2015 Hunting Forecast

DEER AND ELK{br class="hardreturn" /}
Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties{br class="hardreturn" /}
(Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon, and Sixes units){br class="hardreturn" /}
Black-tailed deer populations remain good in the district. However, the spring count this year was lower, possibly due to a disease outbreak (adenovirus hemorrhagic disease or AHD), which was mostly seen in residential areas but some wild populations were also affected. So far this year reports of sick or dying deer are low or normal. Hunters are asked to contact the local office in Central Point (541-826-8774) to report deer carcasses found in the woods while hunting.{br class="hardreturn" /}
In general the Rogue, Dixon, Evans Creek and Applegate units within Jackson County have a migratory deer population. Within these units, hunt in high elevation (4,000-plus feet) during the early half of the season and hunt lower elevations during the late half of the season after deer have migrated. Deer in Josephine and Curry County will be found at all elevations.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Big-game hunting stats showed that all units (Rogue 20 percent, Dixon 29 percent, Evans Creek 33 percent, Applegate 30 percent and Chetco 42 percent) within Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties had an increase of hunter success from 1 to 10 percent higher in 2014 than in previous years.{br class="hardreturn" /}
With current hot, dry weather conditions, all private lands are closed to access until fire restrictions are lifted. Public lands remain open.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Elk numbers are low on most public lands in the district, and pre-season scouting is very important. As most private timberlands are closed until fire season restrictions are lifted, look for many hunters to be hunting on public lands. The best places to hunt during periods of warm/dry weather are areas with minimal roads and north-facing slopes.{br class="hardreturn" /}
General elk season success rates have held sateady over the years at about 5 percent. Hunter success was up in the Chetco coastal seasons, with the first season at 23 percent and second season at 29 percent.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Douglas County{br class="hardreturn" /}
(Dixon, S. Indigo, NW Evans Creek, Melrose, SW Siuslaw, E. Tioga and NE Powers units){br class="hardreturn" /}
Deer hunting should be good in the Cascades and Umpqua Valley. Elk hunting in the Cascade units should be about the same as the past few years.{br class="hardreturn" /}
This past winter was very mild, and deer and elk responded with good overwinter survival. The fawns per adult deer ratios in the Dixon, Indigo and Melrose units have increased the last three years. An exception is the Roseburg deer population, which was hit hard by epizootic hemorrhagic disease. The disease was particularly hard on the Columbian white-tailed deer population. Hunters with Columbian white-tailed deer tags will have to secure places to hunt where landowners with good deer numbers will grant permission.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Elk numbers in the Tioga Unit are close to population management objective and doing well. The bull ratio is above the 15 bulls to 100 cows management objective, and bull elk hunters should have a good season. The past two winter elk surveys in the Cascades were conducted under marginal conditions at best, due to little or no snow on the ground to concentrate elk in traditional survey areas. As a result, elk were scattered and counts were down both years.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Cascade deer and elk hunters will have better success hunting areas with good cover adjacent to openings. Some of the better wildlife openings are created by clearcuts, thinnings or wildfire after several years. Current cool and moist conditions are favorable for bowhunters, who need their hunting area to be quiet underfoot, and big game are out foraging over longer periods of time when it’s cool. Hunters need to check weather forecasts frequently, as that will play a key role with fire season restrictions and hunting access.{br class="hardreturn" /}
The large amount of fire activity in the district this summer, including the Stouts Creek Fire, will create great big-game habitat in the years to come. In the short term, however, hunters may want to concentrate their efforts elsewhere and stay out of the very recently burned areas.{br class="hardreturn" /}
BEAR AND COUGAR{br class="hardreturn" /}
Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties{br class="hardreturn" /}
(Applegate, Chetco, Evans Creek, Rogue, portions of Dixon and Sixes units){br class="hardreturn" /}
Enough rains occurred last 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 evening. Applegate unit has the best success during the fall season, although bears are found throughout the three counties.{br class="hardreturn" /}
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 as a way to 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 today are by hunters pursuing other species.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Douglas County {br class="hardreturn" /}
(Dixon, S. Indigo, NW Evans Creek, Melrose, SW Siuslaw, E. Tioga and NE Powers units){br class="hardreturn" /}
All indicators are that bear numbers remain are high again this year. Bears are found throughout these units, with densities higher below 4,000 feet. Hunters picking up a SW Additional Bear Tag report higher success rates ranging from 7 to 67 percent over the past three years.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Berry crops in many areas are plentiful, although they have ripened earlier than normal. To find bears, look for all types of berry crops, including blackberries, huckleberries, manzanita berries and acorns, and for recent feeding activity by bears (fresh droppings). Depending on the weather, the bears may be at these food sources all day or toward the late afternoon when cooler weather prevails.{br class="hardreturn" /}
The district expects to see an increase in bear damage complaints this fall due to berry and fruit crops finishing earlier than normal. Bears will be looking for food sources long before the urge to den for winter takes place. Hunters may take advantage of the food shortage by using fawn in distress calls to draw bears out from heavy cover. Set up in a spot that gives you a good view of the area and keeps your scent away from approaching bears. A fawn in distress call may also draw in other predators, such as cougar, bobcat, coyote and fox.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Cougar numbers are stable. Because of their elusiveness, cougars are best hunted during other big-game seasons, although hunters have had success with predator calls. Cougars have large home ranges and use major ridge lines for their movements.{br class="hardreturn" /}
UPLAND GAME BIRDS{br class="hardreturn" /}
Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties{br class="hardreturn" /}
Trend surveys suggest mountain quail are down slightly from the five-year average, ruffed and sooty grouse are up slightly, and turkeys are up slightly. Mountain quail coveys are not large but they are distributed throughout the Rogue District, and hunting should be fair. Ruffed grouse should be abundant in middle elevations near water, and sooty grouse should be somewhat abundant at high elevations.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Turkeys had an excellent hatch and should be very abundant. Spring rain was variable in the Rogue District and there are several age classes of upland birds, indicating that some early nests were rained out and birds re-nested.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Hunters should be aware of fire season closures on private timber lands in Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties. Check the latest fire closure information before heading out into the field. The Denman Wildlife Area will host a fee pheasant hunt through Oct. 9. Birds will be stocked daily during these periods. Hunters new to hunting Denman are encouraged to call 541-826-8774.{br class="hardreturn" /}
Douglas County{br class="hardreturn" /}
Hunters should have a good year, with ample opportunities to hunt forest grouse and mountain quail. Counts are similar to last year and weather was favorable to nesting success. 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. Nesting season production was average for California quail and mountain quail, so hunting opportunity should be good. Success is best in the lower-elevation agricultural lands for California quail and mid-elevations of the Cascades and Coast Range near brushy clear-cuts on secondary forest roads for mountain quail. Check local fire restrictions for current fire danger before going hunting.{br class="hardreturn" /}

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