FORT ROCK UNIT MULE DEER. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

2011 Oregon Deer, Elk Hunting Prospects

(EDITOR’S NOTE: With Oregon’s rifle deer season starting tomorrow, I thought I’d repost this roundup of prospects from ODFW)

Big tip of the cap to the cat herders, err, hard-working public affairs folks at ODFW who have managed to round up a huge heap o’ information on fall deer and elk prospects across Oregon just in time for the bulk of hunting seasons.

It’s information that general season hunters can put to good use if you haven’t planned your 2011 hunts while permit holders might double check it for your rifle seasons in the eastern half of the Beaver State.

You can find the original material on ODFW’s Hunting Resources site here, or see it below in slightly different order (i.e, reorganized by region and then first deer followed by elk and then hunting locations for both species in that region).

To wit:

NORTHWEST REGION

DEER

North Coast: Saddle Mt., Wilson, western Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw Wildlife Management Units

Black-tailed deer on the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, Trask wildlife management units) survived a relatively cold and wet winter and spring. 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. Generally, deer densities tend to be highest on the eastern portions of those units.

Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), deer numbers appear to be increasing slightly. In many areas deer seem to be showing fewer signs of Deer Hair Loss Syndrome. Buck numbers in most areas are fair to good. Growth of vegetation has been exceptional this year providing food for deer, but reducing visibility. The best deer hunting opportunities are the central to eastern portions of the Alsea and Siuslaw units; deer numbers decline as one gets closer to the ocean. Both private industrial forestlands, state forestry and federal lands offer deer hunting opportunities. Fire season may affect access on both private and public forest lands. Hunters should check with landowners or the Department of Forestry for information on forest closures.

2010 Hunter Harvest Statistics: Total hunter harvest and success rate was 1,320 and 16% in the Alsea, 366 deer and 15% in Stott Mt, 847 deer and 18% in Saddle Mt, 386 deer and 16% in Wilson, 955 deer and 15% in Trask, 817 deer and 17% in Siuslaw.

Saddle Mountain Unit

Some areas to look at include Davis Point, the lower Lewis and Clark River and Big Creek in Clatsop County and upper Rock Creek and Clear Creek in Columbia County.

Wilson Unit

Clear-cut habitat is limited but increasing, with most occurring on private corporate forestlands. In recent years, the amount of partial and clear cut harvest on state forest lands has increased substantially. Areas with recent logging include the lower Wilson River, North Fork Wilson River, Gales Creek, Spruce Run and Camp Olson.

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. Some areas to consider in the eastern Trask Unit are the upper portions of the Yamhill River and upper Willamina Creek. Hunters looking 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. On state forest lands in the western portion, look in the Trask River basin.

YAMHILL BASIN BUCK. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

Scappoose, eastern Trask, north Willamette, north Santiam Units

Hunters heading to the North Willamette Watershed (Scappoose, north Willamette, eastern Trask and north Santiam Units) will find mixed opportunities for black-tailed bucks this year. A drop in post-season buck ratios in the Scappoose and eastern Trask units will provide fewer mature bucks for hunters while the number of mature bucks has remained steady in the north Santiam (34 bucks per 100 does).

Unusually cool and rainy spring weather conditions increased the level of Deer Hair Loss Syndrome in the Scappoose unit black-tails but had little effect in the eastern Trask and north Santiam units.

Hunters are reminded to contact local timber companies to obtain updated some roads may be closed to access due to ongoing logging operations or road building. Please read and obey all informational signs to ensure continued access to opportunities. 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, a cooperative access program between Longview Timber, ODFW’s A&H program and the Capitol Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association.

Scappoose Unit

Slightly lower buck escapement from last season and a minor decrease in fawn survival should result in average hunting this season. While younger age class bucks typically comprise 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, and the upper portions of the Clatskanie River and Kenusky Creek.

Eastern Trask Unit

Despite surveys that show a slight decrease in buck ratios, opportunities for deer hunters should be good this fall in the eastern portion of the Trask Unit. In general, deer will be concentrated by more visible near forest clearings that are 5-8 years old and agricultural fields along the forest edge. Hunters wanting to do more walk-in hunting should be looking at the Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area west of Forest Grove as a good option. 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 remain high (34 bucks per 100 does) and prospects for those hunters willing to hunt thick cover where deer concentrate should be good. 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, which accommodate a variety of hunting styles. 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 forest lands where land managers are reporting deer damage to recently planted conifer stands. Some locations to consider include the upper Collawash and Clackamas Rivers, Ripplebrook, Abiqua Creek, Timothy Lake, upper Eagle Creek 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 and 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, pages 1-14 and pages 15 – 39, published by Oregon State Parks and Oregon State Marine Board; many of these are listed on ODFW’s Hunting Access Map.

2010 Hunter Harvest Statistics: Total harvest and success rate was 673 deer and 16% Scappoose, 1,593 deer and 11% Santiam, 2,307 deer and 21% Willamette, 1,320 deer and 16% Alsea, 366 deer and 15% Stott Mt, 817 deer and17% Siuslaw.

East Alsea, north Indigo, McKenzie, south Santiam, south Willamette, northeast Siuslaw Units

Surveys last fall indicate that post season buck ratios remain strong with an overall ratio of 25 bucks per 100 does in the District. There is the potential for hunters to take some mature bucks again this year. Dry weather conditions in 2010 made for difficult hunting during the rifle season and that was reflected in lower success rates for many units. Archery hunters fared better and saw slight increases in success rate in this area. If weather conditions are favorable, hunters should have a little better luck this year than last.  District Biologist Brian Wolfer observed many deer during his surveys and says the best places to hunt are those with a variety of habitats. “Areas with a variety of forest age classes—with food and cover—are doing well,” he said. He continues to observe less deer on the national forests due to lower habitat diversity, with the exception of areas that have been heavily thinned or recently burned.

MOLALLA BASIN BLACKTAIL. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

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 unit is primarily private lands and hunters should verify the access policy of the particular timber landowner where they plan to hunt.

McKenzie Unit

Finding deer on the national forest lands 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 new Wendling Travel Management Area is in effect this year through the end of general rifle deer season. This will result in an increase in hunter access with 7-day a week hunting but vehicle travel will be 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 if this increase in access is to continue into future years.

North Indigo

The 2009 Tumblebug Fire is starting to produce forage and deer populations in the area should begin to respond. Hunters will have the best success around the edges of the burn or in areas where the fire was patchy. Deer numbers have started improving on private timberlands southeast of Cottage Grove with recent timber harvest activity. Please call the Weyerhaeuser Access Hotline at 1-888-741-5403 for the latest on hunter access restrictions.

ELK

On the north coast (Saddle Mt., Wilson, Trask), elk populations continue to be robust, with the 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 escapement (e.g. survival) from last year’s hunting seasons. Both WMUs have general season archery and rifle hunting opportunities. The Saddle Mountain also had high bull escapement from 2010 seasons.

Along the mid-coast (western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw), elk numbers are relatively unchanged this year: however, the observed bull ratio in the Alsea unit was slightly below management objective of 10 bulls per 100 cows. The ratio is above 10 in the Stott Mt unit. 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.

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.

2010 Hunter Harvest Statistics: Total hunter harvest and success rate was 535 elk and 10% in the Alsea, 210 elk and 10% in Stott Mt, 878 elk and 21% in Saddle Mt, 579 and 17% in Wilson, 817 and 15% in Trask, 176 and 11% in Siuslaw.

Saddle Mountain Unit

Elk rifle hunting in this unit is all limited entry, but archery elk hunting is through a single general season, and is managed under a 3-point minimum regulation. Areas with high elk numbers and open habitat include Davis Point, the lower Lewis and Clark River, Big Creek, lower Necanicum River and upper Rock Creek.

Wilson Unit

Some popular hunting areas are the lower Wilson River, Kilchis River, Cook Creek, upper North Fork Nehalem River, Standard Grade, Spruce Run and Camp Olson.

Western Trask Unit

Some popular areas with high 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, Bark Creek, Grant Creek, Wolf Creek, Logsden, Pee Dee Creek, and Dunn Forest.

Scappoose, eastern Trask, north Willamette, north Santiam Units

WESTERN OREGON BULL ELK RUB. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

Bull elk hunting in the coastal units of the North Willamette District should be best in the eastern Trask Unit due to the stable bull escapement during the 2010 hunting season. In contrast, the high vulnerability of elk in the Scappoose Unit has continued to cause bull ratios to drop below the management objective of 10 bulls per 100 cows. With the decreased bull escapement from the 2010 hunting season, prospects should be below average this season in the Scappoose Unit. 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. 

While populations of elk in the Mt. Hood National Forest continue to decline due to limited forage opportunities, more elk can be located in the industrial forestlands and agricultural fields at lower elevations of the northern Santiam Unit. 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.

Scappoose Unit

Poor bull escapement combined with average calf recruitment should mean average bull hunting this fall. Harvest should continue to be dominated by younger age class bulls but there should be a few mature bulls available for the persistent hunter. Hunting for antlerless elk should be similar to last year with just a few adjustments in tag numbers. 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 popular areas include Cedar Creek, Baker Point, Elk Creek and Buxton.

East Trask Unit

Stable bull escapement from last hunting season will likely mean an above average opportunity for bull elk hunters this fall. 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 hunters 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 west of Forest Grove as a good option.

North Santiam Unit

Declining elk numbers within the Mt. Hood National Forest will make for poor elk hunting on public lands while elk 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 here. Places to begin include Timothy Lake, Rhododendron Ridge and Granite Peaks. At lower elevations hunters should explore the Abiqua Basin, Butte Creek and Eagle Creek.

2010 Hunter Harvest Statistics: 472 elk and 17% in Scappoose, 280 elk and 6% in Santiam, 120 elk and 15% in Willamette, 535 and 10% in Alsea, 219 elk and 10% in Stott Mt, 176 and 11% in Siuslaw.

East Alsea, north Indigo, McKenzie, south Santiam, south Willamette, northeast Siuslaw Units

Expect elk hunting to be similar to recent years. Bull ratios have remained 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.

Elk populations in the Cascades appear stable to increasing on private lands but decreasing on National Forest lands. The result is lower hunter success rates as hunters have a difficult time finding elk on National Forest land and have limited access to private lands. All this makes pre-season scouting very important. District Biologist Brian Wolfer advises hunters going to the National Forest to look just outside high elevation wilderness areas for elk. “The wilderness areas tend to be lacking in high quality forage so you will find more elk along the higher elevation fringes where past timber management improved forage,” he said. Lower elevation private timberland is also a good place to hunt for elk when 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.

NORTHWEST REGION HUNTING LOCATIONSRemember you can now find many hunting locations and even scout from home using ODFW’s Oregon Hunting Access Map. 

ODFW Wildlife Management Units

Saddle Mt., Wilson, west Trask, western Stott Mt., western Alsea, north Siuslaw Units

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. 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 but 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.

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). 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. Permanent road closures exist in western portion of Siuslaw National Forest south of Hwy 34, in Polk County near the old Valsetz town site, in the Hadsall Creek area near Mapleton. 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 obtain a Motor Vehicle Use Map.

Scappoose, east Trask, Stott Mt., Willamette, Santiam Units

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. 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, Upper Tualatin-Trask Travel Management Area, Stott Mt.-Alsea Access Area, North Coast Travel Management Area. Visit the Access and Habitat program page for more opportunities.

East Alsea, north Indigo, McKenzie, Santiam, Willamette, Siuslaw Units

The Abiqua Basin A&H project (mostly the N. Willamette Watershed District) and Thomas Creek A&H 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. Call the Weyerhaeuser Hunter/Access Hotline for access information 541-741-5403 or 1-888-741-5403. 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. There are five 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.

SOUTHWEST REGION

DEER

Douglas County (Dixon, South Indigo, Northwest Evans Creek, Melrose, Southwest Siuslaw, East Tioga and Northeast Powers Units)

Deer populations are stable to slightly increasing with good numbers on the Umpqua Valley floor with lower levels in the Cascades and Coast ranges. Fawn ratios have been good the last nine years, showing a general increase in overall deer recruited throughout the county. Buck ratios have increased enough that 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. In addition, before going hunting, all hunters should 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 and near water and green up area.

Coos County (west Tioga, west Powers, north Sixes, southwest Siuslaw Units)

Deer populations in Coos County appear to be improving similar to what has been seen over the past few years. Fawn production and survival appears to be fairly good possibly due to a decreased prevalence of deer hair loss syndrome. Buck survival during last season appeared to be fairly high as well. Hunting prospects are good in all units but there is more accessible public land in the Tioga Unit. The sixes and Powers Units have good deer populations but access to them is on private land.  Hunters should contact timber companies and ranch owners to ask for hunting access. 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, Joesphine, Curry counties (Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon, and Sixes Units)

For the last two years, deer numbers have showed a slight decrease from previous years although buck ratios remain to appear high. 20 randomly placed game cameras along a game trail in the Rogue unit this summer showed a good ratio of deer. Most deer will be in high elevations through September. Hunter success is generally weather-dependent with rain and snow bringing the best hunting. 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 alter in the season. Don’t forget to check fire restrictions before heading out especially early in the season.

GRANTS PASS BLACKTAIL. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

2010 hunter statistics: Total harvest and success rate 835 deer and 24% Applegate, 455 deer and 25% in Chetco, 847 deer and 29% in Evans Creek, 1,341 deer and 14% in Rogue, 995 deer and 25% Dixon, 523 deer and 26% in Sixes, and 336 deer and 21% in Powers.

ELK

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 above average. February aerial surveys found excellent bull and calf ratios plus populations above or slightly below our management objectives. Good escapement from the 2010-11 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. Hunters are encouraged to look for good concentrations of elk near or at the edge of recent fire areas especially on USFS lands.

Coos County (west Tioga, west Powers, north Sixes, southwest Siuslaw Units)

Forage production in Coos County was good in most places due to rain that occurred in the spring. Elk are expected to be in good physical shape due to the fact that 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 appears to have slipped below objective in the Tioga. Surveys in February of this year indicate those populations improved some but still have a ways to go to get back up to the target. ODFW will be taking steps to accomplish this.

SIUSLAW UNIT BULL. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

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 in minimized. Road closures 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 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 and feed quality improves.

Curry, Jackson, Josephine counties (Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Tioga, Dixon, and Sixes Units)

Due to bad weather conditions, a lower number of elk were found during our spring elk surveys, and coastal surveys were done. With what we did see, elk bull ratios remain average. It is important for hunters to pre-scout areas for elk. Early in the season, elk are likely to be found in higher elevation or areas of cooler draws where they can retreat into during the heat of the day. Known water sources or wallows can be good locations to start your scouting activities. The best elk hunting comes with rain and snow later in the season, particularly frequent snows that allow better tracking. Elk populations are minimal in the E. Chetco and the W. Applegate though some can be found in select drainages in Applegate. 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.

2010 hunter harvest statistics: Total harvest and success rate n/a for Applegate, 49 elk and 21% in Chetco, 48 elk and 11% in Evans Creek, 199 elk and 6% in Rogue, 85 elk and 5% Dixon, 301 elk and 50% in Sixes, and 109 elk and 26% in Powers.

SOUTHWEST REGION HUNTING LOCATIONS

Explore Oregon’s Hunting Access Map for hunting locations.

ODFW Wildlife Management Units

Good public hunting opportunities exist on Forest Service (Siskiyou, Siuslaw, Rogue River, Umpqua NFs) and BLM lands; some state forest lands can also be hunted. In Sixes, there is public hunting opportunity in Coos County Forest in the north portion of the unit and the Siskiyou National Forest in the south. The Jackson Travel Management Area (JACTMA), 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).

HIGH DESERT REGION

DEER

Mid-Columbia District (Hood, White River, Maupin, West Biggs Units)

The Hood Unit offers good hunting prospects for those that put in the time to hunt the thick cover; this is where hunters will find the older-age class-bucks. Rains during the season will improve hunting conditions, putting bucks on the move during daylight hours. Older clearcuts are also a favorite place for deer in the Hood Unit.

The West Biggs appears to have good numbers of deer, with excellent recruitment last spring and a good component of mature bucks. The Deschutes and John Day canyons can be great places to find weary bucks, especially later in the season.

DESCHUTES CANYON MULE DEER. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

The Maupin unit should provide good opportunities at older bucks for those hunters with access to private lands.

Buck numbers were at management objectives in the White River Unit and fawn numbers were up. Weather permitting, this should provide for increased harvest opportunities. Cooler, wetter spring and summer conditions have kept some deer at lower elevations than they are typically found. Look for security areas away from roads and other hunters for your best chances at a nice buck.

BLACK-TAILED DEER 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. 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, tel. 541-296-4628).

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Total archery and rifle hunter harvest and success rate was 119 deer and 19% in Hood, 678 deer and 27% in White River, 159 deer and 47% in Maupin, 745 deer at 52% in Biggs.

Prineville District (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly Units)

Deer hunters should find improved prospects for a buck this fall. Buck ratios improved in all three units, and coupled with the good fawn survival, this should provide for improved hunter success. The abundant spring rains have produced favorable forage conditions and filled empty reservoirs, allowing deer to be more widely scattered across their range. The deer are also entering the fall in good body condition and hunters can expect to see more yearling bucks this year. Archery hunters are reminded that as part of the Mule Deer Initiative; the Maury unit is now a controlled unit requiring archers to possess a controlled entry buck tag. Rifle buck tags are at the same number as last year for all three units.

The MAURY unit is approximately 65% public lands, with BLM managing most of the public lands available to hunters. The unit does include the Maury Mountains managed by the Ochoco National Forest. The Gerry Mountain, S. Fork Crooked River, Sand Hollow Well and Hampton Butte Wilderness Study Areas are on BLM lands and offer challenging and more roadless hunting opportunities.

OCHOCO unit is approximately 50% Ochoco National Forest, 10% BLM, with the remainder private. The South Boundary and Rager Travel Management Areas (TMAs) are in this unit on Ochoco National Forest lands. Motorized vehicles are allowed, but are restricted to designated roads. Maps for both TMA’s are available at portal signs and at Ochoco National Forest and Prineville ODFW offices. Hunters observing illegal vehicle use or any other violations are encouraged to use the TIP hotline (1-800-452-7888).

GRIZZLY is approximately 70% private land so access is challenging. Public lands are comprised mostly on the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland.

GRIZZLY UNIT MULE DEER. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

Deschutes District (Upper Deschutes, Paulina, North Wagontire, Northwest Fort Rock, Metolius Units)

Buck ratios are near, or above, management objectives in all Deschutes District units. There should be decent numbers of mature and yearling bucks available in all units relative to the population size. Measures 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 and disturbance, poaching, predation, and road kills. As a result, hunter success will probably be lower than average this year in the Paulina, Upper Deschutes, North Wagontire and Ft. Rock units. Hunter success is expected to be above average in the Metolius unit.

Please be careful when hunting around hay and agricultural fields. ODFW Deschutes District has received reports of problems with arrows getting cut up and baled in hay fields. These sharp pieces of metal in hay bales can kill horses and cows if they ingest them. ODFW has also received reports of problems with rifle hunters pointing loaded rifles into fields while workers in the fields.

MULE DEER STUDY: ODFW is conducting a mule deer study in most Central Oregon Wildlife Management Units to improve its knowledge of local deer herds. Hunter participation in this study is needed. Remember to return one tooth of any deer harvested in all Deschutes District units in the envelope provided. Radio-collared deer in these units are legal to shoot (if they are legal for the bag limit in that particular hunt) but please return collar and identify location of the kill to ODFW Bend office. Information about the deer will be provided back to the hunter.

2010 Hunter Harvest Success Rates: 314 deer and 13% in Upper Deschutes, 520 deer and 18% in Paulina, 60 deer and 23% in Wagontire, 250 deer and 8% in Fort Rock, 338 and 32% in Metolius.

Klamath District (Keno, Klamath Falls, Sprague, SW portion of Ft Rock, West portion of Silver Lake, West Interstate Units)

Fawn recruitment varied across the district and was generally higher in southern units including Keno and Interstate, while Klamath Falls and Sprague had average fawn recruitment. To the north in Fort Rock and Silver Lake, fawn recruitment was lower than previous years. For most units, buck ratios are above management objective. Tag numbers were increased in Keno and Interstate and hunters should find good numbers of bucks. Tag numbers remained unchanged in Klamath Falls and Sprague and hunting success should be about average. Reduced fawn recruitment in Silver Lake and Fort Rock required a reduction in buck tags so hunters can expect less yearling bucks available this fall.

FORT ROCK UNIT MULE DEER. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Hunter harvest and success rate was 259 and 22% in Keno, 353 deer and 33% in Klamath Falls, 66 deer and 16% in Sprague, 250 deer and 8% in Fort Rock, and 344 deer and 18% in Silver Lake.

Lake District (Warner, Interstate, Silver Lake, southern portions of Beatys Butte, Fort Rock and Wagontire Units)

Deer hunters in the Warner and Interstate units should find improved prospects for a buck this fall due to a combination of buck ratios at or above management objectives and good fawn recruitment. The Silver Lake and Fort Rock units buck ratios are at or slightly below management objective and fawn recruitment was poor requiring a reduction in buck tags, hunters can expect fewer yearling bucks available this fall. Abundant late spring rains resulted in excellent forage conditions this summer. If we receive late summer rains, forage quality will persist and deer will be scattered at all elevations. Deer will be foraging on shrubs and hunters should focus on those areas with shrubs in the understory. Some recommended locations for hunting are the 2002 Tool Box fire in Silver Lake where forage is recovering. Focus on the fringe of the fire for best results. Forage on the Grassy Fire area of the Fremont National Forest in North Warner and the Burnt Willow Fire in South Warner are also recovering nicely. Beatys Butte, Wagontire and South Juniper are all desert units with low deer populations. Hunters should focus on the desert rims with sagebrush or bitterbrush for best success. Archery seasons are general with a buck only bag limit with the exception of Warner which is limited entry buck only hunting.

MULE DEER STUDY: ODFW is conducting a mule deer study in this area to improve its knowledge of local deer herds. Hunter participation in this study is needed. Remember to return one tooth of any deer harvested in the Interstate, Silver Lake, Fort Rock and Wagontire units in envelope provided. Radio-collared deer in these units are legal to shoot (if they are legal for the bag limit for a particular hunt) but please return collar and location of the kill to ODFW.

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Hunter harvest and success rate was 405 deer and 28% in Interstate, 344 deer and 18% in Silver Lake, 133 deer and 45% in Beatys Butte, 250 deer and 8% in Fort Rock and 60 deer and 23% in Wagontire

Harney District (Silvies, Malheur River, Steens Mt, Juniper, portions of Beatys Butte and Wagontire Units)

Deer populations are stable due to excellent fawn survival last spring. The wet spring experienced throughout southeast Oregon in 2011 has benefited most desert species. Buck ratios are at or above management objective with good numbers of younger bucks. Habitat conditions are generally good and abundant water sources this year may disperse game populations more widely. The Egley Complex fire in 2006, which burned approximately 140,000 acres in the Silvies Unit, is generally recovering and providing good early stage habitat for both deer and elk. Travel in the burned area is still restricted however, and hunters should contact the Emigrant Creek Ranger District at (541) 573-4300 for a map of road closures

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 466 deer and 26% in Silvies, 935 and 41% in Malheur River, 140 deer and 36% in Steens Mt, 94 deer and 31% in Juniper, 133 deer and 45% in Beatys Butte.

Malheur District (Whitehorse, Owyhee and Beulah Units)

Winter conditions in the Beulah unit were much more severe than normal resulting in lower fawn and adult survival. This will translate into fewer yearling bucks being available this fall and a decline in hunter success as much of the harvest in this unit is comprised of yearlings. 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 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.

In the rest of the district, deer populations are stable to slightly declining due to continued low recruitment, but buck ratios are at or above management objective. Previous tag reductions in the Owyhee have resulted in an increase in the proportion of mature bucks in the harvest. However it is still a very challenging unit to hunt. Deer are widely scattered in the unit with no one area with consistently good deer numbers.

Trout Creek Mountain and Whitehorse Units deer populations remain below management objective and harvest rates should be comparable to recent years.

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 194 deer and 43% in Whitehorse, 286 deer and 41% in Owyhee and 1,479 deer and 48% in Beulah.

ELK

Mid-Columbia District (Hood, White River, Maupin, West Biggs Units)

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. Bull numbers are fair, but heavy cover makes harvesting one a challenge. Most mature bulls are found at higher elevations, especially during the first season. Most 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 a general season, but the animals are almost exclusively found on private lands. Unless a hunter knows a landowner in that area, it will be very difficult to find a place to 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.

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Total hunter harvest and success rate was 17 elk and 4% in Hood, 96 elk and 6% in White River, 62 elk and 34% in Maupin, 65 elk and 18% in Biggs.

Prineville District (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly Units)

Elk numbers are below management objectives in all three units with bull ratios below management objectives in the Ochoco and Grizzly units. However, elk are in good body condition and are fairly scattered throughout the units. 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 and South Boundary TMA motorized vehicle restrictions will be in effect. Maps of those areas are available on site and from ODFW and Ochoco National Forest offices. Elk tag numbers were decreased in the Ochoco and Grizzly units as a result of low population estimates and lower bull ratios.

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Total hunter harvest and success rates were 82 elk and 26% in Maury unit, 416 elk and 19% in Ochoco unit, 217 bulls and 16% in the Grizzly unit.

Deschutes– Upper Deschutes, Paulina, north Wagontire, north Fort Rock, Metolius Units)

Paulina and Fort Rock units have good bull ratios. Relative to the number of elk, branch antlered bull opportunity will be good in the Paulina and East Fort Rock units. Herds are at relatively low densities and 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.

Elk numbers in the North Wagontire (High Desert hunts) are quite variable due to large movements these animals make. 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 in large herds to try and avoid wounded animals, or multiple animals being hit.

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Total hunter harvest and success rate was 52 elk and 8% in Paulina, 77 elk and 31% in Wagontire, 82 elk and 4% in Upper Deschutes and 34 elk and 4% for the Metolius.

Harney District (Silvies, Malheur River, Steens Mt, Juniper, portions of Beatys Butte and Wagontire Units)

Elk populations remain at or above management objectives and bull ratios are similar to previous years with good numbers of adult bulls available. Both the Silvies and Malheur River units offer good hunting for elk. Habitat conditions are generally good, but more abundant water sources this year could disperse game populations. 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. Travel in the burned area is still restricted however, and hunters should contact the Emigrant Creek Ranger District for a current road closure map.

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 559 elk and 19% in Silvies, 421 elk and 21% in Malheur River, 14 elk and 12% in Steens Mtn.

Malheur District (Whitehorse, Owyhee and Beulah Units)

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.

Klamath District (Keno, Klamath Falls, Sprague, SW portion of Ft Rock, West portion of Silver Lake, West Interstate)

The Cascades offer the best opportunities for elk hunting. The Cascade Area west of Highway 97 is a general season tag. Bull ratios are above management objective and some older age bulls are available. Elk numbers are lower in the eastern part of the county, and seasons east of Highway 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.

Lake County District (Warner, Interstate, Silver Lake, southern portions of Beatys Butte, Fort Rock and Wagontire)

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 with the exception of Fort Rock, which is either sex, and Warner, which requires elk hunters to possess a limited entry deer tag to hunt the unit.

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Total harvest and success rate was 4 elk and 6% in Warner, 10 elk and 2% in Interstate, 8 elk and 2% in Silver Lake.

HIGH DESERT HUNTING LOCATIONS

Explore hunting locations through the Oregon Hunting Access Map.

ODFW Wildlife Management Units

Deschutes District (Metolius, Upper Deschutes, Paulina, north Wagontire, and north Ft. Rock

Hunters can utilize BLM lands as well as Deschutes, Ochoco, and Fremont-Winema National Forest lands in these units. The Fox Butte and Walker Rim TMA’s will be in effect three days prior through the controlled buck deer seasons and the Timbers and Spring Butte TMA’s are in effect year round.

Mid-Columbia District (Hood, White River, Maupin, West Biggs Units)

Mt Hood National Forest, White River and Lower Deschutes wildlife areas offer big game hunting. Public access in the Maupin and West Biggs Units are limited to the Lower Deschutes Wildlife Area and BLM lands in the Deschutes and John Day River Canyons.

Prineville District (Maury, Ochoco, Grizzly)

Hunters should contact the Prineville BLM or the Ochoco National Forest for maps that show public lands in these units. Remember, the South Boundary and Rager Travel Management Areas (TMAs) have motorized vehicle restrictions effect. Maps showing these TMAs are available from federal agencies, ODFW, and from portal signs on-site.

Harney District (Silvies, Malheur River, Steens Mt, Juniper, portions of Beatys Butte and Wagontire Units)

The county is mostly BLM land. Silvies contains portions of the Ochoco and Malheur national forests. Check the Malheur National Forest Web site for the latest information on closures and fire restrictions.

Some private lands in Harney County are open thanks to the Access and Habitat Program, contact ODFW Hines office (541) 573-6582 for more information.

Klamath and Lake Counties (Klamath Falls, Keno, Sqrague, Silver Lake, Interstate, Warner, Fort Rock Units)

A high proportion of these counties are publicly-owned which results in few hunting access issues. The Klamath Falls unit may be an exception to this trend, and hunters are warned to make sure they have secured access to hunt before entering private lands. Although most of the forest habitats are managed by the Fremont-Winema National Forest, there are extensive tracts of private timber lands. The majority of these properties are open to public access hunting, although hunters are strongly encouraged to respect these lands as access is a privilege. While these landowners appreciate the value of public access hunting, continued public use of these lands may be in jeopardy if off-road vehicle use, vandalism, and littering continue. Lakeview BLM manages most of the desert habitat. Hunters can also hunt the Summer Lake Wildlife Area for some (archery mule deer and Silver Lake and Wagontire unit controlled hunt buck mule deer hunts with a few restrictions. Klamath Wildlife Area is closed to deer hunting.

Malheur District (Whitehorse, Owyhee and Beulah Units)

Much of the area is BLM land. Beulah contains portions of the Malheur National Forest.

ODFW’s Riverside Wildlife Area to open to hunting for deer, elk and upland game. The use of motor vehicles on the area is limited to the main entrance road near the community of Riverside and the Long Siding Road near Juniper Basin, though this road is not maintained, is suitable only for high-clearance 4WD vehicles and is impassable during wet weather. Use the road and bridges at your own risk.

There are many Access and Habitat projects opening private lands to hunters too.

NORTHEAST REGION

DEER

Baker District (Sumpter, Keating, Pine Creek, Lookout Mt. Units)

Over-winter survival was lower than average due to the hard long winter. Buck ratios are still at or above management objectives, although hunters may notice a reduced number of small bucks. The body condition of animals should be excellent with the above average spring and early summer rains.
2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Total hunter harvest and success rate was 887 deer and 46% in Sumpter, 329 deer and 53% in Keating, 224 deer and 33% in Pine Creek, 203 deer and 34% in Lookout Mt.

Grant District (Northside, Desolation, southeast Heppner, northwest Beulah Units)

Deer populations in Grant County continue to be below management objectives due to poor habitat and predation. The John Day valley escaped the heavy sustained snow that neighboring districts experienced and overall the winter was about average. The district did have a long and wet spring again this year which should keep forage conditions on the summer range suitable later into summer. Fawn survival was good this spring, suggesting better over-winter survival. Buck ratios are hovering right around management objective.

Remember the Murderers Creek-Flagtail Travel Management Area begins three days prior to archery season this year (rather than three days prior to rifle season).

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Total hunter harvest and success rate was 537 deer and 27% in Northside, 412 deer and 22% in Desolation, 608 deer and 35% Murderers Creek.

Heppner District (Heppner, Fossil, East Biggs, southern Columbia Basin Units)

Deer in Heppner are stable to slightly increasing and buck ratios are good. Adult deer survived the winter well and fawn survival was similar to last year.  A 60,000-acre fire that burned four years ago along the breaks of the North Fork John Day along with a long wet spring should provide good forage and good hunting.

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.

FOSSIL UNIT MULE DEER BUCK. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

The Columbia Basin and East Biggs deer herds are stable. If you are lucky enough to have access to private land in the Columbia Basin or John Day River Canyon, you can expect decent hunting.

2010 Deer Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle hunter harvest and success rate was 918 bucks and 25% in Heppner, 694 bucks and 34% in Fossil, 745 bucks and 52% in Biggs, 893 bucks and 49% in Columbia Basin.

Umatilla District (Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, Ukiah, eastern portion of Heppner, northern Columbia Basin Units)

Hunting should be average. The winter was dry, but was followed by an extremely wet spring. Conditions were favorable when fawning occurred and deer came through to mid-summer in excellent condition. Ukiah and Walla Walla are good places to get a buck as numbers are good. West Mt Emily has the bigger bucks. While deer continue to persist in good numbers in the Blue Mountains, the deer factory that was the Tower Fire (Ukiah unit) is coming to an end; populations are shrinking naturally along with forage.

2010 hunter harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 159 deer and 40% in Walla Walla, 467 deer and 33% in Mt Emily, 516 deer and 24% in Ukiah.

Union District: Starkey, Catherine Creek, East Mt. Emily, portions of Sled Springs, and Wenaha Units

Deer in Union County survived the winter reasonably well this year. It’s likely to be an average to good year for hunter success. Deer appear to be in excellent physical condition due to high quality forage produced by a very wet spring. Buck ratios have risen since last year and are close to management objective levels.  Fawn survival through the winter was 69% or higher in the units mentioned below. 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 12 in the Starkey, 17 in Catherine Creek and 16 in East Mt. Emily Hunt units.

2010 hunter harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 236 deer and 28% in Catherine Creek, 293 deer and 15% in Starkey, and 467 deer and 33% in Mt Emily.

Wallowa District (Wenaha, Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, Snake River, Minam, Imnaha Units)

Deer numbers are still low in all units with this past years fawn survival lower than the previous year. We have had great spring and summer weather, with good moisture amounts producing an abundance of forage, so deer will be entering the fall in good body condition. 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.

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Total harvest and success rate was 352 deer and 41% in Wenaha, 258 deer and 39% in Chesnimnus, 128 deer and 30% in Snake River, 225 deer and 23% in Imnaha, 886 deer and 44% in Sled Springs, 293 deer and 36% in Minam.

ELK

Baker District (Sumpter, Keating, Pine Creek, Lookout Mt. Units)

Bull ratios are up from last year. Calf ratios are average throughout the units, with the high being in the Pine Creek 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.

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Total hunter harvest and success rate was 316 elk and 17% in Sumpter, 171 elk and 19% in Pine Creek, 107 elk and 25% in Lookout Mt, 192 elk and 30% in Keating.

Grant District (Northside, Desolation, southeast Heppner, northwest Beulah Units)

Most elk populations are at or above management objectives in the Grant district units. Because of a long wet spring, elk will likely be widely distributed this hunting season and found at all elevations. Desolation is still experiencing reduced calf recruitment and this year will be the first year that PDP and archery harvest will be “bull only” in that unit.

Remember the Murderers Creek-Flagtail Travel Management Area begins three days prior to archery season this year (rather than three days prior to rifle season).

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 259 elk and 15% in Northside, 319 elk and 11% in Desolation and 445 elk and 15% in Murderers Creek.

Heppner District (Heppner, Fossil, East Biggs, southern Columbia Basin Units)

Hunting should be similar to last year with the exception of potentially fewer spikes due to a drop in calf ratios in the Heppner unit from 33 per 100 cows last year to 27 per 100 cows this year. However, bull ratios are slightly above objectives and ODFW is starting to see some older-age class bulls. Bull ratios in Fossil are above management objective but calf ratios are still down.

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 601 elk and 15% in Heppner and 470 elk and 31% in Fossil.

Umatilla District (Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, Ukiah, eastern portion of Heppner, northern Columbia Basin Units)

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, Mt. Emily, and Ukiah Units due to what biologists believe is continued high predation.

2010 hunter harvest statistics: Total hunter harvest and success rate was 110 elk and 24% in Walla Walla, 155 elk and 22% in Mt Emily, 335 elk and 12% in Ukiah, 51 elk and 22% in Columbia Basin.

EASTERN OREGON ELK. (RUGER PHOTO CONTEST)

Union District: Starkey, Catherine Creek, East Mt. Emily, portions of Sled Springs, and Wenaha Units

Elk hunting should be about average in the Starkey unit with a similar number of calves and a few more bulls than last year. The Catherine Creek unit hunter success should be up due to an increase in the elk population in the lower elevations of the unit. Prospects for the East Mt. Emily unit are expected to be similar to last year.

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. Surveyed bull ratios (bulls per 100 cows) are 10, 12, and 7 respectively for the Starkey, Catherine Creek and east side of the Mt. Emily units. These bull ratios are generally up from the previous year.  Calf ratios (calves per 100 cows) are 19, 26 and 22 respectively for the Starkey, Catherine Creek and east side of the Mt. Emily units. Calf ratios for these units are similar to the previous year.

2010 hunter harvest statistics: Rifle/archery hunter harvest and success rate was 177 elk and 22% in Catherine Creek, 530 elk and 12% in Starkey, and 155 deer and 22% in Mt Emily.

Wallowa District (Wenaha, Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, Snake River, Minam, Imnaha Units)

Elk tend to survive winters better, and so have fared better than deer in recent years. The district’s calf survival has improved the past few years and prospects have improved for bull hunters. Most units should have good numbers of branched bulls and hunting success should be good. The Wenaha Unit had improved calf survival for the second year, but population levels are still below management objective levels. There are some large, mature bulls available for a few lucky tag holders.

2010 Hunter Harvest statistics: Hunter harvest and success rate was 87 elk and 14% in Wenaha, n/a in Sled Springs and Chesnimnus, 52 elk and 17% in Snake River, 181 elk and 21% in Imnaha.

NORTHEAST REGION 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

Baker District (Sumpter, Keating, Pine Creek, Lookout Mt. Units)

Baker District includes the Wallowa Whitman National Forest and Vale District BLM land. Hunters can also access many private lands thanks to the A&H program. Remember travel management area regulations are in effect for Dark Canyon, Patrick Creek, Melhorn, Lake Fork-Dutchman, Okanogan-Fish, Summit Point and Eagle Creek.

Grant District (Northside, Desolation, southeast Heppner, northwest Beulah Units)

Remember the Flagtail-Murderers Creek TMA begins three days prior to archery season this year. Hunters will find many good public land hunting opportunities in Grant County, including the Malheur National Forest and P.W. Schneider Wildlife Area. Roadless areas in the North Fork John Day Wilderness, Desolation and Northside travel management areas are good places to big game hunt. Remember the Camp Creek and Murderers Creek/Flagtail travel management areas are in effect, meaning no vehicle access in certain areas to protect wildlife and habitat and promote quality hunting. Please respect all road closures, gated or not.

Heppner District (Heppner, Fossil, East Biggs, southern Columbia Basin Units)

Hunters will find most public lands opportunities in the Heppner and Fossil units and can also access private land through the Heppner Regulated Hunt Area, and the Lost Valley Regulated Hunt Area thanks to ODFW’s A&H Program. The old Wheeler burn in the Fossil unit would be a good bet for deer hunters.

Umatilla District (Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, Ukiah, eastern portion of Heppner, northern Columbia Basin Units)

Hunters without access to private land can utilize the Umatilla National Forest and ODFW’s Bridge Creek and Columbia Basin (Irrigon and Willow Creek) wildlife areas.

Union District (Starkey, Catherine Creek, East Mt. Emily, portions of Sled Springs, and Wenaha Units)

The Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla National Forests and ODFW’s Ladd Marsh and Elkhorn Wildlife Areas near La Grande are open to the public for hunting. In Catherine Creek, Starkey and Wenaha units, Forest Capital (old Boise Cascade) forestlands are open to public hunting, thanks to the A&H program. Also open through A&H: nearly 20,000 acres in Union and Baker Counties. Remember the Dry Beaver-Ladd TMA will be in effect meaning no vehicle access in certain areas to protect wildlife and habitat and promote quality hunting. Seven other TMAs exist in Union County and people are asked to respect all road closures, gated or not.

Wallowa District (Wenaha, Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, Snake River, Imnaha Units)

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Wenaha Wildlife Area provide public hunting opportunities. Remember several travel management restrictions are in effect in the district including the Noregaard, Whiskey Creek and Shamrock TMAs in Sled Springs, the Chesnimnus TMA in Chesnimnus and the Grouse Lick Creeks in Imnaha during bull season. In the Snake River unit, the Lord Flat Road north of Warnock Corral and the Summit Ridge Road north of PO Saddle will not be open to motor vehicles.

2 thoughts on “2011 Oregon Deer, Elk Hunting Prospects”

  1. Your state would have more mature bulls and a better bull/cow ratio if you had point restrictions thoughoout the season, rather than allowing anything with an antler shot at in the first season. Might take a clue from Colorado.

  2. But then how would we compete with California for most mismanaged wildlife in the nation?

    (It’s pathetic here, but fits the desire for state leadership to eradicate hunting.)

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