 97 south of Klamath Falls.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.