Note: Courtesy of our Big Brother site Northwest Sportsman Magazine – WSJ forget we have Hunters out there seeking this information:
As they do each year right before fall’s big game seasons begin, the hard-working folks at ODFW have once again put together prospects for bucks and bulls across the Beaver State.
So with no further ado, here’s what to expect this season in Oregon:
Black-tailed deer on the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask wildlife management units) were treated to a fairly mild winter and an average spring with an extended period of warm, dry weather in the summer. While deer densities overall are only moderate, good survival of bucks from last year’s hunting season should give hunters a decent chance this year, especially in the Wilson WMU. There has been a lot of recent clear-cut timber harvest on state forest lands (Wilson and Trask units), so be sure to take a look at ODF lands if scouting for areas to hunt deer. Generally, deer densities tend to be highest in the eastern portions of these units.
Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), deer numbers appear to be increasing in various areas. The prevalence of deer hair loss syndrome continues to decrease. Buck numbers in most areas are fair to good. The growth of vegetation has been exceptional this year and the deer appear in good body condition. The best deer hunting opportunities are the central to eastern portions of the Alsea unit and Siuslaw unit; deer numbers decline as one gets closer to the ocean. Private industrial forestlands, state forestry and federal lands offer deer hunting opportunities. The Stott Mt – North Alsea Travel Management area provides some quality walk-in hunting opportunities.
Fire season affects access on both private and public forest lands. Most industrial landowners will restrict access, even on foot, until fire season is officially over. Hunters must contact the individual companies or check the Oregon Dept. of Forestry website for corporate closures. Most landowners were closed to access prior to the archery season last year.
In 2014, the deer bag limit for archery hunters and hunters with a disability permit is one buck deer having not less than a forked antler.
SADDLE MOUNTAIN UNIT
Some areas to look at include Davis Point, the lower Klaskanine, Lewis and Clark and Necanicum Rivers in Clatsop County, and upper Rock Creek and Clear Creek in Columbia County. While much of the unit is industrial timber land, most timber companies offer plenty of walk-in access in some areas and open gates for dawn to dusk vehicular access in others, once the fire season is over. See the newly developed North Coast Cooperative Travel Management Area map from ODFW for details.
Clear-cut habitat is increasing, with most occurring on private corporate forestlands. In recent years, the amount of partial and clearcut harvest on state forest lands has increased substantially. Areas with recent logging include the lower Wilson River, North Fork Wilson River, Gales Creek, Buck Mtn. and Camp Olson. Deer populations appear to be on the increase, with good buck to doe ratios.
On state forest lands in the western portion, look in the Trask River and lower Wilson River basins.
On the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask), elk populations are at their highest densities in the western portions of these WMUs. Bull elk hunting this year should be very good in the Wilson and Trask due to high bull survival from last year’s hunting seasons. Both WMUs have general season archery and rifle hunting opportunities. The Saddle Mountain also had good bull survival from the last four seasons.
Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), elk numbers are relatively unchanged this year and are lower than management objectives for all three units. In 2014, the observed bull ratios were above 10 per 100 cows in both the Stott Mt. unit and in the Siuslaw. The second rifle bull elk season in Siuslaw has a bag limit of one spike bull; the bull ratio there continues to be well below management objectives.
In 2014, the bag limit for disabled hunters and archers hunting in the Alsea Unit is “one bull elk,” which is a change from previous years.
Elk will be scattered throughout the units, with larger numbers of elk close to agricultural valleys. Industrial forestlands north of Highway 20 typically receive lots of hunting pressure, with young tree plantations providing good visibility and some travel management roads providing walk-in access. Forest Service lands south of Highway 34 have considerable numbers of elk, but they are much more difficult to hunt in the thick vegetation and rugged terrain. However, during archery season many industrial landowners will be closed due to fire season and state and federal lands may provide the only access for hunting. Hunters should check with landowners before hunting or check the Oregon Dept. of Forestry’s website for fire restrictions and closures.
Elk rifle hunting in this unit is all limited entry, but archery elk hunting is through a single general season; both are managed under a 3-point minimum regulation. Areas with higher elk numbers and open habitat include Davis Point, the lower Klaskanine, Young’s, Nehcanicum and Lewis and Clark River, Big Creek, and upper Rock Creek.
Bull elk rifle and archery hunting is through general seasons, and the second coast elk season has a bag limit of a “spike-only” bull. Some popular hunting areas are the lower Wilson River, Kilchis River, Cook Creek, upper North Fork Nehalem River, Standard Grade, Buck Mtn. and Camp Olson.
WESTERN TRASK UNIT
For archery elk hunters the bag limit changed for 2014 to one bull with a visible antler, and this applies to the entire unit. Like with the Wilson unit, bull elk rifle and archery hunting is through general seasons, and the second coast elk season has a bag limit of a “spike-only” bull. Some popular areas with higher numbers of elk and open habitats include Cape Lookout, Wilson River tributaries, lower Nestucca River and the Trask River.
STOTT MOUNTAIN, ALSEA UNITS
Some popular areas to hunt elk in the Stott Mountain Unit include the South Fork Siletz River, Fanno Ridge, Gravel Creek, Mill Creek, Elk Creek, Euchre Creek, and the mainstem Siletz River. Popular elk hunting areas in the Alsea include the Yachats River, Five Rivers, North Fork Siuslaw River, Big Rock Creek Road, Luckiamute River, Airlie, Burnt Woods, Grant Creek, Wolf Creek, Logsden, Pee Dee Creek, and Dunn Forest.
NORTH WILLAMETTE WATERSHED DISTRICT (Scappoose, eastern Trask, north Willamette, north Santiam wildlife management units)
Hunters heading to the North Willamette Watershed (Scappoose, north Willamette, eastern Trask and north Santiam Units) will find hunting opportunities for black-tailed bucks similar to last year. A slight increase in post-season buck ratios in the Scappoose (22 buck per 100 does) and eastern Trask (21 bucks per 100 does) could provide a few more mature bucks for hunters. While buck ratios remain stable in the north Santiam (22 bucks per 100 does) hunters willing to put in their time scouting can find some large mature bucks. Regardless of which unit you hunt, the late closure (Nov. 7) of buck season should produce good hunting opportunities in the last few weeks of the season.
Deer Hair Loss Syndrome continues to be more prevalent in the Scappoose unit but only spotty in the low elevation lands in the eastern Trask and north Santiam units.
Hunters are reminded to contact local timber companies to obtain updated access information because some roads may be closed due to ongoing logging operations or road building. In addition, some portions of Weyerhaueser property may be leased or limited to those hunters with an access permit. Please read and obey all informational signs to ensure continued access to private timberlands. The majority of properties in the Willamette Unit are privately-owned and hunters are reminded to obtain permission before hunting on those lands. Hunters headed to the north Santiam have a variety of access opportunities from federal forestland, private timberland and agricultural properties. Hunters should check out the Abiqua Basin Access Area (pdf), a cooperative access program between Longview Timber (recently purchased by the Weyerhaueser Co.), ODFW’s A&H program and the Capitol Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association.
Increased buck escapement from last season and increased fawn survival should result in improved hunting this fall. While younger age class bucks typically make up the majority of the harvest, hunters should also find a few mature bucks to keep things interesting. Hunters should be looking for habitat that has a variety of plant components and associated water sources for deer concentrations. Hunters with access to agricultural lands will find higher populations of deer. Some areas to locate deer this fall include Coal Creek, Baker Point, Peterson Point, Bacona and the upper portions of the Clatskanie River.
East Trask Unit
Deer surveys show an increase in buck ratios and opportunities for deer hunters should be good this fall in the eastern portion of the Trask Unit. Some of the best hunting is on private timberlands in the eastern portion of the WMU where timber harvest has occurred within the last three to five years. Hunters wanting to experience less road traffic and more walk-in hunting opportunities are encouraged to explore the Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area located west of Henry Hagg Lake. Some areas with good habitat include the upper portions of the Yamhill and Tualatin Rivers, Trask Mountain, Baker Creek, and Willamina Creek.
North Santiam Unit
The north Santiam Unit buck ratios dropped slightly to 22 bucks per 100 does so prospects for those hunters willing to hunt thick cover where deer concentrate should be average this season. Hunters will find a wide diversity of terrain in the unit, ranging from high elevation meadows, thick old growth forests, industrial forestlands and agricultural fields, so a variety of hunting styles can be accommodated. Whether hunters choose to still hunt, set up a tree stand, rattle antlers or conduct deer drives, scouting will be critical for success. Snow in the higher elevations of the Mount Hood National Forest will improve tracking conditions and make deer more visible. Hunters looking to stay closer to home should consider hunting on industrial forestlands where land managers are reporting deer damage to recently planted conifer stands. Some locations to consider include the upper Collawash and Clackamas Rivers, Abiqua Creek, Granite Peaks, High Rocks, Butte Creek, Molalla River and the Abiqua Basin Access Area.
North Willamette Unit
The long hunting season in the Willamette Unit should provide hunters with a very good opportunity to harvest a deer this season. Deer damage to agricultural crops remains high throughout the northern portion of the unit. Hunters are reminded that land within this unit is primarily privately owned. Hunters need to have established a good relationship with landowners to ensure a hunting opportunity. Hunters can find some public land hunting opportunities in the Willamette River Recreation Guide available at Marine Board website; many of the hunting spots are also listed on ODFW’s Hunting Access Map.
Bull elk hunting in the coastal mountains of the North Willamette District should be similar to last year in both the eastern Trask Unit and Scappoose Unit. Overall elk populations in both units are below the Management Objective and fewer antlerless elk tags will be available to hunters. In the Scappoose Unit, elk are more numerous in the timberlands of the northwestern portion of the unit. In the eastern Trask, elk are widely scattered and can be found near agricultural fields and within the private timberlands.
In the north Santiam Unit, elk populations in the Mt. Hood National Forest continue to decline due to limited forage availability. Hunters will find the majority of elk on the industrial forestlands and agricultural fields at lower elevations. Hunters should concentrate their efforts on these low elevation lands for their best chance of success. Contacting private landowners prior to the hunting season will be the key to finding these elk. Hunters are reminded to always ask for permission before entering private lands.
Harvest should continue to be dominated by younger age class bulls but there should be a few additional mature bulls available for the persistent hunter. Hunting opportunities for antlerless elk will be reduced due to the decline in the elk population over the past few years. Hunters are reminded that most of the timberland managers within this unit participate in the North Coast Travel Management Area and hunters should read and follow all posted regulations to ensure continued access. Some areas to consider include Upper McKay Creek, Green Mountain, Bunker Hill and Mount Cedara.
East Trask Unit
Bulls will be widely scattered throughout the unit and hunters are encouraged to spend time scouting in order to locate elk before the season begins. Late season antlerless elk hunting opportunities will be reduced due to the decline in the elk population. Hunters that have drawn an antlerless elk tag should still have good success if they can find elk concentrated near agricultural fields and low elevation timber stands. Hunters need to be aware of frequent changes of land ownership in the agricultural-forest fringes and always ask for permission before entering private lands. Hunters wanting to do more walk-in hunting should be looking at the Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area (pdf) west of Forest Grove as a good option. Other areas to consider include Trask Mt., Stony Mt. and Neverstill.
North Santiam Unit
Declining elk numbers within the Mt. Hood National Forest will make for poor elk hunting on public lands and hunter success should be average on lower elevation private timberlands. Hunters heading for the Mt. Hood National Forest will find elk highly scattered and difficult to locate. Scout early and often to be successful there. Places to begin include Timothy Lake, Rhododendron Ridge and Granite Peaks. At lower elevations, hunters should explore the Abiqua Basin, Butte Creek, Upper Molalla River and Eagle Creek.
SOUTH WILLAMETTE WATERSHED DISTRICT (S. Santiam, McKenzie, N. Indigo wildlife management units or parts of Benton, Marion, Polk, Lane counties)
Black-tailed deer populations remain below historic levels. There are still deer available but hunters need to hunt hard and smart in order to have consistent success. The bright spot is that surveys last fall indicate that post season buck ratios remain strong with an overall ratio of 27 bucks per 100 does in the District. This means there is the potential for hunters to take some mature bucks again this year. In 2013, three and four point bucks accounted for more than 50% of the bucks harvested in the McKenzie and Indigo units during the general archery and general rifle seasons.
South Santiam Unit
The B&B Fire area of the southeast Santiam offers one of the better places to find deer on National Forest land within the District. The burn is getting brushy which is good for deer populations but can make hunting challenging. The southwest portion of the Santiam unit is primarily private lands and hunters should verify the access policy of the particular timber landowner where they plan to hunt.
Finding deer on national forestlands in the McKenzie can be challenging. Hunters should look for areas with recent thinning projects or controlled burns. Some thinning has occurred around the North Fork of the Middle Fork Willamette and in the Scott Creek area west of the Mt Washington Wilderness. There are strong deer populations on Weyerhaeuser property in the Wendling and Fall Creek areas. Access is often limited to specific days and areas. Please call the Weyerhaeuser Access Hotline at 1-888-741-5403 for the latest on hunter access restrictions. Hunters should be aware that the Wendling Travel Management Area is in effect this year through the end of general rifle deer season, including the youth extension weekend. This project has increased hunter access with 7-day a week hunting but vehicle travel is restricted to designated open roads. Open roads will be designated with orange road markers in the field. Access may be closed or restricted due to fire danger, management needs, or timber harvest activities. Call the Weyerhaeuser Access Hotline at 1-888-741-5403 prompt #6 for updated information on access restrictions. Hunter compliance is important for this increase in access to continue into future years. The Wendling TMA has been very popular with hunters and experiences a high volume of use, especially on weekends. Hunters concerned with potential crowding can take advantage of the 7-day-a-week access to hunt mid-week. Hunters should be aware that Weyerhaeuser implemented a fee permit system for access to a portion of their land in the south McKenzie, including the Booth Kelly Mainline area. Details can be found on Weyerhaeuser’s web site. This new permit does not affect access to the Wendling TMA.
The northern portion of the Indigo unit consistently has a high buck ratio but can be challenging to hunt. The 2009 Tumblebug Fire is starting to produce forage and deer populations in the area should begin to respond. Outside the burn, hunters will want to concentrate their effort near old timber harvest units or natural openings that provide forage. Recent thinning activity in the Cottage Grove Ranger District has improved hunting conditions in the Brice and Laying Creek areas. Weyerhaeuser has a new fee access permit system in place for a portion of their ownership in the Row River area. Details can be found on Weyerhaeuser’s web page. Weyerhaeuser’s ownership in the Mosby Creek, Big River and Little River areas are not included in their fee access program but hunters need to call the Weyerhaeuser Access Hotline at 1-888-741-5403 for the latest on hunter access restrictions. Hunters may encounter radio collared deer in the Indigo Unit. Hunters are reminded to contact ODFW if they harvest a radio collared deer.
Expect elk hunting to be similar to recent years. Bull ratios have remained at or above management objective for most areas but hunters need to work hard in order to be successful. Hunters tend to have higher success rates in the coastal units than in the Cascades.
Archery, muzzleloader (200M1), and Disability Permit hunters should be reminded that antlerless elk are no longer included in the bag limit on national forest owned lands in the Cascade units. Please check the 2014 Big Game Regulations for bag limits and season dates for the units you hunt. This bag limit change did not affect lands owned by other entities such as private lands or BLM lands.
Elk populations in the Cascades appear stable to increasing on private lands but decreasing on national forestlands. The result is lower hunter success rates as hunters have a difficult time finding elk on national forestland and have limited access to private lands. All this makes pre-season scouting very important. Hunters are advised to look just outside high elevation wilderness areas for elk as the wilderness areas tend to be lacking in high quality forage. More elk are likely to be found along the higher elevation fringes where past timber management improved forage. Lower elevation private timberland is also a good place to hunt for elk when access is allowed by the landowner. Timber harvest on these lands has increased forage while the motor vehicle access restrictions in place most of the year keeps disturbance low. In areas where access is restricted to weekends only, hunters may want to hunt the private lands during the weekend and move to the national forest to hunt the weekdays.
COOS COUNTY (west Tioga, west Powers, north Sixes, southwest Siuslaw)
Overall deer populations in Coos County appear to be stable with some increase seen in the North Sixes, Powers 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 vs. public lands may limit hunter access in some areas of the Powers and Sixes Unit. 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.
Early forage production in Coos County was good in most places due to early spring rains; however an extremely dry late spring and 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 and Tioga.
Clearly 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 closures are often the best places to find elk on a regular basis. Within these areas, hunting will be best on north-facing slopes in the early seasons. 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 Oregon 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.
DOUGLAS COUNTY (Dixon, S. Indigo, NW Evans Creek, Melrose, SW Siuslaw, E. Tioga and NE Powers Units)
Deer populations remain similar to last year with large numbers on the Umpqua Valley floor and lower populations in the Cascades and Coast ranges. Fawn ratios have been good the last ten 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 clearcuts and other places that have brushy habitats. 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.
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 2013 hunting season and another mild winter increased elk herd survival. Elk numbers are greatest in the E. Tioga, mid to high elevations of the Dixon and S. Indigo and the perimeter of the Melrose units. Early in the season, some of the local private timberlands are restricting access due to the high fire danger so hunters should obtain more information on any restrictions before hunting.
JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES (Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon, and Sixes)
Black tailed deer populations in Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties remain strong. The end of last year’s season showed a good buck ratio with high fawn ratios. This season will again be dependent on weather conditions. Because of the calendar year, the season is a week later than last year, potentially providing cooler temperatures. However we have recently been observing mortalities due to Adenovirus (ADHD), a natural disease that only affects deer. It could have some impact on hunting seasons in areas where natural mortality has occurred. We would like to hear from hunters this season if they have found dead deer in the woods; call our office at 541-826-8774 or email email@example.com
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 counties’ deer population 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.
The mild winter meant less snow and more feed available throughout the winter. During our surveys, elk herds were scattered throughout the units this year, making it difficult to find elk. However, bull ratios remain good for all of the district’s units. Cascade elk season will be later this year; this could provide a cooler hunt. Archery hunters will again need to pre-scout areas near water sources to find elk. They should focus on north-facing hills, in higher elevation or areas of cooler draws where elk can retreat into during the heat of the day. Elk populations are minimal in the E. Chetco and the Applegate 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 are also lots of elk down low in and amongst private land but gaining access to these properties requires homework early in the season.
A reminder of changes that occurred last 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 unit due to declining elk populations.
BEAR AND COUGAR
North Coast Watershed District (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw wildlife management units)
The bear outlook looks fair to good for the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask). Bear densities tend to increase from north to south and from east to west, with the highest densities in the western fringe of the Trask WMU. This year’s early berry crops appear to be plentiful, so bears will most likely be out in open areas such as clearcuts during the early part of the season. During the mid-day hours, predator calling can be very productive, and is best done with a calling partner to maximize calling effort and detection of bears as they approach the area.
In the mid-coast (Alsea, Siuslaw), especially the coastal slopes, bear numbers appear to be high and hunters usually spot bears. Fewer bears are observed or harvested in the Stott Mt unit than units to the south. Vegetation including berries are early-maturing and very abundant this year. Areas where berries and other fruits are available will be very attractive to bears. Bears are more abundant closer to the coast than the Willamette Valley side of the coastal mountains. Some areas within the Siuslaw unit are popular with hunters and may be fairly crowded at times.
Recommended locations to hunt cougars are the Alsea and Siuslaw units in particular, west of Dallas, west of Dawson, and south and west of Philomath. As with bears, predator calling is by far the most effective way to harvest a cougar other than spotting one while hunting deer or elk. Most cougars are harvested by hunters during the deer and elk hunting seasons.
North Willamette Watershed District: Scappoose, east Trask, north Willamette, north Santiam wildlife management units
Bear hunting in the eastern slopes of the Coast Range should be similar to previous years. The low densities of bears combined with the heavy vegetation in the Scappoose Unit and eastern portions of the Trask Unit will make animals difficult to locate. Overall harvest in these units is low and hunters participating in other big game hunts typically take most bears. Hunters targeting bears in these units should be looking for food sources such as blackberry patches and abandoned fruit orchards that will concentrate bears.
In the northern portion of the Santiam Unit, bear hunters will find higher densities of bears and average hunting opportunities this year. Food sources appear to be improved from previous years and bears are concentrated on those available food sources, making it easier for hunters to key into their location and movement patterns.
Cougar densities remain low in the Scappoose and eastern portions of the Trask Unit and hunting success will be poor this year. Higher densities of cougar in the northern Santiam Unit should provide hunters with their best chance for success. Successful hunters in 2013 found using predator calls that mimic a prey species to be very effective. For safety, hunters should always have a partner along when predator calling. Tracking cougars through fresh snow near concentrations of deer and elk is another technique that has proven to be effective.
South Willamette Watershed District (east Alsea, north Indigo, McKenzie, south Santiam, south Willamette, northeast Siuslaw)
Bear populations are strong in the District. One of the keys to successful bear hunting is to target the food sources and hunters in this area have a variety of food sources to target throughout the season. The berry crop this year seems to be a couple of weeks early as a result of the warm, dry spring. Hunters may need to adjust their hunting locations accordingly. Many early season berries are done producing for the year and bears are already moving on to Armenian blackberries and huckleberries.
In this area, bears tend to be found throughout the Indigo and Siuslaw units. Bears are less wide spread in the McKenzie and hunters will want to look for recent bear sign to know if bears are using the area.
The district has plenty of cougar but they are difficult to hunt, especially early in the season when deer and elk are scattered. Try predator calling early in the season and then hunt those concentrated deer and elk areas once there is snow and the big game start using winter range. The vast majority of cougar taken nowadays are taken incidentally while hunting for other species. As they are widespread off the valley floor in this district, you could run into them in a variety of areas. Buy your tag prior to hunting for other species so you can take one if you see it.
Bear and cougar populations are similar to last year. The highest bear densities appear to be near the Umpqua River close to the coast. Bear hunting opportunities will be best near blackberry patches and streams in the early part of the fall season. These patches can be found in creek bottoms in clearcuts or along deactivated forest roads that are “brushing in.” Conditions this spring and summer have been very good for berry production for all berry species. So, bears will be found in places with berry stands that are isolated from human activity. In August and early September, Himalayan black berries will ripen and become bears’ primary food source. Blackberries appear to be coming on strong this year. Tree stand or ground blind hunting near Himalayan black berries can be very productive when bears are feeding on this food source. Once blackberries are no longer available, bears will turn to huckleberries. This causes bears to be somewhat dispersed. Hunting bears with predator calls may be a good method to use at that time.
Cougars are difficult to locate in Coos County. The majority of cougars are taken incidentally during deer and elk seasons by hunters who have also purchased a cougar tag. Other hunters find success using predator calls in areas where the hunter finds fresh cougar sign or areas where deer and elk concentrate. Cougars will often approach calls slowly and they are easily distracted if calling is not consistent. Many cougar hunters find electric calls to be useful tools to hunt cougars. Fawn or calf distress calls may be the best choice for hunting.
The normal late summer and early fall dry weather conditions will concentrate bears near streams where foraging will be better. Hunters are advised to concentrate their efforts in the berry patches in early morning and late afternoon. Bear numbers are highest at middle to low elevations in the Coast range with lower numbers in the Cascades.
Cougars are abundant throughout Douglas County but are a challenge to hunt. Harvest success is greatest adjacent to private low elevation lands using a predator call.
JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES
Enough rains occurred this spring that berry crops should be good. Locating these berry crops and looking for bear sign should be productive. 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 evenings. Applegate unit has the best success during the fall season, although bears are found throughout the three counties.
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.
West Region Big Game Hunting Locations
Remember you can now find many hunting locations and even scout from home using ODFW’s Oregon Hunting Access Map.
ODFW Wildlife Management Units
Oregon Travel Management Area Maps
North Coast Watershed District (Saddle Mt., Wilson, west Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw)
Along the north coast (Saddle Mt, Wilson, Trask units), Saddle Mt. is 25% state forest lands, Wilson 70% state forest lands, and Trask 50% state and federal forestlands. Hunters have access to 1.5 million acres of private forestland in the three units plus Scappoose through the A&H program’s North Coast Access Area (map available, see pg 96 of Big Game Regs for description). Within the Wilson unit, note there is a travel management area in the greater God’s Valley area on Oregon Department of Forestry lands. The Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area is open for some big game hunting; see page 98 of Big Game Regs for details. Take note of closures of certain areas including posted portions of the Beneke Tract during the Saddle Mt elk rifle and archery season and the entire Fishhawk tract, which is a refuge.
Gate closures in western portion of Tillamook State Forest will continue again this year; see their website for more information or last year’s news release (pdf).
Along the mid-coast, (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), the Siuslaw National Forest and BLM lands provide some quality deer and elk hunting opportunities. Try BLM lands in the eastern portion of the Siuslaw and state Department of Forestry lands in east Alsea unit for good deer hunting. Private industrial forestlands are usually very accessible to hunters outside of fire season thanks to the A&H program including the Stott Mt .-North Alsea TMA (map second page) (pdfs). Several travel management areas operate in the mid-coast; see page 96 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations. Please respect motorized access restrictions, which help keep bull ratios healthy, protect important wintering habitat for elk and provide areas for walk-in hunting. A permanent road closure exists in western portion of Siuslaw National Forest south of Hwy 34, and in Polk County near the old Valsetz town site. There is also a large seasonal road closure on several private industrial forestlands in the north Alsea (north of Hwy 20) and Stott Mt units. Hunters using the Siuslaw National Forest should refer to their Motor Vehicle Use Map available from the forest.
North Willamette Watershed District (Scappoose, east Trask, north Willamette and north Santiam)
The Mt Hood National Forest and most BLM lands should be open to public access, even during dry fall weather. Be aware of any public use restrictions before you hunt. Hunters should always carry a shovel, fire extinguisher, and gallon of water when hunting in case you come across a smoldering campfire. There is limited road maintenance in Mt Hood NF so be careful when negotiating over-grown or water-damaged roads. If you plan to hunt deer or elk in the Mt. Hood, take plenty of time to scout beforehand because big game are scattered and difficult to locate in heavy vegetation and rugged terrain. Hunters heading to the coastal units of the North Willamette Watershed should always check the access policies of industrial forestland owners before heading out into the field. Many of these timber companies have easily accessible hunter hotlines where you can gather the most up-to-date information available or see ODFW’s corporate closures webpage. Travel management agreements, funded by ODFW’s Access and Habitat Program, limit motorized access to protect wildlife and the environment and enable walk-in hunting: Abiqua Basin Access Area (pdf), Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area (pdf), North Coast Travel Management Area. Visit the Access and Habitat program page for more opportunities.
South Willamette Watershed District (east Alsea, north Indigo, McKenzie, south Santiam, south Willamette, Siuslaw)
The Abiqua Basin A&H project (mostly the N. Willamette Watershed District), Thomas Creek A&H (pdf) project, and the Wendling Travel Management Area A&H (pdf) project allow for hunter access during the general rifle deer season. These areas are open during the week as well as on weekends. In general private timberlands are good areas to hunt if access is allowed and it will be restricted especially during archery season. Call the Weyerhaeuser Hunter/Access Hotline for access information (541-741-5403 or 1-888-741-5403). Information regarding access to Cascade Timber Consulting lands can be obtained by calling (541) 367-2111 ext 669. On the national forest, hunters may want to try the B&B fire area that burned the Santiam Pass and Mt Jefferson Wilderness area in 2003. The burned area is recovering and producing abundant forage. In addition to the Wendling TMA, there are five additional Cooperative Travel Management Areas in the McKenzie unit. Three of these are permanent, one is September thru November, and one is three days prior to the general Cascade elk season and runs for the length of that season. See page 96-97 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations.
Coos, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine and Curry Counties
Good public hunting opportunities exist on Forest Service (Siskiyou, Siuslaw, Rogue River, Umpqua NFs) and BLM lands; some state forest lands such as the Elliott Stat Forest in Coos and Douglas counties can also be hunted. Timber company lands in the Tioga, Sixes, Rogue, Evans creek, and Applegate are sometimes open to public hunting opportunities. 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 opportunity on Coos County Forest in the north portion of the Sixes Unit and the Siskiyou National Forest in the south. The Jackson Travel Management Area (JACTMA) (pdf), which includes private forestlands, provides quality non-motorized 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 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 and online as linked above. See page 96 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations for more on locations and TMAs (travel management areas).
Hunters planning to hunt the Tioga Unit need to know the Weyerhaeuser Millicoma Tree Farm and other lands in Coos County are being managed under a new permit system for public access. While public access is allowed on a portion of Weyerhaeuser ownership in the county free of charge, most of the company’s ownership may only be accessed after purchase of an access permit or through securing a lease for some properties. Information on Weyerhaeuser’s new access permit system is available on the Weyerhaeuser website
BAKER DISTRICT (Sumpter, Keating, Pine Creek, Lookout Mt.)
Over-winter survival was good in all units with average fawn ratios of 41 per 100 adults, higher than last year. That means a higher percentage of young bucks for harvest in 2014 season. Buck ratios are still at or above management objectives (19 for Sumpter, 17 for Lookout, 19 for Keating, 16 for Pine Creek). The body condition of animals should be excellent with the early summer rains producing forage later than usual.
Like last year, elk herds in Baker County again came out of the winter in good shape. Bull ratios are at or near management objective for all units. Calf ratios are stable throughout the units, with the highest in the Lookout Unit. For the best chance at tagging an elk, get as far away from roads as possible, perhaps by hunting in one of the cooperative Travel Management Areas.
CROOK COUNTY (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly)
Recent wildfires this summer may have impacted areas that hunters have historically hunted. Please check with the appropriate land management agency to ensure that your area is open and has no restriction due to fire activity.
Deer hunters should find good prospects for a buck this fall. Buck ratios are slightly above management objective in all Prineville District units. Fawn recruitment was very good this spring, so hunters should find a good number of small bucks available for harvest. Overall, deer populations continue to be lower than desired due to habitat loss and disturbance, poaching, predation, disease and road kills.
Archery hunters are reminded that as part of the Mule Deer Initiative (MDI); the Maury unit is now a controlled deer archery unit requiring archers to possess a controlled entry buck tag. Hunters can expect to see larger, older age class bucks as a result of MDI-related tag reductions in the last three hunting seasons. Hunters should expect to see juniper cuts within the Maury unit. Remember the new travel rules for the Ochoco and Deschutes national forests that went into effect a few years ago. Pick up a motor vehicle use map so you know what’s open vs. closed.
Elk populations are just below management objectives and bull ratios are quite variable in all three units. Elk are in good body condition and highly mobile across their range. Depending on weather conditions, hunters should expect to find elk on north-slope drainages and high elevations during archery season and more scattered during rifle seasons. Elk bow hunters must also have a controlled Maury Unit deer bow tag (used/unused) to hunt elk in the Maury Unit.
The Maury and Ochoco units offer the best opportunities for bagging an animal on public land, while the Grizzly unit is mostly private land where access can be difficult. Ochoco unit rifle hunters are reminded the Rager (pdf) and South Boundary (pdf) TMA motorized vehicle restrictions will be in effect. Maps of those areas are available on ODFW’s website and from ODFW and Ochoco National Forest offices. A majority of cow elk tags have been eliminated in the Ochoco unit on public land due to declining elk populations on national forests. New private land hunts for the Ochoco unit are intended to increase elk use on the national forest and eliminate elk staying on private land throughout the seasons. GRIZZLY is approximately 70% private land so access is challenging. Public lands are mostly on the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland.
DESCHUTES DISTRICT (Upper Deschutes, Paulina, North Wagontire, Northwest Fort Rock, Metolius)
Spring 2014 fawn ratios were fair across much of the Deschutes District. Buck ratios are near, or above, management objectives in the Deschutes District units, with the exception of the North Wagontire which is below the desired buck ratio management objective. There should be decent numbers of both mature and yearling bucks available in most units relative to the population size. Management activities including controlled hunting, increased enforcement, disease monitoring and closures to protect wintering habitat have helped bring buck ratios up. Overall, deer populations continue to be significantly lower than desired due to disease, habitat loss, disturbance, poaching, predation, and road kills. Higher hunter success is expected in the Metolius unit. Hunter success should be fair in the Paulina, Upper Deschutes, North Wagontire and Ft. Rock units.
Paulina, East Fort Rock and Wagontire unit bull ratios are down slightly this year. Relative to the number of elk, branch antlered bull opportunity will be decent in the Paulina and East Fort Rock units. Herds are at relatively low densities and cover a lot of country, so hunter success is typically low.
Elk numbers continue to grow slowly in the Cascade units. The Upper Deschutes, Metolius and West Fort Rock units are managed under the general season ‘Cascade’ hunt. Elk densities are moderate, but hunter densities are high in the roaded portions of the Cascade units. For solitude, seek more remote wilderness and roadless areas in the Cascades. Persons with a “Disability Permit” are limited to a “legal bull” bag limit in these Cascade units this year.
Elk numbers in the North Wagontire (High Desert hunts) are quite variable due to the large movements these animals make. In the North Wagontire Unit, the bull ratio is below management objective. The elk are most consistent in their daily patterns near alfalfa fields. Hunters are advised to select their target animal carefully when elk are in open country and/or in large herds, to avoid wounding animals or multiple animals being hit.
GRANT DISTRICT (Murderers Creek, Northside, Desolation)
Deer populations in Grant County continue to be below management objectives. Grant County experienced a wet early fall and good green up at lower elevations, which led to above normal fawn ratios going into the winter. The winter had average temperatures but was slightly drier than usual. Adult and fawn survival over winter was good leading to good fawn ratios at the end of winter. The spring has been wet with good forage production, which led to good antler growth and fall fawn ratios. Buck ratios are hovering right around management objective. Remember the Murderers Creek-Flagtail Travel Management Area begins three days prior to archery season.
Most elk populations are at or above management objectives in the Grant district units. Calf ratios were lower at the end of the winter than they were last year. For the rest of the district, expect an average year for hunting. Forage is good because of a wet spring but conditions are beginning to dry out so elk will be focusing on areas of good forage at least early in the fall. Remember the Murderers Creek-Flagtail Travel Management Area begins three days prior to archery season.
HARNEY DISTRICT (Silvies, Malheur River, Steens Mt, Juniper, portions of Beatys Butte and Wagontire)
Deer populations are stable throughout the district due to a mild winter leading to good fawn survival over the winter. Buck ratios in all units are at or above management objective with good numbers of younger bucks.
Habitat conditions in the forested areas of the Silvies and Malheur are generally good, but the desert portions will be extremely dry unless we get some late summer or fall rains. The Buzzard Complex Fire (July 2014) burned approximately 395,000 acres in the southern portion of the Malheur River unit. The total fire perimeter represents approximately 21% of the Malheur River unit. Impacts to hunting season are not forecast to be significant. There are sufficient unburned areas within the hunt for reasonable opportunities.
Deer populations in the Beatys Butte, Wagontire, Juniper, Steens and Trout Creek portions of the Whitehorse unit are all desert units with low deer populations. These units continue to be well below management objectives, but with good fawn recruitment over the last few years there should be an increasing number of bucks in the population. Hunters should focus on the desert rims with sagebrush or bitterbrush for best success. Water is very limited in these units this year due to very little precipitation this winter, spring and summer. Archery hunters are reminded that the unit is a controlled deer archery unit requiring archers to possess a controlled entry buck tag.
Elk populations in the Silvies and Malheur River units remain at or above management objectives and bull ratios are similar to previous years with good numbers of adult bulls available. Both units offer good hunting opportunities for elk. The Egley Complex fire in 2006, which burned approximately 140,000 acres in the Silvies Unit, is generally recovering and providing good early growth for both elk and deer.
Elk densities in the Steens, Juniper and portions of Beatys Butte and Wagontire (High Desert hunts) are low. Elk movement can be quite variable, as they will travel long distances in short periods of time, making hunting difficult.
HEPPNER DISTRICT: Heppner, Fossil, East Biggs, southern Columbia Basin)
Deer in Heppner are stable to slightly increasing and buck ratios are good. Adult deer survived the mild winter well but fawn survival was down from last year. Hunters should expect decent hunting throughout the unit. A 7,000-acre fire in the Upper Wall creek/ Sunflower flat area this summer will affect deer distribution. Hunters will need to look for other areas to hunt, outside of the burn.
The Fossil unit deer numbers are also stable to slightly increasing. Public lands hunters can work the old Wheeler Burn, which is still producing a fair number of deer and is historically a good spot. The Columbia Basin and East Biggs deer herds are also stable. If you can find access to private land in the Columbia Basin or John Day River Canyon, you should expect decent hunting.
The summer has been extremely hot and dry and unless conditions change, early season hunters will want to focus on areas of good forage and water.
Hunting should be similar to last year. The population remains stable and elk numbers are slightly above our Management Objective. Bull ratios are slightly above objectives and ODFW is starting to see some older-age class bulls.
Elk hunters in the Fossil unit should see elk numbers similar to last year. Bull ratios in Fossil are above management objective, but calf ratios are still low.
KLAMATH DISTRICT (Keno, Klamath Falls, Sprague, SW portion of Ft Rock, West portion of Silver Lake, West Interstate)
In spite of good production by deer in June of 2013, fall fawn ratios were not strong going into last winter. The unusually mild winter facilitated very good overwinter survival, but the low number of fawns entering winter resulted in spring fawn ratios at maintenance levels or slightly below. For all units, buck ratios are above management objectives and a good component of older age bucks exists. Tag numbers remain unchanged in all units with the exception of the Klamath Falls Unit where tags were increased slightly due to a reasonable spring fawn ratio and high buck ratio. Hunters can expect an average year with slightly lower numbers of yearling bucks available due to lower fawn numbers in the other units. Hunters should concentrate efforts in areas with healthy understory vegetation or thinned areas that offer good forage availability adjacent to cover. Summer wildfires could change the availability of forage for big game; effects likely won’t be known until fall when biologists can survey the area.
The Cascade Mountains (that area within Klamath County west of Hwy 97) offer the best opportunities for elk hunting in the Klamath District. The Keno Unit and those areas within the Sprague and Fort Rock Units west of Hwy 97 are included in the general season Cascade elk area. Bull ratios are above management objective and some older age bulls are available. Best prospects are in the Keno and Fort Rock Units. Elk numbers are lower in the eastern part of the county, and seasons east of Hwy 97 are limited entry. Overall population trends are stable to slightly increasing in some areas but below population management objectives like much of the region. Archery hunters will have a bull only bag limit in all units with the exception of the Fort Rock unit east of Highway 97 where an either-sex bag limit is in effect.
LAKE DISTRICT (Warner, Interstate, Silver Lake, southern portions of Beatys Butte, Fort Rock and Wagontire)
Buck ratios were at or above management objective in all units. Fawn recruitment was above maintenance levels in Silver Lake and Fort Rock and below maintenance in Interstate, Warner, Wagontire and Beatys Butte. The lower fawn recruitment means there will be fewer yearling bucks in the population and therefore hunter success is expected to be slightly below average. At this time, the desert units are very dry and water is limited. Lower elevations in the forested units also are very dry. Without some late summer rains, deer will be foraging on shrubs and hunters should focus on those areas with shrubs in the understory. All of the forested units have had large wildfires which occurred after 2001. These wildfire areas have recovered and are providing good forage so hunters should concentrate effort in the burned-unburned edges. Beatys Butte, Wagontire and South Juniper are all desert units with low deer populations. Hunters in these units should focus on the desert rims with sagebrush or bitterbrush for best success. Remember archery season in the Warner unit is limited entry.
Bull ratios are at or above objectives but elk densities are very low. Elk numbers are generally higher in the Silver Lake and Fort Rock units then in units further south. All rifle elk seasons are limited entry with a bull-only bag limit. Archery seasons are general with a bull-only bag limit in Silver Lake, Interstate and Warner. Fort Rock unit is a general season with an either sex bag limit. Hunters wishing to hunt elk in Warner are required to possess a limited entry deer tag.
MALHEUR DISTRICT (Whitehorse, Owyhee and Beulah Units)
Drought conditions prevailed during the summer of 2013 contributing to low fawn survival from birth until fall. However, record rainfall in September for the north half of the unit resulted in exceptional fall green-up. Drought conditions quickly returned for a very mild winter, as a result overwinter survival was excellent.
In the Beulah unit, improved fawn ratios (44/100 does) will result in a slight bump in the population and more yearling bucks being available this fall. Post-season buck ratios were at management objective last year, so older age class buck numbers should be similar to recent years. Much of the best deer hunting is on public land near the edge of the Malheur National Forest. Other areas within the National Forest that have had recent fires or logging activity can also be productive. With the drought conditions, there will likely be fewer deer in the desert portions of the unit.
For the Owyhee Unit, wildfire and weed invasion continues to have an impact on the ability of this unit to produce deer. This is the first year since 2009 that fawn recruitment has been sufficient to maintain the population. For 2013, hunter success was 4% and there was still a good proportion of mature bucks in the harvest. However, it is a very challenging unit to hunt as deer are widely scattered in the unit and there is no one area with consistently good deer numbers.
East Whitehorse Unit is another difficult unit to hunt if you are not familiar with the unit. Deer numbers are low and they can be widely scattered. The major fires of 2012 and the ongoing drought will continue to affect deer hunting in this unit this season.
Trout Creek Mountains: The Holloway Fire burned most of this unit in 2012, except for the Oregon Canyon and Sherman Field areas. Hunter success has remained higher than the 15-year average since the fire, likely due to the loss of some hiding cover. Since the fire, the higher elevations have had decent vegetation recovery despite the drought conditions and the deer seem to have summered well. It is still unclear how this deer herd will respond to this fire over the longer term but last year’s mild winter supported good fawn recruitment.
E Beulah is an elk de-emphasis zone. Tag numbers are high with numerous long seasons to keep the elk population under control. Success rates are poor without access to private lands. Whitehorse and Owyhee units are part of the High Desert hunt area. Whitehorse unit has very few elk. An increasing number of elk have been observed in the northwestern portion of the Owhyee unit. These elk are often observed in large groups and very nomadic which makes them difficult to locate consistently.
MID-COLUMBIA DISTRICT (Hood, White River, Maupin, West Biggs)
The West Biggs Unit has good numbers of deer and a strong component of mature bucks. Much of the unit is private. The Deschutes and John Day canyons are great public places to find weary bucks, especially later in the season.
The Maupin Unit has great buck ratios and should provide good opportunities at older bucks for those hunters with access to private lands. There is some limited public access within the Deschutes canyon. Having a good map to ensure you know where you are is essential.
Deer hunting in the White River unit was excellent last year, and is expected to be good again this year. Buck ratios have rebounded in the last couple years, and overall deer numbers are on the rise. Hunters should focus on high elevation habitats for the best opportunity to harvest a mature buck.
Hunters headed for the Hood Unit should pay close attention to land ownership and fire restrictions. Some of the best hunting in the unit is found on private timberlands, and hunters should always check with these landowners to find out the most recent regulations. Hunting in the Hood is always better later in the season, or with the onset of early fall weather.
DEER MIGRATION STUDY: ODFW is conducting a buck deer study in the southern portion of the White River Unit to improve its knowledge of local deer herds. ODFW would appreciate if hunters could report any sightings of these deer. Radio-collared deer in this unit are legal to shoot but return collar and identify location of the kill to The Dalles District office (3701 W 13th Street, The Dalles, OR 97058, tel. 541-296-4628).
Elk numbers in the White River and Hood units are near the management objective and will be found scattered in small groups throughout the units. Herd numbers have been slightly increasing annually with fair bull numbers. However, heavy cover makes harvesting a bull challenging. Most mature bulls are found at higher elevations, especially during the first season. Many hunters choose to hunt the second of the two general seasons. The second season is longer, with a greater chance of winter weather to improve hunting conditions and success. Bull elk hunting in the Maupin and West Biggs also is general season, but the animals are almost exclusively found on private lands. Gaining landowner permission in that area could result in a successful hunt. The White River Wildlife Area has fair numbers of elk and is open to public hunting; remember fire restrictions are likely in effect during archery season.
UMATILLA DISTRICT: (Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, Ukiah, eastern portion of Heppner, northern Columbia Basin)
Overall, hunting should be above average, especially in the Ukiah Unit. The winter and early spring produced a relatively normal snow pack with early summer forage persisting for some time, helping deer enter the summer in good condition. Ukiah and Walla Walla are good places to get a buck as numbers are good. West Mt Emily has traditionally had bigger bucks, but some recent population declines have reduced buck numbers. Buck ratios for the Walla Walla, West Mt. Emily and Ukiah were up over the previous year at 21, 16 and 21, respectively.
Mt Emily and Walla Walla continue to offer very high quality branch bull hunting for those hunters lucky enough to have a tag. Heppner is another bright spot; calf ratios are up. However, it will be a tough year for spike hunters in the Walla Walla and Mt. Emily Units due to what biologists believe is continued high predation. The Ukiah unit has improved in the past few years where ODFW has been thinning cougar populations. Calf ratios have been higher in the last three years than in recent years and will provide more spike bulls for harvest. The unit is not at desired recruitment levels yet, but is moving in the right direction for more spike bull harvest.
UNION DISTRICT: (Starkey, Catherine Creek, East Mt. Emily, portions of Sled Springs, and Wenaha)
Union County had good deer survival over the past winter. This should be reflected in bucks available to hunters this fall. Deer appear to be in excellent condition due to high quality forage produced by a wet spring. Buck ratios are up slightly in Catherine Creek, about the same as last year in Starkey and up slightly in East Mt. Emily. The Catherine Creek unit continues to be well under our target population objective; East Mt. Emily and Starkey are at or above population target levels. Buck ratios (bucks per 100 does) are 15 in the Starkey, 17 in Catherine Creek and 17 in East Mt. Emily Hunt units.
Elk hunting should be about average in the Starkey unit with adequate calf survival to supply the unit with plenty of harvestable yearling bulls this fall. Catherine Creek unit hunter success should be up due to a slightly elevated population and good calf survival. Prospects for the East Mt. Emily unit are expected to be average due to stable calf survival. Bull ratios are down slightly in all units.
Elk in the Starkey and Catherine Creek units came through the winter in relatively good condition. Starkey is just below population management objective and Catherine Creek is well above the objective. Bull ratios (bulls per 100 cows) are 8, 9, and 5 respectively for the Starkey, Catherine Creek and east side of the Mt. Emily units. These bull ratios are down from the previous year. Calf ratios (calves per 100 cows) are 21, 31 and 21 respectively for the Starkey, Catherine Creek and east side of the Mt. Emily units.
WALLOWA DISTRICT (Wenaha, Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, Snake River, Minam, Imnaha)
Despite a relatively mild winter, deer numbers are still low in all units with this past year’s fawn survival up slightly from the previous year, but still lower than desired. Predation on adults and fawns continues to hold deer populations well below management objective levels. Hunters can expect to see fewer yearling bucks this year, but adult buck ratios have remained stable in all units. There should still be opportunity for older age class bucks for hunters willing to spend the time and effort.
Elk numbers continue to increase slowly in most units. The past year’s district calf survival was low, averaging 15 calves per 100 cows. Predation on elk calves continues to hold calf recruitment at low levels. Hunters can expect to see fewer yearling (spike) bulls this fall. Most units have good numbers of branched bulls and hunting success should be good. The Wenaha Unit population is still below management objective level, and spike hunters can expect low success.