2014 Hunting Forecast

DEER

Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties 

(Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon and Sixes units)

Black-tailed deer populations in Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties remain strong. The end of last year’s season showed a good buck ratio with high fawn ratios. This season will again be dependent on weather conditions. Because of the calendar year, the season is a week later than last year, potentially providing cooler temperatures. However ODFW has recently  observed mortalities due to adenovirus, a natural disease that affects only deer. It could have some impact on hunting seasons in areas where natural mortality has occurred. ODFW would like to hear from hunters this season if they have found dead deer in the woods; call 541-826-8774 or email odfw.info@state.or.us

Most deer will be in high elevations through September. Unlike many black-tails, Jackson County’s deer are migratory, and hunters are encouraged to hunt high elevations in the first part of the season, switching to mid to low elevations later in the season. Josephine and Curry counties’ deer population show very little migration, and deer can be found throughout all elevations. Don’t forget to check fire restrictions before heading out, especially early in the season.

Douglas County

(Dixon, S. Indigo, NW Evans Creek, Melrose, SW Siuslaw, E. Tioga and NE Powers Units)

Deer populations remain similar to last year, with large numbers on the Umpqua Valley floor and lower populations in the Cascades and Coast ranges. Fawn ratios have been good the last 10 years, showing good overall deer recruitment throughout the county. Buck ratios are similar to last year, so hunters should expect to find a good number of legal bucks if they work clearcuts and other places that have brushy habitats. In addition, mild winter conditions over the last few years have contributed to excellent survival, providing a good deer harvest opportunity this season.

Most property on the Umpqua Valley floor is privately owned, and hunters are reminded to obtain permission before hunting on private lands. For hunters looking to hunt on private timberlands, don’t forget to check with local timber companies to obtain information on access restrictions related to fire conditions. During the early part of rifle and archery season, hunters should find deer on the northerly slopes, near water and green-up areas.

ELK

Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties

The mild winter meant less snow and more feed available throughout the winter. During ODFW surveys, elk herds were scattered throughout the units this year, making it difficult to find elk. However, bull ratios remain good for all of the district’s units. Cascade elk season will be later this year; this could provide a cooler hunt. Archery hunters will again need to scout areas near water sources to find elk. They should focus on north-facing hills, in higher elevations or areas of cooler draws where elk can retreat into during the heat of the day. Elk populations are minimal in the E. Chetco and the Applegate, although some can be found in select drainages in Applegate.

Units along the Coast have higher elk numbers on private property. Elk in the Evans Creek Unit are primarily found near private properties. There are also lots of elk down low in and amongst private land, but gaining access to these properties requires homework early in the season.

A reminder of changes that occurred last year for archery, muzzle loader and disability hunters — the bag limit is bull only (rather than any elk) — within national forest lands in the Dixon, Evans Creek and Rogue unit due to declining elk populations.

Douglas County

The outlook this elk season looks to be similar to last year. February aerial surveys found good bull and calf ratios at or close to management objectives. Good escapement from the 2013 hunting season and another mild winter increased elk herd survival. Elk numbers are greatest in the E. Tioga, mid to high elevations of the Dixon and S. Indigo and the perimeter of the Melrose units. Early in the season, some of the local private timberlands are restricting access due to the high fire danger, so hunters should obtain more information on any restrictions before hunting.

BEAR AND COUGAR

Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties

Enough rains occurred this spring that berry crops should be good. Locating these berry crops and looking for bear sign should be productive. Hunters can expect an above average year. Bear numbers continue to be abundant.

During hot dry weather, bears will be found around cooler wet drainages, with the best times in early morning and late evenings.

Applegate unit has the best success during the fall season, although bears are found throughout the three counties.

Cougars are found throughout the district and can be hunted all year long. They can pose a challenge to hunt, but hunters are finding the use of predator calls along major ridge lines can increase their odds. Don’t forget to purchase a tag so you can take one if you see it; the vast majority of cougars taken to day are by hunters pursuing other species.

UPLAND GAME BIRDS

Jackson and Curry counties

Both mountain quail and forest grouse numbers are higher this year due to the mild spring, so hunters can expect a good year. Forest grouse can be found in timbered creek draws and mountain quail will be found in brushy clearcuts near water. A good bird dog will aid greatly in bird retrieval. Fall turkey hunting should be good. Most of the population is located on private low elevation lands. A growing number of turkeys are finding refuge in mid-elevation conifers with many meadows or clearcuts. Turkey hunters may use dogs during the fall season. Pheasant hunting is limited primarily to private lands. The only public pheasant-hunting opportunity is during the fee season Sept. 22 to Oct. 10 at the Denman Wildlife Area. Mourning dove numbers are up due to a mild spring, and the Denman Wildlife Area will have some hunting opportunities early in the season. Band-tailed pigeon numbers are fair; look for band-tails in elderberry bushes at high elevation.

Coos County

With dry conditions this spring and summer, brood survival for grouse and quail is expected to have improved. Early season wet conditions tend to have a deleterious effect on the survival of young chicks before they grow feathers — the hypothermia resulting from rain (which soaks downy chicks) can wipe out an entire brood in some cases. Luckily, very few wet, cool days occurred while broods were downy this year. So brood survival should be better this year than in previous years. Those interested in hunting grouse will find them on closed forest roads or near creek bottoms. Quail will be found around clear cuts and exposed ridges. While wild turkeys can be found in forested areas in the county, the best hunting is generally in the vicinity of agricultural areas. Hunters are reminded to scout early and obtain permission to hunt private land prior to hunting.

Douglas County

Hunters can expect an average year for upland game birds due to average numbers and recruitment levels. The expected hunter harvest for turkey should be near average with good carryover of adult turkeys the last few years. Most turkeys can be found on or adjacent to low-mid elevation private lands associated with oak savannah habitat. Mountain quail nesting season was good, with average numbers produced, so hunting success should still be good. Success is best in the mid-elevations of the Cascades and Coast Range near brushy clear-cuts on secondary forest roads.

California (Valley) quail counts were low this year because of the long and wet spring so hunting success should be lower than average. Most California quail are found on agricultural and low elevation forestland. Pheasant outlook continues to be poor since the Umpqua Valley lowlands have very few pheasants that still exist on private lands. Blue and ruffed grouse brood counts for this year indicate slightly lower than average production. Hunting availability and success for forest grouse should be fair to good this season. Blue grouse success is best in mid to high elevations of the Cascades in partly open conifer stands. Ruffed grouse can be found near creeks mostly at mid elevations of both the Cascades and Coast Range. Hunters may use rimfire rifles or pistols to harvest forest grouse.

Hunters are reminded to help ODFW by providing one wing and tail fan with rump feathers from blue and ruffed grouse and mountain quail. Paper collection bags and simple instructions are available at ODFW offices. All bags with samples (1 bird per bag) should be dropped off at any ODFW office with harvest date, and general area of harvest. This information helps ODFW determine hatching dates, sex and age composition, which is an indicator of annual production and the general health of local populations.

Klamath and Lake counties

The best areas for forest grouse are in the Cascades on Winema National Forest or private timber land which is open to access. Blue grouse can be found along ridge tops in more open forest habitats in both Klamath and Lake counties, while ruffed grouse are generally found along riparian areas, with few ruffed grouse found in Lake County.

Fair mountain quail hunting opportunities are available in the Cascades. There's a two-bird bag limit in Klamath County. Lake County is closed to mountain quail hunting.

Quail production was good this year and there should be favorable quail hunting opportunities. Most valley quail hunting opportunities in Klamath County are on private land, and hunters are reminded to ask for permission.

Wild pheasant numbers remain at extremely low levels. Unlimited Pheasants will be releasing pheasants at Klamath Wildlife Area and selected private lands open to the public. No pheasants are released at Summer Lake Wildlife Area, and wild pheasant numbers are at very low levels.

Chukar populations in Lake County are expected to be fair this year. Summer brood routes indicated good production.

WATERFOWL

Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties

Take advantage of the September Canada goose season this year. A good number of resident flocks of geese are in valley floors, along the Rogue River and on the Denman Wildlife Area. Gaining access to private property is key to getting at many of these geese. The best waterfowl hunting at Denman Wildlife Area tends to occur around the end of November; area managers continue to plant crops and flood fields to attract waterfowl to Denman. The fall flight forecast calls for high numbers of waterfowl, but weather conditions will determine migration patterns and hunter success.

Coos County

Ducks will begin moving into the county early in the fall and initially concentrate in coastal bays and other large water bodies. A large portion of Coos Bay is open to hunting even though some of it is within the city limits of Coos Bay. Other areas within the city limits of Coos Bay and all areas within city limits of North Bend are closed to hunting. There is also an area near the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend that is closed to hunting. Hunters are encouraged to contact the ODFW Charleston Field Office at 541-888-5515 to obtain the latest information on areas open for hunting. Also, the Ni’Les-tun Unit of the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge near Bandon will have an area within it open for waterfowl hunting. Other portions of Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge that have been open for hunting in the past continue to be open this year as well. As winter comes on and the rainy season starts, waterfowl will disperse inland to flooded river valleys like the Coquille.

Geese will concentrate on private pastures around river valleys. Canada goose populations have been growing over the past few years. Good goose hunting can be found in most of the county. The key to a successful hunt is scouting before the hunt for areas where geese are going to feed or rest.

Douglas County

Hunting for resident geese in Douglas County should be good this year, as northwest goose production was good. Local duck production was fair to good this year. Duck hunting conditions should improve as the fall migrating ducks arrive, especially since production up north was above average this year. Nearly all waterfowl hunting in the Umpqua Valley is on private property and hunters are reminded to obtain landowner permission before hunting. Plat-I Reservoir in Sutherlin, the Umpqua River and its tributaries offer the best waterfowl hunting in the Umpqua Valley.

Klamath County

Waterfowl hunting in the Klamath Basin could be slower than average this year due to extremely low water conditions. Migrating ducks and geese may pass over the Basin in route to more southerly wintering areas. Early season usually is best for local and early migrant birds. Hunting prospects will depend on Pacific Northwest weather systems moving birds into and around Klamath and Lake counties before freeze-up.

Most goose-hunting opportunities are for resident Canada geese, however there are some white-fronted geese, snow, and Ross’s geese staging in the Klamath Basin prior to continuing south. Goose hunting should improve later into the season with freezing conditions, which tend to concentrate geese near open water areas. Ample public land opportunities exist within area refuges and state managed wildlife areas in addition to private lands.

During the late season segment (Jan. 26 – March 10, 2015) of the Klamath white front (speckle belly or specs) and white goose (lesser snow geese and Ross’s geese) hunt periods, the bag limit has been increased to 10 white fronted and 20 white geese per day due to robust populations in the Pacific Flyway. The late goose season will again be open on public waters/lands with the exception of Klamath Basin refuges and Miller Island Unit at KWA. The hunt helps alleviate agricultural damage from large numbers of white-fronted geese, lesser snow, and Ross’ geese. During last spring’s surveys, observers counted over 400,000 white-fronted geese staging in the Klamath Basin during early March. The September Canada Goose season will again take place this year in Klamath County.

Contact ODFW's Klamath Falls office at 541-883-5732 for more information.

Klamath Wildlife Area

Early season is usually best for local and early migrant birds, and hunters can expect to find abundant gadwalls and mallards in the Klamath Basin.

Favorable weather conditions will be necessary to encourage large numbers of ducks and geese to stage in the basin, reduce overflights to wintering areas further south, and create favorable hunting conditions. Goose hunting should improve later in the season with geese using frozen ponds for loafing and the small grain fields for forage.

Pheasant Hunters: Pheasants will be released only in Unit C during the first week of the season. After Oct. 11, pheasants will be released in all units on non-hunt days until approximately Thanksgiving weekend dependent on availability.

Days open for gamebird hunting are Oct. 11*, 12*, 14, 16, 18*, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, odd days in November and December, and even days in January. (*Hunting on Oct. 11, 12 and 18 is on a reservation basis with standby and refill. Oct. 26 is the youth waterfowl hunt in Units A and B, with Unit C open to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis.)

Due to the concurrent opening of waterfowl and upland gamebirds in Zone 2, reservations for Klamath Wildlife Area on Oct. 11, 12 and 18 will be for both waterfowl and upland game birds. Hunters successful in obtaining reservations to hunt these days will need to check in at the check station at least a half hour before waterfowl shooting hours begins, even if you only want to hunt upland gamebirds. Make sure that if you have a reservation, you have gotten your reservation permit slip from a license sales agent or online from the ODFW website. Reservation permits will not be available at the check station. This will allow ODFW to refill any unused reservation spots as early as possible to allow hunters to get out into the field.

Large portions of the wildlife area may be dry in October due to habitat manipulation, work to improve hunting and waterfowl habitat, and drought conditions that have forced Bureau of Reclamation to cut off water delivery from the Klamath River and Upper Klamath Lake.

Burning of decadent vegetation on the larger of the Gorr Island Units may occur in late December to January depending on weather.

The special youth waterfowl hunt on Oct. 26 is open to hunters 17 and younger. Reservations are no longer required for this hunt. See page 22 of the Oregon Game Bird Regulations.

 

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