Oregon 2017 Rifle Buck Deer Opener Results, Hunting Tips

Reports are a bit sparse coming out of last weekend’s rifle buck opener across Oregon, but ODFW notes 50 percent success at Summer Lake, slow hunting in the southwest corner of the state, and just fair to poor success as expected in winter-struck Wallowa County.

TIM ENGLISH WAS AMONG OREGON HUNTERS WHO WERE SUCCESSFUL WITH THE START OF RIFLE DEER SEASONS. THE PRINEVILLE HUNTER BAGGED THIS 20-INCH-WIDE MULE DEER ON A CONTROLLED TAG IN THE MAURY UNIT. HIS VERY PROUD DAUGHTER SHONDA FORWARDED THE PIC TO NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

The agency has compiled those details, as well as herd forecasts and tips for hunting different parts of the state in their weekly Recreation Report.

Here are pertinent details straight from the ODFW document, which can also be found here:

NORTH COAST

Buck deer season on the north coast opened Sept. 30, and goes through Nov. 3 this year. Recent rains have quieted down the woods, so hunting conditions should be OK at least. Estimates of buck deer escapement surveys from last year point to very good numbers of buck available for this fall, although deer populations on the north coast are generally only moderate. Hunting should improve as the season progresses into late October, when bucks should be in the rut, and losing some of their famed wariness.

CASCADES

Deer – The Western General Deer Season opened Sept. 30. The Cascade Buck Area is open Sept. 30 – Oct. 13 and Oct. 21 – Nov. 3. The Coast Buck Area is open Sept. 30 – Nov. 3. Hunters should check the hunting regulations on page 44 of the 2017 Oregon Big Game Hunting Regulations for valid Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) and bag limits. Disability permit holders should refer to page 93 for WMUs allowing antlerless harvest.

Average fall weather is expected for opening week and may include sporadic rain. Look for deer in early seral habitat in the morning and evenings.

If you don’t mind getting a little wet, bucks are more likely to be on the move under the security of rain and fog. Private timber company lands can be productive places to hunt if the landowner is allowing hunting access. Deer can be found early in the morning and late in the afternoon feeding along mid-elevation clear-cuts or thinned areas that have varied densities of young shrubs and trees, which provide forage and hiding cover. During the day, deer may take to older timber patches or thick stands of young trees.

Many deer will stay in the big timber all day eating mushrooms. Look for scat in the big timber that resembles sandwich plate sized diarrhea. If you find this type of scat, it indicates that the deer are eating mushrooms in the big timber and hunters should adjust their strategy accordingly. Additionally, elk will leave dinner plate sized diarrhea scat. Remember these areas for the upcoming elk seasons.

COOS COUNTY

Rifle Deer – Season opened Sept. 30. Deer numbers are in line with long term trends and hunters can expect to find animals across the county. Riparian areas, clear-cuts, and agricultural lands can all be productive. In the mornings and evenings. When deer become more active, they may move on to brushy hill slopes and grassy meadows to feed. Fire precautions levels have been reduced due to the weather but hunters should check with local land managers to ensure access rules and regulations. For the opening weekend of the season weather conditions were good with some rain and cool conditions.  Hunters should target time periods when these conditions occur as they tend to make deer more active.

DOUGLAS COUNTY

Deer – General Western Deer Rifle Season started Sept. 30. Deer populations are similar to last year, with low levels at upper elevations and high population levels on the Umpqua Valley floor. Most low elevation lands are privately owned so hunters are reminded to obtain permission before hunting on those lands. While fire season is still in effect, some industrial timber companies have opened their lands to hunting as long as the Industrial Fire Protection Level stays below level 2. Check conditions and landownership restrictions before entering industrial timber lands.

JACKSON, JOSEPHINE, CURRY COUNTIES

Deer: Western Rifle Deer season will continue until Oct. 13 in the Dixon, Rogue, and Evans Creek units at which time it will close for the Cascade elk season.  It will then reopen in those units starting Oct. 21.The Applegate and Chetco units will remain open throughout the entire season. Hunter success has remained steady for the past few years so expect a season similar to that of 2016. Opening weekend of the 2017 season was slow, however with the cold weather forecast harvest rates should increase this upcoming weekend. Remember that deer in the Dixon, Rogue, and Evans Creek unit typically are at high elevations during the early fall and as winter approaches they migrate down to lower elevations; however there are resident deer on the valley floor year round. The early rains this September may have started to get the deer moving, however with a warm opening weekend forecast it will most likely still be best at higher elevations. In the Applegate and Chetco units deer that are present at higher elevations usually only move when pushed out by severe weather. Remember when heading out this season that some areas here in Southwest Oregon are still closed due to firefighting activity. The southern half of the Sky Lakes Wilderness is now open again, and new areas are opening back up as the weather gets cooler. Most private timberland is still closed until fire season is over. Remember to visit the US Forest Service or Oregon Department of Forestry websites for more information before heading out this weekend to make sure you are in an open area.

HOOD RIVER, WASCO, SHERMAN COUNTIES

Rifle Deer continues until Oct. 11 for most hunts. Opening weekend reports are consistent with anticipated lower adult deer numbers throughout the West Biggs, Maupin, White River and Hood units. On a positive note, hunters are reporting seeing a good number of fawns.  Hunters should expect to see less deer than previous years, with less young bucks on the landscape due to summer drought and hard winters.

West Biggs buck ratios are the highest in the John Day Canyon, as fewer hunters are able to access much of the landscape. Deer hunting in the White River unit was poor last year, and is expected to be again this year with buck ratios below management objective. Hunting pressure can be high on the White River Wildlife Area, with less resident deer available.  Try hunting higher elevations up toward the Badger Creek Wilderness area or south around the 48.  Hood unit hunters should search around open timber company lands, big timber ridges, or old burned areas.

Rainy or high pressure weather systems typically increase deer activity and the opportunity to spot a buck.

PRINEVILLE/OCHOCO WILDLIFE DISTRICT 

Rifle deer openED Sept. 30. Buck ratios remain above management objectives in the unit but the harsh winter did take a toll on fawns so expect to see fewer yearling bucks.

DESCHUTES DISTRICT

Rifle deer opened Sept. 30. There should be decent numbers of both mature and yearling bucks available in most units relative to the population size. Tough winter conditions resulted in a drop in over-winter survival but buck ratios are decent.

White River Wildlife Area

Rifle Deer – Sept. 30-Oct. 11; Most deer remain scattered throughout their summer range at higher elevations within the Mt. Hood National Forest. The heavily migratory black-tailed deer do not typically migrate onto the wildlife area until later in the fall, but some resident bucks can be found at lower elevations within the wildlife area. Despite recent rains, the wildlife area is still very susceptible to wildfire. Please do not start warming fires outside of designated camping areas, and be vigilant about putting fires out before leaving your campsite.

KLAMATH COUNTY

RIFLE DEER opened Sept. 30. Deer populations in Klamath County are stable or slightly decreasing. An above average winter likely contributed to lower fawn survival overwinter, which will effect hunter success on yearling bucks this hunting season. Yearling bucks generally comprise over half the buck harvest.

LAKE COUNTY

Rifle deer opened Saturday, Sept. 30. Plant growing conditions have been favorable this year, so hunters should expect tall grasses and noisy stalking conditions. Those same factors have also led to good horn growth this year and good body condition across most of the County. Expect fewer 1-2 year old bucks on the landscape this year as a result of poor fawn recruitment in the last 2 years.

SUMMER LAKE WILDLIFE AREA

Controlled buck mule deer season opened on September 30th.  Six hunters checked-in and reported the harvest of 3 buck mule deer.

A majority of the wildlife area is within the Wagontire Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) and a small portion is within the Silver Lake WMU (lands west of OR Hwy. 31).

A majority of wildlife area land in the Silver Lake WMU was burned in the Ana Fire in the early July that removed a majority of the vegetation.

The use of centerfire rifles and pistols for controlled buck mule deer hunting in the Wagontire HMU portion of the wildlife area is prohibited.  Muzzleloader and shotguns with slugs or buckshot is permitted.

All hunters will need to obtain and have a daily hunting permit in their possession while in the field. Free daily hunting permits are available self-serve in the lobby at Headquarters.

Check out is mandatory and can be accomplished by filling out and dropping the “B” portion of the permit off in check-out boxes found at major access areas.

Buck mule deer can be found scattered across the wildlife area, especially around agricultural areas and homestead sites on the north end.

Posted Refuges are closed to hunting. And, on September 30th began the closure of all entry into that portion of the wildlife area south of Thousand Springs Lane (Lake County Road 4-17), excluding the Foster Place.  No entry will be allowed into this area until 4:00 am on Opening Day of waterfowl season on October 7th.  Access on open roads leading to and including campgrounds is permitted.

Also, big game hunting, east of Hwy. 31 will close on Friday Oct. 6,

HARNEY COUNTY

Rifle Deer seasons opened Sept. 30. Though deer populations are below management objective, they are stable to increasing thanks to efforts to improve habitat and manage predators. Habitat conditions are generally good and there is abundant water this year which will disperse deer.

MALHEUR COUNTY

Deer Eastern Oregon rifle season opened Sept. 30 and runs through Oct. 11. Younger age class bucks will be limited and hard to find in the Beulah and Northern portion of the Owyhee hunt units due to severe winter conditions last year.

BAKER DISTRICT

Rifle Deer controlled season opened Sept. 30. Baker Co experienced an extremely severe winter with high deer mortality. Tags were reduced earlier in the year and hunters will encounter fewer yearling bucks.

GRANT DISTRICT

Rifle Deer controlled season opened Sept. 30. Deer populations are down a little because of harsh weather last winter but there are still some good hunting opportunities. Look for areas that have had recent wildfires such as Aldrich Mountain, Flagtail Mountain, Silver Butte, and Canyon Creek.

HEPPNER DISTRICT

Rifle deer controlled season opened Sept. 30. Fawn survival was poor last year due to drought and a rough winter so expect to see fewer yearling bucks. Hunters should focus in areas of good water and forage.

UMATILLA DISTRICT

Rifle deer controlled season opened Sept. 30. Deer prospects look good thanks to good buck ratios. Even with our harsh winter with cold temperatures and record snowfall, fawn survival was nearly average.

UNION COUNTY

Rifle deer controlled season opened Sept. 30. Hunters may encounter fewer yearling bucks this season due to a decrease in fawn survival over the winter. Controlled hunt deer tags were reduced by 30% as a result of the harsh winter.

WALLOWA COUNTY 

Notice: Hancock Timber lands in the Sled Springs unit are now open for camping, but no campfires or briquette barbeques are allowed. You can check latest status at their Hotline 541 962 2184.

Buck Deer: Controlled season opened Sept. 30. Buck hunters had only fair to poor success as mule deer numbers have been below management objective and last winter’s deep snow further reduced numbers. Cooler, wet weather during this past week improved hunting conditions, but animals were still scarce.  Hunters are reminded to check USFS regulations on camp/cook fires.

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