Tag Archives: SOUTHWEST OREGON

Oregon Gobbler Hunting Forecast For Spring 2019

Editor’s note: This is an abridged version of Troy Rodakowski’s Oregon spring turkey prospects story that ran in the March 2019 issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine and was written in early February, before heavy winter snows that are now melting fell across eastern portions of the Beaver State.

By Troy Rodakowski

I always wonder where my opening day will take me as I try to think of new options, consider revisiting old haunts and wondering what the new season might have in store.

Talking to a few biologists never hurts and I have found that sometimes they have good insights for hunters looking for new locations and tracking where flocks are moving.

JAYCE WILDER GOT HIS GOBBLER IN 2016 WHILE HUNTING DOUGLAS COUNTY. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

“We are seeing some range expansion in parts of the Columbia Basin and eastern Malheur County, where Idaho birds are pioneering some new areas,” notes Mikal Cline, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s game bird biologist.

The state agency also conducts some trap-and-transplant operations, moving problem birds to more desirable locations, but only to improve existing flocks.

According to several local landowners and turkey hunters there are also improving flocks in the upper Deschutes watershed and locations around Bend, as well as the Hood River Valley.

With below average snowpack and a fairly mild winter – at least as of this writing – larger flocks have been congregating in the lowlands near the mountain ranges of Northeast and Central Oregon. I have also seen some expansion of several flocks throughout the Umpqua River drainage.

According to biologists, we are also seeing some range expansion in southern Wasco and Wheeler Counties, part of the Fremont National Forest north of Lakeview, and south of Ontario. No matter where you look it is very likely that there are some new areas to check out this spring.

NORTH-CENTRAL AND NORTHEAST OREGON SAW QUITE A BIT OF SNOWFALL IN FEBRUARY AND EARLY MARCH, AND WHILE IT IS BEGINNING TO MELT OUT, IT MAY AFFECT WHERE TO HUNT TURKEY AT THE START OF THE SEASON. MATHEW GOODMAN-GRAY GOT HIS TOM DURING SPRING 2015’S HUNT ABOUT A MILE FROM HIS GRANDPA’S PLACE NEAR UNION. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

“The mild winter throughout Oregon has provided good conditions for our wintering turkey flocks,” notes Cline.

It is likely that weather-related mortality will be low, but hens should be going into spring in good physical condition as well.

“This of course also allows the hens to produce plenty of eggs and withstand the energetic needs of incubation,” adds Cline.

We of course have been fooled by mild early and midwinter patterns only to have onslaughts of wet, cold and snowy conditions later on, turning the tables and changing things drastically as we progress into spring.

Of course it is no secret that turkey populations seem to be robust throughout much of the Northwest. Oregon has a very liberal bag limit, with hunters able to purchase three tags apiece throughout the season. The West is becoming a turkey hunting destination for many across the U.S. Throughout Oregon harvest rates have been steady over the past five years, “though this doesn’t reflect the increasing density of wild turkeys that are not in huntable locations,” Cline says.

“Our Eastern Oregon brood survey routes show a 27 percent bump in turkey density from 2017 to 2018, so I would expect a strong showing this spring, particularly in the vicinity of the Umatilla, Malheur, Wallowa-Whitman, and Ochoco National Forests,” she forecasts.

THE TOP FIVE Western Oregon units in recent years have been the Melrose, Rogue, Willamette, Evans Creek and Applegate. All had good harvests, with some of the highest in Melrose and Rogue, followed by Evans Creek and Willamette respectively.

One unit to keep an eye on for this year will be the Siuslaw near Lorane, especially in the southeast portions near the small towns of Drain and Creswell. Also, the McKenzie, Alsea, Chetco and Keno Units have seen increasing numbers of birds on private lands near the foothills.

DON’T TELL THE TRUANT OFFICER BUT KEVIN KENYON MIGHT HAVE SKIPPED SCHOOL A COUPLE SPRINGS AGO TO HUNT TURKEYS WITH HIS UNCLE, SUCCESSFULLY BAGGING THIS WESTERN OREGON TOM. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

In Central and Eastern Oregon, locations near LaGrande, Imbler, Elgin, Union, Cove, Wallowa, Sumpter and Flora all hold decent flocks. The Catherine Creek, Sumpter, Walla Walla, Pine Creek and Minam Units all saw decent harvest in 2017-18. And units that showed significant increases in harvest during the past few years include the Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, Keating and Starkey.

Application Period For Oregon Spring Bear Permits – Even Southwest Now – Open

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

Apply for a spring bear hunt by Feb. 10—including the SW Oregon tag which is now controlled like all other spring bear hunts.

THOMAS HARGGET POSES WITH A BLACK BEAR SHOT DURING A PAST SPRING SEASON IN OREGON. HIS UNCLE CARL LEWALLEN SENT THE IMAGE. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

Hunters can apply using ODFW’s new online licensing system or at a license sales agent or ODFW office that sells licenses.

If applying online, hunters need to:

  • Verify/Look Up their account on ODFW’s new licensing page and complete set up of online account if not done already.
  • Go to Product Catalog / Product Categories / Big Game Hunting / Controlled Hunts and choose the 700 series spring bear controlled hunt application.
  • Proceed to checkout to make your hunt choices.

If you are applying on a mobile phone, a dropdown menu will cover view of the spring bear application. Just click the arrow next to Product Categories to lift the dropdown menu and see the spring bear application to add to your cart.

Remember that while the electronic licensing system is new, any hunter who has preference points already has an account in ODFW’s new system (as does any hunter/angler who purchased an annual license in the last three years or has Pioneer License, Disability Status or other certifications). Only “new” hunters/anglers who don’t meet these criteria should choose the “I am a new customer…” option to create a new customer account.

Hunters who apply at a license sale agent will also be asked to provide their Hunter/Angler (ODFW) ID number, email, phone number or other information to verify their account.

Fall big game controlled hunt applications are also available for purchase now, either online or at license sale agents. Hunters are encouraged to avoid the last minute rush and apply well before the May 15 deadline this year.

“ODFW customer call volumes are higher than normal due to people reporting their hunts through the new April 15 reporting deadline, or with questions about the new licensing system,” said Linda Lytle, ODFW Licensing Manager. “Get your fall big game application in early this year so if you have any problems there is time to correct it.”

Currently, the ability to change a controlled hunt application after purchase is unavailable due to a system bug. This bug will be fixed early the week of Feb. 4 and spring bear hunters may change their application through the Feb. 10 application deadline.

More about spring bear hunt changes changing for 2019
The SW Spring Bear has been changed from a first-come, first-serve hunt back to a controlled hunt like all other spring bear hunts in Oregon. This change was made as part of ODFW’s regulation simplification process and to better distribute hunting pressure (more than half of the hunters who bought the SW tag did not hunt). The change also means all spring bear hunters will now get a point saver if they don’t draw their first choice hunt.

The Starkey WMU has been added to what was formerly the W. Blue Mts hunt and the area has been split into two new hunts (752A Starkey-Ukiah and 754A Mt Emily-Walla Walla), also to better distribute hunting pressure.

For more information on black bear hunting regulations including hunt numbers visit http://www.eregulations.com/oregon/19orhd/black-bear-seasons/