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Information booths set up in Eastern Oregon hunting zones

Rogue Valley hunters heading east for mule deer hunts will find information booths beginning Wednesday where hunters can gather up-to-the-minute information on fire restrictions, off-road driving and other tidbits.

At most of the locations, hunters can help themselves to free gun locks and a cup of coffee.

The hunter booths are organized by the Central Oregon Fire Prevention Cooperative, the Klamath County Fire Prevention Cooperative and the Mid-Columbia Fire Prevention Cooperative.

They are designed to ensure that hunters not only comply with fire-season restrictions, but also to ensure those camping in the woods do so in a manner that won't lead to catastrophic wildfires.

Though some restrictions have been lifted after September rains, many areas still sport bans on open fires and off-road driving.

In La Pine and Prineville, where many local hunters head this time of year, booths will be at Ray's Food Place stores.

The booths will be staffed through Oct. 2, the eve of the hunt.

Firefighters say hunters should telephone ahead to better prepare themselves for the conditions they'll find.

To check fire restrictions on the Deschutes National Forest, telephone 541-383-5300; for the Ochoco National Forest, telephone 541-416-6500; and for the Malheur National Forest, telephone 541-575-1321.

Hunters can also check Central Oregon's fire restrictions on the Web at www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon/fire/.

Hunters with controlled tags for the Maury Unit mule deer buck hunt have a chance to win a Browning A-Bolt .325-rifle as incentive for taking part in a survey through the state's Mule Deer Initiative, which is meant to bolster Eastern Oregon deer populations.

Five state wildlife-management units are included in the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife initiative, but the Maury unit, east of Prineville, is the only one offering a prize to survey participants.

In addition to filling out the questionnaire, successful hunters are asked to provide a tooth to the ODFW from a buck they kill.

Information from the surveys will help ODFW make better mule deer management decisions within the affected units.

The rifle, which was donated by the Prineville chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association, will be raffled off. Based on tag sales, participants have about a 1-in-400 chance of winning, according to the OHA.

To enter the raffle, Maury unit hunters need to fill out the questionnaire provided with their tag and return it to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. They should also include a tooth if successful, but they don't have to be successful to be eligible to win. Questionnaires must be postmarked by Nov. 15 to qualify.

The drawing is set for Dec. 1, during a meeting of the Ochoco Elk Hunters, Prineville Chapter of the OHA. The winner need not be present to win.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's new "My Hunter Information" Web page gives hunters a point-and-click way for checking all sorts of updated information on season closures and their own hunting information.

The page, which is found under the Hunting Resources section of the ODFW's Web site, allows hunters to check for information ranging from their controlled-hunt preference points to the status of their mandatory reporting requirements.

Hunters need to enter their Hunter/Angler Identification number, their birth date and last name to access the secure site.

Once signed in, they can see preference points, controlled hunt application status, draw results, season closures, tag sale deadlines and results reporting status of their tags.

The new program was made possible by the ODFW's new online license sales system, says DeAnna Erickson, ODFW license services manager.

The My Hunter Information page can be found at https://or.outdoorcentral.us/or/hunterreport.

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