2017 Big Game Hunting Forecast

DEER AND ELK

ROGUE DISTRICT - Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties

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

DEER

Overall black-tailed deer populations are good in this district. In general, the Rogue, Dixon, Evans Creek and Applegate units within Jackson County have mostly 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 elevation (below 4,000 feet) during the late half of the season after deer have migrated.

Deer in Josephine and Curry counties will be found at all elevations throughout the season.

Big game hunting statistics indicate that all units within Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties had a slight increase in black-tailed deer hunter success last year. The Rogue unit had a success rate of 20 percent in 2016, which was up from 19 percent in 2015. Dixon was up from 27 percent to 31 percent, Evans Creek increased from 32 percent to 34 percent, Applegate went to 31 percent compared to 27 percent, and the Chetco dropped to 37 percent from 39 percent. While most units showed an increase in success compared to 2015, deer hunter harvest has remained roughly the same in all five units over the past four years, indicating that this year should be about the same.

ELK

Elk numbers in recent years have been lower on most of the public lands, and preseason scouting is very important. Because most private timberlands are closed until fire season restrictions are lifted, look for many hunters to be sharing public lands. The best place to look is on lands with minimal roads and north-facing slopes during periods of warm/dry weather.

Cascade general elk season success rates have been roughly the same over recent years, with success in the Evans Creek unit up slightly and the Rogue Unit slightly down. Success in the Chetco coastal seasons was down, with first season at 25 percent and the second season at 10 percent. Applegate coastal seasons were down in 2016, the first season was only a 1 percent success and the second season had a 6 percent success rate.

The Jackson Travel Management Area, which includes private forestlands, restricts entry by motor vehicles from three days prior to General Cascade Elk season until April 30. The Upper Rogue Green Dot Travel Management program again will be in effect on the Prospect and Butte Falls Ranger Districts in the Rogue River National Forest; it restricts motorized vehicle access to designated roads during the General Cascade Elk season. The Forest Service combined and renamed the Prospect and Butte Falls Ranger Districts to the High Cascades Ranger District. TMA maps are available at the Central Point ODFW office (541-826-8774) and online. See page 104 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations for more on locations and TMAs (travel management areas).

 

UMPQUA DISTRICT - Douglas County

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

DEER and ELK

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.

Despite a prolonged winter, spring surveys indicated good over-winter survival for deer and elk in the Douglas portion of the Umpqua District. The fawns per adult deer ratios in the Dixon, Indigo and Melrose have been stable to increasing over the last few years.

Elk numbers in the Tioga Unit are close to the population management objective and doing well. 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. Hunters need to check weather forecasts frequently, as that will play a key role with fire season restrictions and hunting access.

Over the past few years, Western Oregon rifle deer hunters have done fairly well in the Cascade units (Indigo/Dixon), and recent surveys show that trend should continue as long as the weather cooperates. Cascade elk hunters have averaged about 5 percent success over the past few years, and this year is expected to be the same.

The large number of fires in the district recently will create great big game habitat in the years to come. However, in the short term, hunters may want to concentrate their efforts elsewhere and stay out of the very recently burned areas. Hunters unfamiliar with this area are advised to hunt smarter, not harder. Use Google Earth or Google Maps (satellite layer) to explore the area with a birds-eye view and get an idea of the terrain and vegetation. Get a hold of some good maps from the Forest Service/BLM/local fire protection association and use them in conjunction with Google Maps to locate areas away from roads that will provide you with a quality hunting experience. Another good source of information is to view historic fire perimeters online (www.geomac.gov/viewer/viewer.shtml).

These maps will give you an idea where large areas have been opened up by wildfire, which enhances forage opportunities for deer and elk. Find the food, and you’ll find the game.

 

BEAR and COUGAR

ROGUE DISTRICT

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

Predator calling can yield good results. Focus on using a fawn distress call in early morning and late evening. Hunters can expect a good harvest year, because bear numbers continue to be robust. During hot dry weather, bears will be found around cooler wet drainages, with the best times in early morning and late evenings. The Chetco and Applegate units have had the best success during the fall, although bears are found throughout the three counties in very healthy numbers.

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, because the vast majority of cougars taken are by hunters pursuing other species.

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