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Elk, Habitat, Hunters In 16 Washington Counties Benefit From $233K In RMEF Grants

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $233,373 in grant funding for nearly two dozen conservation projects in Washington that enhance wildlife habitat, assist research and promote hunting heritage.

FUNDS FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION WILL HELP TREAT 300 ACRES OF THE OAK CREEK WILDLIFE AREA WITH FIRE. (RMEF)

The grants benefit 4,966 acres across Asotin, Clallam, Chelan, Columbia, Cowlitz, Douglas, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, King, Pierce, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Snohomish and Yakima Counties. There are also two projects of statewide benefit.

“Forest management techniques like thinning, prescribed burning and noxious weed treatments improve habitat in Washington for elk and many other species,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This grant funding will help with those efforts and supply research dollars to benefit elk management.”

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 621 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington with a combined value of more than $121.5 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 471,547 acres of habitat and opened or secured public access to 125,245 acres.

Here is a sampling of the 2017 projects, listed by county:

Asotin County—Apply noxious weed treatment across 700 acres on the W. T. Wooten and Chief Joseph Wildlife Areas within the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex to keep weeds in check on year-long elk range (also benefits Garfield and Columbia Counties).

Clallam County—Thin 203 acres of elk summer range in the Upper Sitkum Watershed on the Olympic National Forest where overly dense forests led to documented low body condition scores for elk as well as downward trends in pregnancy rates.

King County—Provide funding to acquire one new GPS collar and refurbish four others for a study to determine if elk are using new habitat areas created by the Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management Group as well as determine a better herd population estimate and seed 50 acres of a newly cleared area in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

Yakima County—Apply prescribed fire to 300 acres on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area as part of a larger, wide-scale effort to benefit wildlife by rejuvenating native grasses, forbs and shrubs as well as mitigating wildfire hazards.

Go here for a complete project listing.

Washington project partners include the Colville, Gifford Pinchot and Olympic National Forests, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and private landowners as well as sportsmen, government, civic and other organizations.

2 October Keeper Sturgeon Days On Part Of Lower Columbia OKed

EDITOR’S NOTE, 2:25 P.M., 10-11-17: Updated to reflect decision on fishery

This afternoon, Columbia sturgeon managers approved opening much of the lower river for two days of keeper fishing later this month.

The Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife will open retention Saturday, Oct. 21, and Thursday, Oct. 26, from Bonneville down to the Wauna powerlines.

STURGEON ANGLERS MAY SEE TWO RETENTION DAYS IN LATE OCTOBER ON THE COLUMBIA BETWEEN BONNEVILLE AND WAUNA IF A PROPOSAL COMES TO PASS. DENNIS JAMES CAUGHT THIS ONE NEAR I-5 SEVERAL SEASONS BACK WHILE FISHING WITH FRIEND RODNEY STALLARD. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Daily limit is one 44- to 50-inch-fork-length white sturgeon.

“Although predicting the results of a sturgeon retention fishery in this area is confounded by multiple issues (lack of recent fishery data, higher abundance of legal-sized fish, a modified size slot, and unknown effort), staff views the … fishery proposal as a reasonable approach for re-opening this fishery,” a joint ODFW-WDFW fact sheet out for today’s decision states.

In a subsequent press release, ODFW noted it’s the first keeper sturgeon fishery in these waters since 2013. The Columbia below the dam was closed for retention from 2014 through 2016 due to a dip in the population.

There’s an estimated “legal abundance” of about 165,000 sturgeon below the dam this year, enough to provide 6,235 for harvest, including 1,245 above Wauna.

As for the other 4,990, 1,245 were reserved for the commercial fleet and 3,235 or 108 percent of the guideline for the area were caught during June’s sport fishery in the estuary below Wauna.

Just under 750 are also available in the lower Willamette, and Oregon managers say they looked at how to hold a retention fishery there.

But keeping it within the quota would “require multiple constraints such as a noon closure,” a restriction on the boat fishing area, opening it when the Columbia was also open and an even skinnier slot limit, they say, so they’re not recommending a fishery.

 

Washington Easing Hatchery Steelhead Limit Restrictions On Southeast Waters

Washington fishery managers are partially scaling back steelhead bag limit restrictions on waters in the southeast corner of the state.

As of Sunday, Oct. 15, daily limits will increase from one to two hatchery fish on the Walla Walla, Touchet, Tucannon and Grande Ronde Rivers.

GRANDE RONDE AND SOUTHEAST WASHINGTON ANGLERS WILL SOON BE ABLE TO RETAIN TWO HATCHERY STEELHEAD A DAY AS DAM COUNTS INDICATE MORE ARE RETURNING THAN FEARED JUST TWO MONTHS AGO. (GREG OLENIK)

However, the Snake will remain catch-and-release only from the mouth up to Clarkston. But between there and the Couse Creek boat ramp, near the mouth of of Hells Canyon, the river will also offer a two-hatchery-steelhead limit, though any longer than 28 inches must be released.

That’s to protect expected low returns of B-runs headed back to Idaho rivers.

Above Couse Creek, any hatchery steelhead can be retained, daily limit two.

Idaho managers are also mulling easing restrictions.

Going into this year’s season, Washignton’s fishing regs pamphlet listed a three-hatchery-steelhead limit on most of the rivers, except the Snake where fall season was yet to be determined.

Though this year’s A-run of steelhead is still well below average, it’s not looking as critically poor as it was in midsummer, when dam counts suggested we might only see 54,000 back.

That led Washington, Oregon and Idaho managers to chop bag limits or switch to catch-and-release-only fishing in the Snake and its tributaries.

But since then more have been counted at Bonneville Dam, and the preseason forecast of 112,100 has just about been met and will probably be exceeded.

“These measures will help ensure that sufficient numbers of wild and hatchery fish return to their natal streams,” said Chris Donley, WDFW regional fisheries manager. “But we’ll continue to monitor the steelhead run over the coming months, and either curtail the harvest of steelhead if needed, or provide more harvest opportunity if possible.”

Along with bag limit tweaks, the mandatory steelhead retention rule will be waived on Washington waters, but anglers will need to quit for the day after keeping two.

All-ages Archery Tourney Coming Up At New Junction City Bow Park Oct. 28

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

ODFW will host the state’s first S3DA Triple Crown archery competition on Saturday, Oct. 28 at from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at its new Junction City Archery Park, 94230 Hwy 99N.

YOUNG ARCHERS TAKE AIM. ODFW IS HOSTING OREGON’S FIRST SCHOLASTIC 3-D ARCHERY TOURNAMENT LATER THIS MONTH, AND REGISTRATION IS OPEN NOW. (ODFW)

The competition is open to all ages and the cost is $10. Participants need to bring their own equipment (no broadheads or crossbows) and will shoot in three different formats: indoor target, outdoor target and 3D. Register on the event page archeryevents.com (https://www.archeryevents.com/event.cfm?id=6603 ) Mandatory check-in for all participants will be at 9 a.m. and shooting will begin at 10 a.m.

“This will be a fun competition opportunity for families and friends, and a chance to experience a piece of Scholastic 3-D Archery (S3DA), a new youth program in Oregon that provides intermediate archery opportunities,” says Miranda Huerta, ODFW Archery Education Coordinator. “Whether you’re a hunter or target shooter, beginner or advanced, we hope you’ll come out and set some records at this inaugural shoot!”

Participants of all ages are welcome, though they should have some prior archery experience. The competition age categories are under 7, 8-11, 12-14, 15-18 and 19 and older.

The competition comes as ODFW grows its archery program and venues. Earlier this year, two new archery ranges opened (one in Hillsboro, another in Junction City) and an elevated shooting platform was added to the EE Wilson range near Corvallis.

ODFW has also expanded the reach of its NASP (National Archery in Schools) program. NASP is an introductory-level archery program for students new to archery in grades 4-12 that takes place during the regularly-scheduled school day. ODFW trains teachers to safely lead the program in schools and loans equipment kits with bows, arrows, targets and safety equipment.

“We’re always looking for new schools to join the program,” says Huerta. “Archery is a fun sport that students of all ages and ability levels can take part in.”

For more information about these archery programs, visit the program website or contact Miranda Huerta at 503-947-6076, Miranda.N.Huerta@state.or.us

To find out about other outdoor skills events where you can learn to hunt, fish and safely shoot a bow or firearm, visit ODFW’s Workshop and Events page at https://myodfw.com/workshops-and-events

Southern Washington Fishing Report (10-10-17)

THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL ORIGINATED WITH WDFW, INCLUDING PAUL HOFFARTH, AND JOE HYMER, PSMFC, AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY HYMER

Salmon/Steelhead

Mainstem Grays River from the Hwy. 4 Bridge upstream to the South Fork and West Fork Grays from the mouth upstream to boundary markers 300 yards below the hatchery road bridge – Under permanent rules, closes to all fishing from Oct. 16 through Nov. 30. These areas will reopen to fishing for hatchery salmon and hatchery steelhead beginning December 1.

NICOLE KASEBERG LANDED THIS AND ANOTHER COHO ON A 1/2 -OUNCE FAT WIGGLER IN BENGAL, A NEW PATTERN. SHE WAS FISHING FISHING WITH GUIDE BOB TOMAN ON THE COLUMBIA RIVER. (VIA JAROD HIGGINBOTHAM)

Cowlitz River – From the I-5 Bridge downstream: 33 bank rods kept 5 adult coho and released 1 adult Chinook and 2 chum. 11 boat rods kept 2 adult coho and released 2 adult Chinook and 2 adult coho. Above the I-5 Bridge – 73 bank rods kept 1 jack and 7 adult coho and released 25 adult Chinook, 11 jack and 2 adult coho and 4 cutts. 4 boat rods had no catch.

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 2,402 coho adults, 742 coho jacks, 498 fall Chinook adults, 19 fall Chinook jacks, four spring Chinook adults, 16 summer-run steelhead and 18 cutthroat trout during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 517 coho adults, 161 coho jacks and four spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River near the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek, and they released 469 coho adults, 184 coho jacks and one cutthroat trout at Franklin Bridge in Packwood.

Tacoma Power released 845 coho adults, 205 coho jacks, 221 fall Chinook adults, seven fall Chinook jacks and four cutthroat trout into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 3,520 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, Oct. 9. Water visibility is 11 feet and water temperature is 54.3 degrees F.

Lewis River (mainstem) – 5 boat anglers had no catch.

Lewis River (North Fork) – 26 bank anglers kept 4 adult coho. 13 boat anglers kept 1 jack and 4 adult Chinook, 2 adult coho and released 1 steelhead.

Klickitat River – 33 bank anglers kept 6 adult Chinook and 1 adult coho.

Yakima River – Fall Chinook continue to trickle into the Yakima River. There was a push of coho into the river last week. WDFW staff interviewed 165 anglers this past week with 14 adult salmon, 1 jack, and 1 coho harvested (25 hours per fish). Most of the harvest has been recorded in the areas just downstream of the Grant Ave bridge.

There were an estimated 545 angler trips for salmon in the lower Yakima River with a total of 3,134 angler trips for the season. An estimated 188 adult Chinook, 18 jack Chinook, and 2 coho have been harvested this season. Fishing should peak these final two weeks of the season.

Paul A. Hoffarth

District 4 Fish Biologist

WA Dept of Fish & Wildlife

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Still pretty good effort and catch. During last Saturday’s effort flight count there were 457 boats and 156 bank anglers tallied. We sampled up to an adult Chinook per boat and a fish for every 4 bank rods.

During October 1-8, anglers on the lower Columbia made 10,288 trips and caught 2,574 adult Chinook (2,562 kept and 12 released), 23 summer steelhead (11 kept and 12 released) and 895 adult coho (651 kept and 244 released).

Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam – Effective Oct. 16, the anti?snagging rule is lifted.

Hanford Reach – Last week, WDFW staff interviewed anglers from 851 boats (2,118 anglers) and 68 bank anglers (Ringold access area) and sampled 855 adult Chinook, 70 jacks, and 1 coho. Based on the information collected, an estimated 2,494 adult Chinook, 203 jacks, and 3 coho were harvested from 6,345 angler trips. Anglers averaged 1.1 Chinook per boat, 15 hours per fish.

Through October 8, 7,213 adult fall Chinook and 595 Chinook jacks have been harvested in the Hanford Reach from 23,998 angler trips.

A Hanford Reach in-season adult fall Chinook update was completed on October 7 that estimates a natural origin return of 56,194. This would allow a harvest of up to 15,000 adults and still meet escapement goals for the Reach. At this time, there are no plans to modify the current regulations for the Hanford Reach. Two weeks remaining in this fishery. The Hanford Reach area will close to fishing for salmon on October 22!

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The Coastal Conservation Association Tri-Cities Chapter is working with Grant Public Utilities District and WDFW to host the King of the Reach Live Capture Fishing Derby October 27-29 at the Vernita Boat Launch, Wahluke (White Bluffs). The event calls upon volunteer sport anglers to help capture Wild Chinook for use as broodstock at the Priest Rapids Hatchery, an effort that will help preserve the genetic fitness and health of hatchery and wild fish. This is a WDFW Volunteer Program requiring all anglers to register on-site before fishing each day.

Who will be the next King of the Reach? Visit this webpage (http://www.ccawashington.org/KingoftheReach) to learn more about how to participate or contact Paul Hoffarth (WDFW) by phone (509-545-2284) or email (Paul.Hoffarth@dfw.wa.gov).

Sturgeon

ANNOUNCEMENT

COLUMBIA RIVER JOINT STATE HEARING

A hearing has been scheduled for 1:00 PM Wednesday October 11, 2017 via teleconference to consider recreational white sturgeon retention fisheries in the mainstem Columbia River upstream of Wauna powerlines and in the lower Willamette River (Oregon State Action).
Attachments area

 

 

Lower Samish Closing To Fishing Due To Low Chinook Run

With Chinook eggtake goals on the Samish well behind where they should be at this point of the run, state managers are closing the lower end of the Skagit County river to fishing.

The change is effective tomorrow from the mouth (Bayview-Edison Bridge) to I-5 and will remain in place until either enough are collected or the run ends.

It’s looking like the latter at this point.

THE SAMISH RIVER WILL CLOSE TO FISHING AROUND EDISON AND ELSEWHERE BELOW I-5 AS OF OCT. 10. (BENJAMIN CODY, WIKIPEDIA)

So far, only 760,000 eggs have been taken at the hatchery, and the goal is 7.2 million, according to Brett Barkdull, the district fisheries biologist.

He says that by this part of the run, they should be halfway to that mark.

But with what they’ve collected and the fish on hand at the hatchery, they’re projected to only collect about 2.1 million, he says.

Around 21,000 Chinook had been expected this year.

This will make the second year in a row eggtake has been well short of the goal. Only 4 million were taken in 2016.

Managers want to collect 7 million eggs to ensure they’ll be able to release 4 million young Chinook into the Samish and another 1 million at two other places.

DNR Says Rich Passage Salmon Netpen Needs A Little Work

Though a fish-farming company still has the go-ahead to put 1 million young Atlantic salmon into a netpen this fall, it’ll have to correct some problems identified at the Puget Sound facility.

DNR today sent the warning to Cooke Aquaculture after a surface inspection of the Rich Passage pens “found a hole in netting and severe corrosion on several components of the facility’s above-water infrastructure,” according to a press release.

CREWS DISMANTLE THE WRECKED CYPRESS ISLAND NETPEN IN AUGUST. (WASHINGTON DNR)

Cooke could lose its lease from the agency if it doesn’t make the repairs in 60 days.

In all likelihood the Canadian company will do just that as it attempts to be a better neighbor and not get swept away by the king tide of anti-fish farming sentiment flowing out of the Governor’s Office, DNR, area tribes and elsewhere since 160,000 Atlantics escaped from an aging netpen in the San Juan Islands.

“Given the failure of the Cypress Island facility, we have to be extra vigilant in making sure Cooke’s other existing aquaculture facilities are structurally sound,” said Hilary Franz, the state’s Commissioner of Public Lands, in a press release. “We cannot tolerate any risk that more Atlantic salmon will be released in Washington’s waters.”

The mid-August escape was the second largest in state history, behind a breakout of 369,000 Atlantics in 1997.

Despite that and other escapes as well as dedicated attempts to stock the East Coast salmon into West Coast rivers in the 1980s, there’s no record of any population taking hold or other environmental calamity occurring.

The fish that got loose this summer were 3-year-olds and incapable of spawning with other Atlantics until next year, if they haven’t already all starved to death by now.

10-plus-pounder Wins First Bob Heirman Memorial Coho Derby

A 10.24-pound silver won the grand prize at the first annual Bob Heirman Memorial Coho Derby this past weekend.

Alex Davis collected $2,000 for that fish, while Kurtis Crylou claimed second and $1,000 for a 9.95-pounder and Tanya McMillan scored $500 for her 8.80 third-place coho.

The derby was held on three Snohomish County rivers and is named after the longtime local angler-conservationist who passed away earlier this year.

Announced just a month ago, 107 tickets were sold for the Oct. 7 event.

Organizer Mark Spada of the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club, says that 21 coho were weighed in after some “tough fishing.”

Most were landed between Thomas’s Eddy, where Heirman did a lot of his fishing back in the day, and the Highway 522 bridge, he said.

The derby was the first one targeting silvers in the area since 2015. The 2016 and 2017 Everett Coho Derbies were cancelled after state managers closed local saltwaters to fishing because of expected low returns and to protect critically low numbers of salmon headed back to rivers to the north.

Lower, Middle Columbia River Fishing Report (10-4-17)

THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL ORIGINATED FROM TANNA TAKATA, ODFW, AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY JOE HYMER, PSMFC

Weekend Fishing Opportunities:

*         The fall salmon season is open from Buoy 10 upstream to the Oregon/Washington Border above McNary Dam (see Sport Fishing Regulation Updates page for retention details).  An estimated 487,000 fall Chinook and 319,300 coho are expected to return to the Columbia River this fall.

JAROD HIGGINBOTHAM OF YAKIMA BAIT REPORTS THAT JOHN PLUGHOFF OF PLUGHOFF OUTFITTERS IS DOING WELL ON MID-COLUMBIA CHINOOK WITH THE COMPANY’S HILDEBRANDT SALMON SPINNERS. (VIA JAROD HIGGINBOTHAM)

*         Salmonid angling is good in the Bonneville Pool and the gorge.

*         White sturgeon retention is closed from Buoy 10 upstream to the Oregon/Washington Border above McNary Dam, but remains an option for catch and release fishing.

*         Walleye angling is good in The Dalles and John Day pools.

Current Columbia River regulations for salmon, steelhead, shad and sturgeon can be found at the Sport Fishing Regulation Update<http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/reg_changes/index.asp> page.

Salmon, Steelhead and Shad

On Saturday’s (9/30) flight, 582 salmonid boats and 22 Oregon bank anglers were counted from Tongue Point to Bonneville Dam; and 32 Oregon boats were counted at Buoy 10.  Anglers fishing in the John Day Pool averaged 0.50 Chinook and 0.21 coho caught per boat, while anglers fishing in The Dalles Pool averaged 0.15 Chinook caught per boat.  In the Bonneville Pool, boat anglers averaged 0.83 Chinook, 0.20 coho and 0.02 steelhead caught per boat, while anglers fishing in the gorge averaged 1.84 Chinook, 0.24 coho and 0.04 steelhead caught per boat.  In Troutdale, boat anglers averaged 1.08 Chinook and 0.35 coho caught per boat, while anglers fishing the Portland to Westport area averaged 0.49 Chinook and 0.41 coho caught per boat.  Anglers fishing at Buoy 10 averaged 0.92 coho and 0.25 Chinook caught per boat.  Bank anglers fishing in the Bonneville Pool averaged 0.13 coho caught per angler.

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for seven bank anglers.

Gorge Boats: Weekend checking showed 89 Chinook adults, 11 Chinook jacks, and six coho adults kept, plus one Chinook adult, one Chinook jack, six coho adults and two steelhead released for 49 boats (164 anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed 35 Chinook adults and nine coho adults kept, plus eight Chinook adults, one Chinook jack, and five coho adults released for 40 boats (73 anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekend checking showed no catch for two bank anglers.

Portland to Tongue Point Boats: Weekend checking showed 47 Chinook adults, three Chinook jacks, 26 coho adults and one coho jack kept, plus nine Chinook adults, one Chinook jack, 21 coho adults and three coho jacks released for 115 boats (275 anglers).

Estuary Boats (Above Tongue Point): No report.

Estuary Boats (Tongue Point to Buoy 10): Weekend checking showed one Chinook adult, and eight coho adults kept, plus two Chinook adults, and three coho adults released for 12 boats (44 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam): Weekly checking showed two Chinook jacks kept, plus one coho adult released for eight bank anglers; and 34 Chinook adults, seven Chinook jacks, eight coho adults and one steelhead kept for 41 boats (109 anglers).

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam): Weekly checking showed eight Chinook adults and eight Chinook jacks kept for 53 boats (163 anglers).

John Day Pool (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam): Weekly checking showed seven Chinook adults, one Chinook jack and three coho adults kept for 14 boats (27 anglers).

STURGEON

Lower Columbia River (below Bonneville Dam): Closed for retention. No report.

Bonneville Pool: Closed for retention.  No report.

The Dalles Pool: Closed for retention.  No report.

John Day Pool: Closed for retention.  Weekly checking showed three sublegal, three legal and one oversize sturgeon released for three boats (eight anglers).

WALLEYE

Gorge:  No report.

Troutdale: No report.

Portland to Tongue Point:  No report.

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed 13 walleye kept for eight boats (16 anglers).

John Day Pool: Weekly checking showed 88 walleye kept, plus 52 walleye released for 24 boats (46 anglers).

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.